Candidate Full Name: Jhatayn 'Jay' Travis
Office: State Representative (IL-26)
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web Site: www.jayfor26.com
Campaign Name: Jay Travis for 26th District State Representative
Mailing Address: 1507 E. 53rd St. #490, Chicago IL 60615
Video Link: Click here to see a video message from the candidate
Survey Questions (Character limit of 2,000 per response)
1. Please tell us about yourself, your background and why you believe you are qualified to hold this office.
I have a track record of representing the interests of grassroots constituencies in the face of powerful political and corporate interests. I am not a political insider. I am not a darling of the corporate billionaire class that seeks to destroy labor unions. I am an independent leader who has been accountable to most vulnerable families that live in the 26th district for over 20 years. I have dedicated my professional life to working for non-profit organizations with an anti-poverty agenda based on my belief of the right of all residents to live, work and retire with dignity and respect.
I was born, raised and educated in the communities that comprise the 26th district -- at Horace Mann Elementary School and Kenwood High School. My family moved to the district two generations ago, and instilled in me a commitment to the core values of fairness, justice and equality--- values that I live by today. My little sister, who I helped raise after our mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, is a respected public school teacher -- and I'm honored to have the support of her union and teachers like her across Chicago.
I began working as an organizer at the age of 19. For more than two decades, I've worked to organize people to stand up to slumlords, improve conditions in the homes of our seniors, and bring quality neighborhood public education and economic opportunity to the families of our district. We organized and fought hard to pass Public Act 1225, which secured $14 million in state funding to create over 5,000 summer jobs for Chicago youth, as a way to help teach our kids the importance of responsibility and hard work. I worked closely with parents and educators organizing to keep Dyett High School open -- and to preserve the critical role this open enrollment high school plays as a center of accessible education and community engagement. And as the executive director of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization -- KOCO -- for 12 years, I helped bring one of the city's most storied and respected grassroots community groups into a period of vibrant renewal for the 21st Century.
As a product of Chicago Public Schools, I know the value of having a quality public neighborhood school within walking distance of your home. I have fought for evidenced-based reform in our schools and to keep our neighborhood schools open and equitably resourced. I also believe strongly that troubled students and students who struggle academically should be supported, not pushed out of school by zero tolerance policies -- which is why I worked with a coalition of community organizations to change CPS school code to limit the use of 2 week expulsions. I've been down in Springfield to lobby and rally for fair tax policies for our state, and I've been a vocal opponent of the union-busting, corporate privatization agenda of Governor Rauner and Rahm Emanuel -- a toxic agenda that has led to the firing of thousands of union workers and the closing of dozens of neighborhood public schools.
My campaign is built on accountability and a commitment to putting ordinary people first, and my campaign is financed by ordinary working people and the labor projects that represent them -- just as it was when I first ran for this office two years ago. We narrowly lost that campaign, and I'm proud to say that we've built strong support in the north side communities that tilted towards my opponent two years ago. That support this time comes from both local residents and the elected officials who represent them. I've been endorsed by Aldermen Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward), Brian Hopkins (2nd Ward), Leslie Hairston (5th Ward) and Sue Garza (10th Ward), who together represent the majority of the 26th District. Our growing list of endorsers counts among our supporters labor and civic groups from across the metro area, including the Chicago Teachers Union, Illinois Federation of Public Employees Local 4408, Amalgamated Transit Union LOCAL 308, the Illinois Federation of Teachers. the Network For Public Education Action, Citizen Action Illinois, United Working Families, AFT Local 604, North Suburban Teachers Union Local 1274, People United For Action, SUAAction -- the State Universities Annuitants Association and the Badass Teachers Association, along with U.S. Congressman Danny Davis.
I'm committed to addressing Illinois' structural deficit by bringing real fairness to our tax system -- including requiring those who have more to pay their fair share. I will also continue to fight for democratic governance of Chicago's public school system through an elected representative school board, as a way to address the corruption, fiscal irresponsibility and failed education policies that have been at play in our district for far too long. I am a stalwart opponent of Governor Rauner's anti-worker, pro-privatization agenda, and will fight for labor rights, protection for our seniors' retirement security and funding for our woefully underfunded public education system -- including our public community colleges and universities and the critical student aid programs that make it possible for thousands of working class and middle class young people to pursue higher education.
As both an organizer and now a candidate, I regularly canvass the neighborhoods that make up the district. What I hear most from voters is that they want leaders who are accountable to local families and responsive to ordinary residents' needs. That's the kind of commitment I've brought to my work as an effective organizer for the last 20 years -- and the kind of commitment and competence I'll bring to Springfield as the district's state representative.
2. Governor Bruce Rauner and other politicians are pushing for term limits for Illinois legislators. Do you favor term limits? Why or why not? If yes, what type of term limits do you favor?
I oppose term limits for legislators, but would support considering limiting the number of sequential terms a legislator can serve in a leadership position, as a way to broaden the discussion of ideas within caucuses and parties and bring greater democracy and accountability into our party infrastructures.
3. What solution would you propose to get a budget passed in the State of Illinois?
First and foremost, it's critical that we reject any approach that demands that we sacrifice labor rights and the economic security of retired public workers at the alter of a 'compromise' budget. Governor Rauner and his allies are pouring millions of dollars into Democratic primary races to try to further tilt the balance against legislators who've refused this false choice, at the same time that public pressure continues to grow for a budget based on fair revenue solutions and a rejection of Rauner's politics of austerity and disenfranchisement. At the same time, we've seen an upsurge in public support for progressive policies that put the needs of ordinary people first. I'm committed to doing my part to build this popular movement -- as a way to strengthen the resolve of legislators to make responsible choices to bring in new revenue -- and to caucusing with the growing number of progressive populist candidates and elected officials to pass a budget built on fairness for working families and the most needy, instead of the interests of the wealthy few.
4. Chicago is the only city in Illinois with an appointed school board. Other large American cities, including San Francisco, elect their school board members. Would you favor changing Illinois law to provide Chicago with an elected school board? Why or why not?
I have been a tireless advocate of an elected representative school board for the people of Chicago for over a decade, and have worked in lockstep with local families, educators and activists to push for this fundamental democratic right. This issue will be a key legislative priority for me in Springfield -- in no small part because it's time to end the lack of accountability, the pay to play inside dealing and the consequent corruption that a lack of transparent democracy has driven, particularly in recent years, in our school system.
5. Voters say they are turned off by the negative and misleading TV ads that dominate the air waves. However, campaign and election experts say candidates rely on them because "they work." Will you and your campaign agree to refrain from running negative ads from now until the election?
We're working extremely hard to focus on the critical core issues at stake in this campaign -- particularly those that strongly separate me from my opponent. My opponent, on the other hand, has launched a vicious and profoundly dishonest smear campaign against me that recycles the same smear he deployed two years ago -- in no small part to avoid running on his record, which is deeply troubling to voters. Nonetheless, my campaign mailers continue to focus on the positives -- who I am, what my record of community service is, my growing list of endorsers, and most importantly, my position on the issues and my commitment to represent our residents with integrity, compassion and honor.