1.) What is the importance of the Champaign County Board to residents in your district?
As a Democrat I am voted into office by my party who lives in District 8. I represent their interests and take those concerns to the County Board. Voting on issues, regardless of political party affiliation, is made through my Democratic lens.
2.) Why are you qualified to be on the Champaign County Board?
Proven experience, including serving on the County Board for 11 years—2 years as Vice-Chair and the last 2 years as Chair. But qualifications cannot be determined by mandated duties and responsibilities of an elected official alone. It is understanding the community you represent. I attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign during a controversial time, still reeling from Project 500—a poorly planned recruitment of 500 inner city students who were subjected to a lingering Jim Crow atmosphere in this County. In addition, students of color were at odds with the Black community. We coined it, “Town and Gown”. Community members north of University felt the Black Students from Chicago, looked down on them. The banality of normalcy within these conflicts—included the murder of our star football player on homecoming weekend. When I returned to Champaign County, as a UIUC administrator 30 years ago, I found little had changed, so I immersed myself into social justice groups, working to right the wrongs. Soon it became clear, the only sustainable change came from holding an elected office. It was after my first 4 years as a Champaign City Council member at-large that I realized creating uniform change that impacted the entire county and its citizens—would come from the Champaign County Board. And though government bureaucracy is inherently slow— as an immigrant, my family was forced to rebuild a life from the crumbs we brought from Cuba—that taught me patience, perseverance, humility and integrity—qualifications for political office.
3.) If elected, what is something you want to accomplish on the County Board, and how long will it take?
During the next 5 years my primary interest is to ensure our County’s goals and mission for inclusivity and diversity on our Board reflects the citizens within our County. That our Board members welcome collaborative independent views and find ways to integrate those ideas into the conversation. To think outside of the box. To revisit all of the Board and County’s policies to determine what needs to be revised and updated in an effort to move forward with the times. The jail issue needs to have deadlines to motivate Board members assigned to develop a workable draft to complete and submit to the entire Board for review. I recently filled a vacated Board seat with a person who has the experience and knowledge to assist in this crucial effort.
4.) Is there anything else you would like to say to an undecided voter?
I often hear some of our County Democrats stating they have a “different” vision for our party. As a lifelong member of the Democratic Party and considered a “strong Dem”, by voting Democrat in every Primary and Presidential election without interruption—I adhere to the “vision” of the platform and preamble from our National platform.