Candidate questionnaires

Placeholder for Darren Tillis

Darren Tillis

Candidate for City Council, 24th Ward

Darren Tillis

Candidate for City Council, 24th Ward

Placeholder for Darren Tillis

Education: Illinois State University, BS Finance

Occupation: Independent Insurance Agent

Home: chicago

Age: Not answered

Past Political/Civic Experience: Not answered

Candidates running for City Council, 24th Ward


Responses to the Chicago Tribune's questionnaire

Q: Last year, the Chicago Tribune's investigative series "Broken Bonds" reported that, since 2000, Chicago had issued long-term bonds to spend nearly $10 billion, much of it for short-term operating expenses. Hundreds of millions of dollars went to delay bond payments by refinancing old debts, a tactic known as "scoop and toss" that extends payments far into the future. Was this borrowing justified? Going forward, how should City Hall change its finances to pay down existing debts and provide services? Will you argue primarily for cuts in spending or for tax increases? Please be specific.

1) No, the city has to be transparent with the current debt crisis and communicate effectively to the taxpayers of Chicago the plan to pay down debts and how this plan will affect the residents and the services they are provided. We need to develop an action plan to reduce the debt without compromising current services or eroding our infrastructure. Future bond issuances should require a thorough cost-benefit analysis on all projects. There is always a sensitive balance to cuts in spending or tax increases however, understanding the overall impact and providing transparency will provide for the right course of action.


Q: Chicago will face a substantial increase in contributions to its police and fire pension funds in 2016. Chicago's unfunded pension liability amounts to about $7,000 for each resident of the city. How should the city solve its pension crisis? Please be specific about pension changes, spending cuts or revenue increases you would support.

2) Pension reform throughout the United States has been ineffective do controllable and uncontrollable factors. Reform has failed to reduce the overall cost of public pensions and they have failed to reduce the financial risk to taxpayers. The barriers to reform can only be removed by the federal government. The federal government should focus on making it harder for states to skip payments into their pension system, eliminate accounting rules that scare states from defined contribution retirement systems and strengthening the incentives for retirement savings.


Q: What changes should be made in the city's use of tax increment financing? Would you support expansion or extension of TIF districts in your ward? How should excess TIF funds be spent? Do you support the $55 million allotment of TIF funds to buy land for a Marriott Hotel and DePaul basketball arena? Please explain.

3) I think alderman should have more control and decision-making ability with TIF funding within their wards. I would like to see the cost-benefit analysis for the Marriot Hotel and DePaul arena deal.


Q: The Tribune Editorial Board recently offered "12 ways to heal a city" — the best ideas among more than 1,000 suggestions from readers on how to craft "A new Plan of Chicago." These proposals are available at chicagotribune.com/plan. Please tell us which ideas you would champion. We invite you to offer additional ideas for dealing with Chicago's challenges.

The "12 ways to heal a city" is a great blueprint towards community improvement and community engagement.


Q: Should the City Council keep or abolish the office of legislative inspector general? Should the city inspector general be given the authority to investigate aldermen and their staff members? Do you have other ideas to improve government ethics in Chicago? Please explain.

5) There should be a governing body that police alderman that is fair and equitable in their decision making process, ultimately providing justice for taxpayers of Chicago.


Q: The Chicago Public Schools system has seen significant improvements in freshmen on track and high school graduation rates. CPS has also closed dozens of schools, used fiscal 2016 revenue to balance its 2015 budget and faces a roughly $700 million pension payment in 2016. Please give us your assessment of the academic and financial performance of the city's public schools. What is the key to improving public education in the city? Should members of the Board of Education be elected by the public or continue to be appointed by the mayor? Do you support the longer school day and year? Should CPS expand or reduce the number of charter schools? How should CPS close its significant budget gap?

6) The key to improving our education system is by educating, informing and equipping the parents with tools and resources necessary to work with school officials when developing great schools. Parent engagement is one of the major obstacles to school success.


Q: How would you attract more employers to your ward? How would you encourage employers to hire local residents? What have you done to promote economic development in your ward?

7) * Develop a comprehensive plan that involves attracting new residents. *Create a vibrant small business community that promotes hiring from community. *I've worked on several community intiatives around improving the community and promoting economic development. I've started a business that hires from the community, I'm a founding member to bring the Presidential Library to North Lawndale, I've lead and managed youth employment and professional development programs, I've returned properties back to tax rolls by rehabbing them and providing affordable housing options.


Q: Do you support or oppose the City Council vote to increase the minimum wage in several steps to $13 an hour by 2019? Please explain.

I support the city council vote to increase the minimum wage. As a business owner providing a minimum wage helps residents live sustainable lives while working towards bettering there outcome.


Q: Should the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art be built at the proposed location on Chicago's lakefront? Please explain.

Chicago is a city of neighborhoods; the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art project could help transform communities that have been void of econic development.


Q: How can the city improve public safety? Please address the role and performance of the Chicago Police Department and the role of neighborhood residents in crime prevention. What have you done to improve public safety in your community?

The Chicago Police Department is just one part of our public safety issue. Most activities that take place within the ward involve activities with young adults. A key way to deal with the problem of public safety is job creation and quality programing that helps develop our youth. When adults and children are working they're less likely to be involved in activities that contribute to our current public safety issues.


Q: Do you support Chicago's traffic light camera program? Please explain.

The traffic light camera program was flawed from the inception of the deal, it needs to be re-evaluated , examined in an effort to come up with a solution to the problem with the initial reason why camera were installed.


Q: Should Chicago reduce the number of aldermen in the City Council?

NO


Q: What is your highest priority for improving your ward? What is the greatest concern you hear from residents of your ward?

Education and economic development.


Q: Please tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.

I'm an avid marathon runner; I've completed 6 marathons in the last seven years


City Council, 24th Ward