Cristina Castro: Candidate Profile

22nd State Senate District (Democratic)

Updated 2/5/2016 11:07 AM
  • Cristina Castro, running for 22nd State Senate District

    Cristina Castro, running for 22nd State Senate District

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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.

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City: Elgin


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Office sought:

22nd State Senate District

Age: 37

Family: Married

Occupation: Marketing and Communications Manager

Education: M.B.A., Northern Illinois University

Bachelor of Science, Northern Illinois University

Associates of Science, Elgin Community College

Civic involvement: Board Member, Illinois Housing Development Authority

Board Member, Centro de Información

Board Member, Black History Family Festival

Past President, Elgin Hispanic Network (2007-2008)

Commissioner, Zoning and Subdivision Hearing Board (2004 - 2008)

Member, Centre of Elgin Advisory Board (2003-2004)

Elected offices held: Commissioner, Kane County Board, 20th District (2008-Present)

Questions & Answers

What needs to be done structurally to make the legislature more effective? Will you vote for your current legislative leader? What is your position on term limits in general and specifically for legislative leaders? Do you support the ongoing drive for a constitutional amendment on redistricting? What will you do to promote implementation of any changes you recommend?

The legislature to be open to new ideas and to working in a bi-partisan fashion to address many of the issues affecting Illinois. Strong political positions and rhetoric are standing in the way of progress. The legislature needs to be more open and willing to work together if they hope to move this state in the right direction.

Before making a decision on leadership roles, I will first see who all the candidates are for the position, meet with each one to understand their vision and goals and then make my decision.

On the issue of term limits, I support term limits on legislative leaders. I would also support having a rotating leadership post to allow other legislators to have the opportunity to be considered from either downstate or the suburbs. Term limits can work, but consideration needs to be made to avoid empowering special interest groups/lobbyists from controlling the state and legislative process. I support the ongoing drive for an independent map amendment. I support this initiative because it places the drawing of maps into the hands of an independent committee free of political influence. A fair map will strengthen the voice of voters.

As state senator, as I have as a member of the county board, will be open and willing to examine all structural proposals carefully to determine the impact each has on the 22nd district and the state. I'm committed to working toward effective solutions in a bipartisan fashion to move our state forward.

What approach do you support toward fixing the public pension systems, not just for teachers but for public safety personnel as well?

When it comes to the public pension system, we need to go back to the drawing board. We need to work with urgency across the aisle to pass efficient, sustainable, and legal reform. I am interested in revisiting a pension reform bill proposed back in 2013, SB 2404. The bill brought all parties to the table, and would not have been subject to a successful legal challenge €" unlike SB1. We also need to revisit a 2011 extensive study on what would and would not pass constitutional muster to explore additional options.

On Illinois' budget, specifically, where do you believe cuts need to be made? Specifically, what tax increases, changes in tax policy or other opportunities for revenue growth do you support? What is your position on a graduated income tax?

Talking to residents, I hear countless stories on how the lack of action on the state budget is directly impacting them. Illinois' continued stalemate has negative long-term effects on our state's workforce and economy. It has caused many organizations and businesses to re-think operations resulting in the loss of jobs and production. As a candidate, I am deeply committed to addressing our state's financial issues, and am continually examining these issues to determine potential cuts like cutting corporate tax loopholes and eliminating duplicative and non-essential government services in addition to looking at other revenue sources.

Illinois needs a balanced approach to solving the issues €" we need to protect vital programs and also cut unnecessary spending. We need to stop hurting those who need us the most, like seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities.

The previous income tax hike was especially burdensome on middle- and lower-income people. I am supportive of a fair tax that applies lower rates to lower income individuals.

What changes, if any, do you believe the state should make in the area of education and education funding? How will you act to promote the changes you wish to see?

We need to have a broad discussion on how Illinois funds education. From K-12 to our universities and community colleges, the state has failed to pay its fair share of funding resulting in local property taxes hikes (levy increases), increased student fees, and skyrocketing increases in tuitions.

We should look at ways to offer tax-payers property tax relief, provide equitable and quality education at the K-12 level, and make college affordable for those looking to advance in today's global economy. We need minimize unfunded mandates that put pressures on school districts and higher education institutions to find ways to pay for them out of their general budgets.

There has been recent legislation that have been proposed and even brought forth to address these issues, while imperfect, it's at least the start of a critical conversation.

Please list any elected office you have ever run for and what the result of that election was. Have you ever been appointed to fill an unexpired term?

Commissioner, Kane County Board, 20th District, 2008, Won

Commissioner, Kane County Board, 20th District, 2012, Won

No, I have not been appointed to fill an unexpired term.

What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?

I believe is important is to look at ways to make the consolidation of units of local government easier. Illinois has 6,968 units of local government, more than any other state. We should review current laws to ease the path to consolidation and streamline the process. Too many local entities overlap and we should determine how we can save tax payer money by cutting the administrative overhead of many of these organizations. Consolidation can actually help provide more effective and clear-cut services to communities while also saving taxpayer money.

Please name one current leader who most inspires you.

Gabrielle Giffords

What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?

My parents taught us the value of hard work. They said if you work hard you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.

If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?

I was a commuter student and working full-time when I went to NIU. I would have liked to experience college life on campus more.

What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?

English. It helped shape my writing, creativity, and critical thinking.

If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?

Just as my parents taught me, work hard. When you work hard you can accomplish anything.