Barbara Hernandez: Candidate profile, Illinois House 83rd District
Incumbent Barbara Hernandez, a Democrat from Aurora, and Donald R. Walter, a Republican from Aurora, are vying to represent District 83 in the Illinois General Assembly in the Nov. 3 general election.
Hernandez is completing a four-year term on the Kane County Board District 8. She served as chief of staff for then-state Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia of Aurora. She was appointed to the House seat in March 2019 after Chapa LaVia was named director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs. Hernandez founded the Aurora Youth Summit and has served on the Aurora Township Youth Council and Aurora Hispanic Heritage Advisory Board.
To explore her campaign website, visit friendsofbarbarahernandez.com.
District 83 includes parts of Aurora, North Aurora and Montgomery.
The Daily Herald asked the candidates a series of questions. Here are Hernandez's responses.
Q: Should Speaker Madigan resign from his leadership positions? If he does not resign, will you support him for a new term as House speaker?
A: I hope that my colleagues and I can come together in enacting tougher consequences on politicians who abuse the publics trust. Politicians who violate ethics should pay back what they received from taxpayers and forfeit their pensions.
Q: Describe at least two circumstances in which you have shown or would show a willingness and capacity to act independently of the direction or demands of party leadership.
A: Every time I vote for bills I do it with my constituents in mind never because of party leadership.
Q: How would you rate the governor's handling of the COVID-19 crisis? Does the legislature need to have more input and influence in establishing rules and policies related to stemming the spread of the disease? What would you have done differently, if anything? If nothing, please say so.
A: We need to remember that the fight against COVID is still not over. There are people who are still getting infected and dying. There are still essential workers who are putting their life on the line for others.
I want to thank all the essential workers as I know this has not been easy for anyone.
The state of Illinois has been making decisions by being guided by experts based in medical science and it should continue to be guided through them.
As we have seen, there are other states who have not done so and have had to face a hard reality.
We all need to continue to fight against COVID together and continue to keep families healthy.
Q: Regardless of whether the federal government provides assistance, what is the impact of the pandemic on the state's economic outlook and what immediate and long-term actions should be taken to address it? Would you support increasing taxes to pay for COVID-19 response or to make up for lost revenue related to COVID-19?
A: Let us not forget that COVID has impacted 1.2 million residents by losing their jobs.
Several businesses have had to get used to the "new normal" as they slowly open.
There are several new needs that the state and municipalities had to take in order to make sure everyone had the resources needed.
Last May, I was able to vote for grants and loans for small business and provide relief for renters and homeowners along with increasing resources needed by families and passed a budget.
Sadly, the Trump administration has not shown the same leadership to push bills that would help families across the country.
Q: The graduated income tax is designed with the intent to reduce taxes for 97 percent of Illinoisans. Do you believe that will happen? Why or why not? What assurances can be given to voters?
A: It is time for those individuals who make more than $250,000 to pay their fair share of taxes. Middle-class families have paid enough taxes and it is hurting families. Ultimately, the decision to approve or deny the Fair Tax will be in the hands of the voters, not the elected officials, as it should be.
Q: Do you support any type of tax on retirement benefits?
A: No, I do not.
Q: Should Illinois prohibit lawmakers from lobbying other levels of government? Should lawmakers be prohibited from becoming lobbyists after their term in office? For how long?
A: Yes, not only do I agree lawmakers should not be able to become lobbyists in other levels of government, but they should also not be allowed to become lobbyists during their term.
This is why I would support a universal lobbying registration so we are aware when insiders and special interest groups are seeking to influence policy.
Q: What are the most important components that should be included in legislative ethics reform? What will you do to help them come to pass?
A: By placing tougher fines on politicians who abuse the public's trust, stripping pensions from politicians convicted of felonies, ending corrupt red-light camera schemes, and a universal lobbyist registration will be the first steps toward ethics reform.
I will urge my colleagues to work together to provide a bipartisan ethics reform.
Q: What should the state do to address the still-growing problems with its key pension programs?
A: For decades the pension program has been neglected by governors and elected officials from both parties. They both failed to make sufficient contributions and we have seen the negative impact that caused. Although, I realize there is no easy way to fix the issue, I have fought to require the state to make full pension payments. Therefore, we need to continue to fight.
Q: Do you believe climate change is caused by human activity? What steps should state government be taking to address the issue?
A: Yes, I am a proud co-sponsor of Clean Energy Jobs Act. CEJA will bring business and labor groups together to create tens of thousands of green jobs, while setting the goal of 100% renewable energy.
Q: Protesters have massed in the streets in Chicago and other cities across Illinois for greater social justice and changes in the funding and responsibilities for police. How significant a role does systemic racism play in limiting equal opportunity in Illinois? To the degree that it exists, what should be done about it? What, if any, changes should be made in funding and duties of police?
A: The murder of George Floyd, and killing of black men and women across our country is unacceptable.
I want to listen to my constituents' stories, thoughts and ideas and develop positive changes that can prevent any more killings from happening. We need to have an honest conversation about what needs to be done to end racial injustice in our communities.