• electemilyrodriguez

CCVA Candidate Questionnaire

1.) What is the importance of the Champaign County Board to residents in your district?

The County Board is on the frontlines of government. The decisions they make impact the everyday lives of residents. When communities are hurting, it’s the County Board’s job to help. If the County Board does their job well, residents get the basics— affordable housing, public safety, vibrant neighborhoods, and fair courts.

2.) Why are you qualified to be on the Champaign County Board?

I am the progressive candidate for County Board District 8. I’ve taken on leadership roles as Chair of the Citizen Police Review Subcommittee and as an Administrator at the grassroots activist group CU Indivisible. My record shows I fight diligently for government transparency and that I have a knack for enacting bold solutions. Our County Board has been bogged down by outdated ideas and lethargic leadership. My candidacy brings energy, a fresh vision, and Latinx experiences to the County Board. I’m building a life in Champaign County, and I want to represent you on the County Board.

3.) If elected, what is something you want to accomplish on the County Board, and how long will it take?

I’m running for Champaign County Board because 25% of our neighbors are trapped below the poverty level. I’ll back solutions that break the generational cycle of poverty and reduce its harms. In doing so, we will stabilize our budget, expand our tax base, and become less reliant on the wealthiest 1% of taxpayers for revenue. My plan for Champaign County has five parts: First, I’ll work with others on the Board to open a public conversation about emergency and recovery housing. We can begin that conversation on day one. Ultimately, I seek to increase affordable housing options in Champaign County and deepen the Board’s relationship with the Housing Authority. I also want to shrink our incarceration system. Before 2022, I’d seek to demolish the defunct downtown jail and commit to dramatically reduce the number of beds in the satellite jail. This makes sense for many reasons. For example, the State Legislature is expected to end cash bail soon. Between 70-90% of our jail population is awaiting trial, meaning they have not been convicted of a crime, they are waiting to make bail. With this change, we can expect the needs of the jail to decrease significantly with fewer people. Third, I am committed to building a meaningful partnership between the County Board and our local building and construction trade unions. Before 2022, I would work to mandate pre-hire collective bargaining agreements on county-backed projects. These community labor agreements have been found to improve safety on worksites, lower costs, and open the trades to women and people of color. Community labor agreements are just one way we can ensure more workers in Champaign County get a livable wage. Next, I will expand access to mental health services and substance use disorder treatment. An estimated 22,000 Champaign County residents deal with substance use disorder, and the current wait time for recovery treatment is 6 months - 1 year. We need to expand access to treatment and encourage community solutions like recovery housing. Also, the harms of homelessness and drug use often overlap in ways the County should consider when they make policy decisions. In the 2018 point-in-time survey, there were 188 individuals across 140 households experiencing homelessness in Champaign County. We have a great need for 24-hour emergency and temporary housing options that can accommodate women and families, and the County Board needs to partner with local groups and organizations like Cunningham Township to make those resources available to residents. Finally, progress doesn't have to mean higher taxes. In the long run, we need to restructure our budget to better reflect our values. Approving home rule would give the County the flexibility needed to reallocate the revenue we already have. Until then, Champaign County should take advantage of federal grants that would likely become available under a new presidential administration. For example, the HOME Investment Partnerships Program and the Second Chance Act has received bipartisan support, but funding for these programs has dropped dramatically in recent years. These programs could fund the anti-poverty measures we so desperately need.

4.) Is there anything else you would like to say to an undecided voter?

I am the progressive candidate for County Board District 8. I have been putting down roots in our community for 5 years. I plan to use the resources we have to invest in the resilience of our community. Champaign County is in desperate need of a fresh vision. Too many of our neighbors are struggling to get the basics. Voters in Champaign County have given Democrats a clear mandate to govern in past elections, we have a meaningful set of policy priorities, and it’s time we made good on our promises.

Review all county board candidate responses here.