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Al Fernandez: City Council Candidate [2009]

9 February 2009 RS 7 Comments

Al Fernandez at a candidates forum sponsored by Unity in the Community Al Fernandez at a candidates forum sponsored by Unity in the Community (Photo by The Elginite).

Al Fernandez is a candidate for Elgin City Council. Here is his background information and position statement (from his website):

I was born in Cuba and came to the United States in July of 1969 with my parents. We flew into Chicago as we had family here that helped us get our start. Education was extremely important to my parents and I attended private schools until my sophomore year in high school, when I transferred to Oak Park and River Forest High School. I attended Oak Park River Forest High School until I graduated in 1980. I then went to Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. I transferred from Bradley University to Concordia University in River Forest, Illinois, where I received a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. I later attended Northern Illinois University (while working full-time) and obtained a Masters In Public Administration (with a concentration in Urban Management). My education, which is specifically geared towards “Public Administration” is what distinguishes me from the other candidates. I have the background and education to help lead our community during this very serious time.

I am presently a police officer. I have been a police officer for the past 23 years. I have a very strong desire to help people and as a police officer I have been able to help numerous people in a time of need. I have been fortunate to have a variety of assignments; street patrol, tactical unit, field training officer, school resource officer, and Major Case Assistance Team Investigator. Throughout my career I have been frustrated at times by the lack of communication within departments in the village, and other resources within the county, state, and federal agencies. I believe that if we are able to coordinate resources from all agencies, we can better serve the public.

If I am fortunate enough to get your vote and become a member of the Elgin City Council, the only promise I will make you is that I will seriously look into your concerns and give you a direct answer back. I will not dance around an issue. I am a proponent of term limits and I will limit myself to no more than two full terms in the city council.

My philosophy of government is very simple. Government is here to make people’s lives better. In the present economic times where so many of us are wondering when this economic downturn will end, government has to be fiscally responsible and conservative. We need to be concerned about how we will spend your money. How do we provide the best service for the lowest cost? Do we cut back on some services so that we can provide others? Where are services duplicated with the county, state, and federal government? These are issues that need to be addressed.

I know that Elgin has a gang problem. I believe that with the help of the community we can solve the gang issue. One of the most important resources that we can enlist is parents. We need to educate parents on gangs. How many of you know what graffittti for the latin kings, gangster disciples, surenos, or any of the other street gangs look like? We need to educate the parents so that they can see what their children are getting into and provide them with services to help them keep their children out of gangs. We need to work collaboratively with U-46 to address these issues in school.

I believe that we should look into our housing ordinances and see what we can rewrite or enforce to curb overcrowding in a residence. We should be able to hold homeowners, landlords and tenants accountable for their actions.

I like where Mr. Fernandez stands on term limits. Opponents of term limits, which includes Emi Morales, say that voters can remove elected officials whenever they want. The reality of the matter, however, is that incumbency has huge advantages, and it is very difficult to remove incumbents even when they are grossly incompetent and/or evil. It is not a fair fight by any means. Term limits have other benefits besides helping to level the playing field. I won’t get into that, but for the record the other candidates (Mike Robins, Brenda Rodgers, Charlene Sligting and Mike Warren) are undecided on the issue, according to the Herald, but are willing to “move in that direction” if that’s what the community wants.

Mr. Fernandez also has a strong educational background, which is good, but I don’t know why it’s so hard for us to figure out where he’s a police officer. The papers never say which city or village–”suburban” and “northwest suburban” is all they will say, and his own site doesn’t say it. Obviously that’s something people are going to be curious about. It’s no different than if somebody came to you asking for a job and their resume says they are a “suburban police officer.” Would you hire them?

Well, this job is for city councilman, and we expect something a little more specific than “suburban” or “northwest suburban” police officer.

Mr. Fernandez’s responses to the Elgin League of Women Voters questionnaire:

1. What educational, occupational, civic and community experience have you had that you believe qualifies you for this office?

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Concordia University in River Forest, IL. I have a Master’s degree in Public Administration (with a concentration on Urban Management) from Northern Illinois University. I am currently a police officer and have been for the past 23 years.

2. In addition to current efforts of the City to deal with undocumented residents, what other actions, if any, can the City take?

The current programs that the City has in place and the actions that it is taking is an appropriate response in dealing with the undocumented residents in the area. Having police officers trained in the procedures that Immigration and Custom Enforcement uses to deport undocumented residents gives local police the ability to work with ICE.

3. Should the City’s emphasis be on providing amenities to the area west of Randall Road or on improving existing City neighborhoods?

I believe that slow, planned expansion west of Randall Road is just as important as improving existing neighborhoods. That is why there should be a comprehensive plan in place to address both, and this plan should be revisited yearly to ensure that the monies spent on both is being spent wisely.

It is worth noting that the LWV asked just three questions. The first has to do with qualifications. The last has to do with the Far West Side. But the second question is about illegal immigration. So I’m going to venture to guess that the issue is of concern to LWV members.

Mr. Fernandez is fairly clear in where he stands on the issue. Basically, he’s saying enough is being done and that’s all that can be done. Here is his response to the same question posed by AFLA:

3. Do you believe the presence of illegal aliens is a problem in Elgin? If so, what do you believe
the solution to be?

I do believe that illegal immigration is a problem for all communities. However, until
federal or state authorities pass other laws, the only option we have is what is currently being done, working
with the Immigration Customs Enforcement unit. They are the ones who have jurisdiction over illegal
immigration.

As you can see, his position is no different than the one that the city leaders have taken in the past several years. It’s a federal issue, etc. Of course, it took them more than ten years to decide to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, but we won’t get into that.

Al Fernandez is one of six candidates running for the 2-year city council seat vacated by Mike Powers. A February 24th primary will winnow the field down to three candidates. Two more candidate forums are scheduled for before then.

See also:

Comment policy
Candidates forum Thursday
Brenda Rodgers: City Council Candidate
Al Fernandez: City Council Candidate
Mike Warren: City Council Candidate
Questions for candidates
The SEIU candidates
Upcoming candidate forums
Candidate responses to AFLA questionnaire
City Council Candidates Forum (AFLA)
Linda Quezada: City Council Candidate
Emi Morales: City Council Candidate
John Prigge: City Council Candidate
Lenora Scruggs: City Council Candidate
Mike Robins: City Council Candidate
Charlene Sligting: City Council Candidate
Elgin candidates websites
Elgin City Council elections
Elgin City Council Candidates

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7 Responses to “Al Fernandez: City Council Candidate [2009]”

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  1. Mike Robins IMPORTANT says:

    Please refer to my blog section for recent post. Thankyou.

  2. Al Fernandez says:

    Hi everyone, I’ve been watching this blog and just wanted to clarify an issue. Looks like I’ve been put in a group of candidates that are “soft” on the immigration issue. I believe that what most people are upset about is the crime and overcrowding issue in Elgin, which they equate, with the immigration issue. Yes, illegal immigration does use our resources, however, we must proceed with caution, as we do not want to generate lawsuits.

    I am the only candidate that has a concrete comprehensive plan to reduce gangs, crime, and overcrowding. Over the past 23 years I have worked in various specialties including a gang-tactical unit. I have compiled numerous statutes that are already instituted in other municipalities. These statutes work!

    My approach is very simple. Let’s make it very expensive for criminals to operate in Elgin. Some of the ordinances that I am a proponent of are: A $500.00 impound fee on cars that are used in the commission of a crime (from not having a valid driver’s license to any other violation of the law). If you get arrested and you are driving a car, you must pay this impound fee directly to the city before you can get your car back.

    A “House of Nuisance” ordinance, which holds home owners and landlords accountable for the actions of people who live in their residence, and also includes “loitering” in front of these houses by gang members. This will give the city the ability to fine the landlords or homeowners up to $1000.00. I also believe that in order for a landlord to rent property that they need to file the lease with the city. If people are in violation of their lease (meaning that they have more people residing in the apartment or house than are listed in the lease then the landlord will be subject to fines and sanctions.

    I understand that illegal immigration is hurting us, however, I also understand that as a local government we have to abide by the constitution and federal guidelines in order to avoid lawsuits. Lets work together and reduce gangs, crime and overcrowding in Elgin. I will be happy to speak with you individually or in a group anytime that is convenient. Please check my website out at citizensforalfernandez.org and you can contact me through there or at he6828@yahoo.com.

    Thank you,
    Al Fernandez

  3. RS says:

    Mr. Fernandez, thank you for describing your position in detail.

    I think a lot of voters are just looking for a candidate to acknowledge that illegal immigration is in fact a problem for Elgin. With a mayor and possibly other council members who are actually in favor of illegal immigration, it would just be reassuring to know that a new councilman recognizes illegal immigration as something that is harmful rather than a boon for Elgin.

    As I said elsewhere, I like your position on term limits, your refusal to take money from the SEIU, and now that you have described it, I think your view on illegal immigration is reasonable. I think you have great potential as a reform-minded councilman, which is something that we really need.

    If you don’t make it in this election, I hope you will get an early start on the next city council election, build up a base of supporters, raise money and do all the things that are required to win in a competitive race.

  4. Al Fernandez says:

    RS, thank you for the kind words. I would like to point out a few things to make things clearer for people. The AFLA endorsed candidates have nothing on their websites that is new or that I have not covered. One candidate advocates the use of E-Verify, ACCESS, and the 287G program. Elgin already uses E-Verify and ACCESS, and as far as the 287G program (that allows police officers to enforce immigration laws)Local law enforcement has to follow the guidelines and protocol that ICE sets. I believe in making Elgin a safe community for our children and for us. Let’s use the laws that have been proven to work to remove gangs and criminals from other towns to our benefit. Let’s avoid costly lawsuits. Let’s pass the cost of enforcing our laws to the criminals by using the ordinances that I listed. And, if we arrest someone who falls within the parameters set by ICE for deportation let’s use that as a tool also.

    I am also the only candidate with a Master’s in Public Administration (Urban Management). I received my Master’s from Northern Illinois University which is one of the top 3 schools in the nation for Public Administration. I have the training to work with the budget, local development, tax incentives, and all the other aspects of local government.

    I urge anyone with interest about my abilities or stands on issues to contact me personally, or if there is a group that would like to speak with me, I will be more than glad to set up a time to meet. Please contact me at he6828@yahoo.com or through my website, citizensforalfernandez.org.
    Thanks
    Al Fernandez

  5. Sarah says:

    Hi Al, elgin uses the e-verify for city applicants, not for expanding it to city contracts and checking employers who hire people with city contracts. This is a great idea i spoke to Mike R. about. I hope its clear to you now. Also, elgin police do use the access program with ice but have no 287g nor did they apply for the 287g, Robins faxed the internal memo to me. We should have some of the officers in and trained in the 287g. Ice does set protocal, however, Robins and Prigge will tackle this more than you or the other candidates have brought out. You talk about law suits! You will have them if you advocate impounding someones car from not having their drivers license! Al, the constitution is already in place and allows for legal actions to be taken with illegal immigrants with legal means already being used, we dont need to be paranoid about lawsuits. Robins has brought up civil gang injuctions with our city attorneys. You seem like a very nice man, but new with some of this! Just adding some clarity, thanks.

  6. starshine says:

    Sarah, I heard from an HR friend that the E-verify is not 100% accurate, that’s the controversy. Now I have not research this and only talk to one person on it. 287g didn’t the epd apply for this program but the waiting list is long or something like that?

  7. Al Fernandez says:

    Sarah,the vehicle impound ordinance is widely used by many of the surrounding towns. Streamwood, Hanover Park, Schaumburg, Palatine, Hoffman Estates, Rolling Meadows,and many many more. The lawsuits that were triggered by it have been addressed and the ordinance has been modified. There have been no new lawsuits filed that I am aware, of in over two years. Same thing with the “house of nuisance” ordinance. Many towns have it in place and it works. It keeps gang members from “hanging out” at their friend’s house because the fines are very high. It also keeps gang members from hanging around apartment complexes because the landlord is held accountable and usually kicks out whoever they are coming to visit because of the fines.

    As far as the e-verify system and checking contractors, I think its a good idea. Here is the problem I see with it. What’s to keep a contractor who has 15 employees to submit only the names of 10 employees who have legal status here? 287g is also a good program, but once again we are at the mercy of ICE to set the parameters. I have connections with supervisors and agents that work with ICE and they are under strict directions from Washington on what qualifies for a deportation and what does not. Elgin can meet with the supervisors at ICE and talk to them until they are blue in the face, and it will not change until Washington changes the critirea for deportation.

    My ideas will target all criminals. It will target overcrowding. Make Elgin a safer community. These ordinances will generate revenue which can be used to combat the gang problem and help make our community safe. Criminal will not want to hang around here because it will become expensive for them. And these ordinances can be implemented right away. They have been used by many other towns successfully to address their gang problems.

    I have copies of these ordinances and would be willing to meet with anyone to discuss them. Please contact me at he6828@yahoo.com or through my website at citizensforalfernandez.org. My website now has a gang presentation that is informational and you can download it. Please take advantage of it.
    Al Fernandez