*EDITOR’S NOTE: Candidates submitted their own biographies
Lucia and her family moved to Oak Park from Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood in 1983. She attended Ascension Elementary School, and then Oak Park and River Forest High School. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and earned a law degree from DePaul University College of Law.
While a law student, she developed a passion to serve under-privileged communities through the DePaul Legal Clinic and the Women’s Clemency Project. As an attorney, she continues her commitment to marginalized individuals through volunteer work at her church and offering legal advice on a pro-bono basis. Lucia has a first-hand perspective into the lives of individuals who lack adequate legal representation and disparities in the justice system, particularly for women of color.
Lucia is an attorney with a 20+ year career in the financial industry. She concentrates on government regulation, creating and implementing ethics and compliance protocol. Her skills include analyzing statutory requirements, exercising due diligence and maintaining internal controls to operate with integrity and guard against legal risks.
Lucia and her family have lived in Northeast Oak Park since 2007. She has served as a Hatch Elementary School parent volunteer and has been a proud supporter of art programs in the local high school, principally the Spoken Word Poetry program. Lucia believes Trustees should listen, then lead. This includes maintaining a level of accessibility and accountability to residents to understand what’s important to them. No one should feel ignored in our Village.
What are the biggest equity challenges Oak Park faces, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and how will you address those challenges? Equity includes race, ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, sexual orientation, income level, religion, as well as physical and cognitive capability.
Oak Park’s biggest equity challenge is making sure that we remain a community that is affordable and welcoming to all. Oak Park’s promise is one of inclusion which largely depends on being able to live here. The pandemic has had 2 impacts on equity – one is
the devastating impact on our small businesses, which results in less tax revenue for the Village and therefore, higher property taxes. This places our economic, and therefore our racial diversity, at risk. I will work to rebuild the business community through marketing efforts and by making sure that Village Hall is responsive to business needs.
A more immediate equity concern is the distribution of the COVID vaccine. COVID has affected our seniors, communities of color and homeless individuals disproportionately. It is critical that vaccine rollout plans are clearly communicated to these groups with collaborative efforts to provide transportation, accessible vaccination
sites and solutions to any other barriers that prevent the widespread distribution of the vaccine.
How do you intend to balance the priorities and needs of the community with the financial realities of COVID-19 equitably without inordinately increasing taxation of residents? What are the priorities and needs, in your eyes?
The needs of the community are in tension with the need to keep taxes down in an era of lost revenue. I would use property tax dollars to fund basic services as well as seek alternate sources of revenue for community needs. For example, the cannabis tax revenue is currently dedicated to capital needs. I would put those dollars in the general fund to help pay for partner agency services. I would also continue to focus on reasonable economic development as a source of property revenue and for the affordable housing fund. Finally, it is important that the Village identify and apply for state and federal grants to help us through these difficult economic times.
What does community policing in Oak Park mean to you and do you believe the village should spend less, the same or more on policing and police facilities?
I would not decrease the police force in any way that negatively impacts public safety. The community policing model incorporates partnerships between residents and police to engage in shared problem-solving. When relationships are established, trust is built and conflict is de-escalated. I would ensure that the Village’s police department continues to innovate how it delivers community policing. I am not in favor of a new police station at this time due to fiscal challenges.
Business and non-profits have suffered due to COVID-19. How will you help facilitate their recovery?
I support the Village’s marketing plan for small businesses and the extension of that plan to social media and email outreach. I also would like to provide business liaison services to help businesses access federal and state relief. This position would assist existing and new businesses in Oak Park.
How will you address the affordability of living in Oak Park, while understanding that affordability must extend to renters as well as homeowners?
There are two primary ways affordability is impacted in Oak Park. One is through the tax levy and the other is the availability of affordable housing. The tax levy should be maintained at 3% and I will strive to keep that standard in the next budget turn. Affordable housing is a goal that is greatly impacted by the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance. Currently, the Village’s Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance requires developers of market rate housing to make 10% of their units affordable or contribute $100,000 in cash for each of these units. These contributions are used to fund programs that assist cost-burdened residents. I would re-examine these numbers to make sure they adequately address the needs of those struggling to make ends meet.
What life experiences do you have that give you the capability to serve on the village board and to guide staff through complicated times?
I am a Mexican-American woman and have watched generations in my family overcome language, educational and economic barriers. My parents moved to Oak Park to provide better opportunities for their children. I am proud to be a long-time resident of this community, having attended Ascension and then OPRF. In addition, raising my children here has given me a broad perspective of Oak Park with an appreciation of its strengths and areas for improvement. As an attorney in the finance industry, I have a strong sense of ethics and the critical thinking skills to address problems with clarity and vision. I would be honored to serve this community on the Village Board.