8 questions for candidates for Illinois State Senate

·68 min read

The Illinois Senate found itself with a new president this year following the unexpected announcement that John Cullerton would retire. Democrats voted to elect Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, as their new president.

Democrats in the Senate hold a big advantage over Republicans, 40 Democrats to 19 Republicans. That’s a supermajority.

To help voters weigh their options on the November ballot, we asked candidates in contested races to submit a questionnaire about their plans if elected. Here are those surveys:

Illinois continues down the path of unfunded pension liabilities with no easy solutions in sight. What should Illinois lawmakers do about it?

My approach is and has been to define the “pension problem” as what it actually is: A debt problem. In 2010 Illinois passed Tier 2 pension legislation and as a result, every state worker, teacher, judge and State University employee is now part of new sustainable pension system that has dramatically lower benefits than the previous system, and dramatically lower costs. In some cases, the entire cost of the benefit is paid for by the employee contribution (meaning, the state, or taxpayer has no cost). The problem is not the pension system that is currently offered, but rather the debt that we owe to the old system. As such, I would continue to support the work I did as Chair of the House Committee on Personnel and Pensions. First, I would support an expansion of constitutionally permissible reforms based on the concept of a true consideration model. I worked with Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) on a series of “buyouts.” These buyouts give recent retirees and inactive members the option of selling a portion of their benefits to the state in exchange for a discounted cash payment. These plans have been effective and are on track to save the state hundreds of millions of dollars, without unilaterally stripping benefits from retirees. Additionally, I advanced supported efforts to consolidate local pension plans in order to save administrative costs and leverage assets for better returns. I have been and continue to support asset transfers as a tool to improve funded liabilities. I also support and have been personally working on a plan to re-amortize the repayment of the pension debt so as to ensure that Illinois pays back this debt without “kicking the can” and at the greatest possible savings to the taxpayer. Finally, I do believe that the shortcomings of the Tier 2 system need to be addressed. There is ample evidence to suggest that retirement provided to Tier 2 retirees may, in many instances, be insufficient to satisfy the provisions of the federal safe harbor provision. If this happens, Illinois will be responsible for retroactively providing social security benefits to these employees. This would be another financial disaster that Illinois simply cannot withstand. We can and must avoid this by making minor reforms to the Tier 2 system by allowing the wage cap to match the growth of the Social Security wage cap. Additionally, in many instances where the Tier 2 benefit does satisfy safe harbor, it will still be woefully insufficient alone to provide for that employee in retirement. This creates the potential that large swaths of public sector retirees may be applying for public assistance in order to make ends meet in their retirement, further burdening our budget and putting upward pressure on taxes. In order to help avoid this, I passed a law creating a statewide, improved (high performing, low cost) deferred compensation system for teachers and the implementation of automatic enrollment and participation in the state’s deferred compensation system. This costs taxpayers nothing, but will help public sector employees save their own money to sufficiently supplement their retirements, minimizing their need for taxpayer funded public assistance.

Voters will decide in November whether to change the Constitution from a flat income tax to a graduated tax. Do you support this idea AND do you believe middle class taxpayers can be protected from future hikes? How so?

The best way to protect taxpayers from future hikes is to be honest about what has caused tax hikes in the past, and prevent that from happening in the future. Historically, Illinois has run budget deficits, built up a huge backlog of bills and shorted pension payments. Inevitably, when we reach the breaking point, we raise various “revenues” (taxes, fees, etc), with the overwhelming majority falling on the backs of the middle class, and make cuts to services that provide opportunity to the middle class. Gov. Rauner entered office with a promise to eliminate waste fraud and abuse and yet, was unable to identify a single wasteful project. Instead he made massive cuts to essential services and accumulated another $12 billion in debt for taxpayers. Now, Illinois is faced with another fiscal crisis and a long term revenue trajectory that falls short of our commitments to debt service and education funding. In order to protect the middle class we must pass the Fair Tax. The Fair Tax will raise the revenue we need to balance our budgets now and into the future, which will prevent the need for future tax increases; and it will not only prevent tax increases for the middle class, but will give them relief.

Tell us what you hear most from constituents. What is their top priority of lawmakers in Springfield?

I hear many concerns from my constituents. People are worried about civil unrest, violence and creating a more just system of criminal justice. They are very concerned that the state ensures a smooth and stable, yet robust recovery from the pandemic that allows the middle class to thrive, but protects society from potential future outbreaks. Although, I come from a solidly middle class district and my constituents are a strong willed and hard working bunch and their greatest priority for me continues to be that every level of government work to provide opportunities to them and their families, and fix our financial problems.

What is, or would be, your top two priorities if elected?

I have always focused on financial problems and while I expect to finally pass a bill to create an elected representative school board for CPS, I will continue to focus on finding solutions to our state’s financial problems and creating a more predictable, stable and fair property tax system.

What can be done in your district to keep residents and businesses from leaving Illinois?

The vast majority of residents leaving Illinois are middle, working class and poor who are overburdened by an exceptionally regressive system of taxation. Since Illinois cannot extinguish its debt, the best way to stem the tide of outmigration is to reform our tax system to make it more fair. A fair tax system would raise the revenues needed to balance budgets, properly fund education, reduce property taxes and pay our debt service, without over taxing those who are already overburdened. Illinois needs to offer a better long term vision to those who are leaving. That means easing the tax burden and improving opportunities for success, like an affordable college education.

Due to an unfolding federal investigation, should Michael Madigan remain in his positions in state government? Which ones? Why or why not?

The allegations in the ComEd case are horrible. No one in Illinois should feel that their elected leaders are working against them and not for them. I support a full investigation by law enforcement authorities and the Legislative Inspector General. In the event Madigan is indicted and/or charged by law enforcement authorities, he should follow the example he has set with members who serve under him, and he should resign. Until Speaker Madigan is charged, the decision on whether or not he continues in his roles needs to be answered by the people he serves. His voters will decide if he continues to be a State Representative, and the members of the House of Representatives must decide if he continues to be Speaker of that body.

What is one ethics reform proposal you think would make a difference to keep elected officials more accountable and transparent?

Illinois should adopt a truly independent Legislative Inspector General.

Please evaluate the job Gov. J.B. Priztker has done managing the coronavirus pandemic. What concerns do you have? What advice would you give him?

Gov. Pritzker has done an excellent job managing the pandemic. I am especially happy that he has made decisions according to the advice of scientific and medical experts, and as such, Illinois' performance has been exemplary. The guidelines have been clear and concise. The only area where I thought the Governor’s office fell short was in the administration of unemployment benefits. But that comes with a caveat: No one could have possibly prepared for the sheer volume of applications. In hindsight, I wish the state had put more resources toward staffing more quickly to ensure that people in need did not have the frustration of waiting weeks for their benefits to be processed.

Illinois continues down the path of unfunded pension liabilities with no easy solutions in sight. What should Illinois lawmakers do about it?

Pensions are a very important issue in Illinois. First, we need a bigger tax payer base. We have to bring more jobs back to Illinois and have lower taxes across the board, including: business, property, income, and other hidden taxes. Lower taxes will attract businesses to invest and open, which will employ more tax payers. People will be incited to return to Illinois if taxes are lower, like our neighboring states: Indiana, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Also, pensioners like CTU employees have to pay their fair share into their pensions. There are approximately 20,000 people employed by the CTU and they only contribute 2% to their pensions. Prior to this, they were paying zero. I currently pay 9.75% into my pension, which is the norm with pensioners. We have to start looking at fairness across the board. Tax payers should not be responsible for paying salaries and pensions. If CTU employees started paying their fair share, this would help the pension deficit in Illinois. I’m not saying CTU employees should go straight from 2% to 9.75%, but this can be gradually done over a 4 year period. Pensions will not be fixed overnight, but we need to start taking steps to fix them immediately.

Voters will decide in November whether to change the Constitution from a flat income tax to a graduated tax. Do you support this idea AND do you believe middle class taxpayers can be protected from future hikes? How so?

Governor Pritzker spent $56 Million of his own money on a marketing campaign to promote this horrific bill. We can only wonder what the governor is getting out of this by spending this much of his Daddy’s money. I am totally opposed to the proposed graduated income tax, also known as the progressive income tax. Giving the politicians of Springfield a blank check is the worst thing the people of the state can do. The liberal Democrats try to make it sound so pretty and that the middle class will not be affected by this amendment, which is a complete lie. These politicians will have the ability to change the tax code at their whim. Businesses will also be affected, which will force them to leave the state and more people will lose their jobs. This will also spiral into many different directions. Retirees will be taxed on their pensions and by year two of this debacle, the middle class will be affected because the dirty politicians in Springfield will want more of their hard-earned money.

Tell us what you hear most from constituents. What is their top priority of lawmakers in Springfield?

There are many issues that exist in every area of our state, especially high taxes and the governor mandated shut down. The first issue is we have many empty storefronts. Some of this is associated with the high taxes placed on businesses, which is forcing them to leave the state. Another reason is the extreme restrictions placed by the governor during the Covid-19 pandemic, which bankrupted businesses, and some will never resurrect. The second issue is the low-income housing projects that local officials crafted with backroom deals benefiting themselves and their cronies. The problem with low income housing is property values decline, there are not enough schools, infrastructure is not equipped for the density, the tax burden is eventually shifted to tax payers after credits expire, traffic headaches, and overall population density. Another issue is extremely high property taxes, which are plaguing the entire state. My district does not only include Chicago. It also includes some of the Northwest suburbs. The problems that exist in the city, might not exist in the suburbs and vice versa.

What is, or would be, your top two priorities if elected?

My top legislative concerns are fighting the unfair progressive income tax, getting better legislation that will fund the police, rather than defunding them like so many leftist Democrats are proposing. If I could name a third, it would be stopping the development of low income housing projects, which they are trying to construct all over my senate district. There are many more priorities that exist in my district and throughout the state.

What can be done in your district to keep residents and businesses from leaving Illinois?

Lowering taxes across the board, bringing back businesses, stopping the progressive income tax, and funding police so neighborhoods can be safe.

Due to an unfolding federal investigation, should Michael Madigan remain in his positions in state government? Which ones? Why or why not?

Madigan should resign; but, if evidence determines that a crime was committed, he should be held accountable and indicted like anyone else. For far too long, politicians believe they are above the law, like the Clintons and so many others. The Chicago and Illinois Swamp has been crime ridden for decades. It is time they are all held accountable for their actions.

What is one ethics reform proposal you think would make a difference to keep elected officials more accountable and transparent?

After politicians serve their term as legislative officials in Illinois, they are banned for life from being lobbyists in Illinois. Also, after their term, they are not allowed to own more than 20% of companies that have government contracts.

Please evaluate the job Gov. J.B. Priztker has done managing the coronavirus pandemic. What concerns do you have? What advice would you give him?

I think he handled this very poorly by closing down businesses, churches, and schools in every county. Like other blue state governors in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey, and Virginia, Governor Pritzker, failed on his handling of nursing homes. President Trump built the hospital at the McCormick Place and it was not even utilized. Vulnerable patients, with Covid were being sent back into nursing homes from hospitals which infected very compromised individuals with comorbidities. Pritzker closed down places of worship, which violates our first amendment rights, but enabled rioters to loot, attack police officers, and destroy property. He had no response to these horrific acts. The shutdown of businesses destroyed the state’s economy, which may never resurrect due to the horrible policies of the super majority of Democrats in the state House and Senate.

I would tell him to resign immediately as he is clearly unqualified to handle the duties of a governor.

Illinois continues down the path of unfunded pension liabilities with no easy solutions in sight. What should Illinois lawmakers do about it?

We need new revenue streams. We have a responsibility as a state to meet our pension obligations. One of the reasons why I was a chief co-sponsor on the recreational cannabis law in addition to working towards an equitable bill is that the bill would also generate tax revenue that would help with some major issues in the state. I also supported other pieces of legislation like the gaming/sports betting bill as another revenue generator. I firmly believe it is time for millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share, and that money coming from revenue streams like a graduated income tax should go to helping to solve the problem. Spending cuts especially to programs that help under resourced communities, children, youth or retirees are not the answer. That will have a negative ripple effect. We have to get creative and we have to get honest about what the world we want to live in looks like and start making more of these revenue streams into reality.

Voters will decide in November whether to change the Constitution from a flat income tax to a graduated tax. Do you support this idea AND do you believe middle class taxpayers can be protected from future hikes? How so?

I have been a supporter of a graduated income tax for years even prior to joining the General Assembly. In the House, I was a Co-Sponsor of SJRCA 1 and that is because I do not believe that the burden should continue to fall on working and middle class families. It is not fair that working and middle-class families continue to bear the brunt of the burden for taxes in Illinois. Families across the state and in my district have to decide whether to put away funds for retirement, send their kids to college, take care of aging parents, pay their mortgage or property taxes, or pay for medical bills or expensive prescription drugs. It is time for millionaires and billionaires to stop taking advantage and start paying their fair share.

Tell us what you hear most from constituents. What is their top priority of lawmakers in Springfield?

Since March the #1 issue I have heard most from constituents is the IDES/Unemployment system in the state. My team and I have spent countless hours working to get every case that comes our way in front of the staff at IDES so that people can get their benefits and have one less thing to worry about during this pandemic. I do not believe there is ever going to be just one priority for lawmakers because this pandemic has impacted almost every aspect of our lives. Dealing with the current effects and aftermath of COVID is going to have to be one of many of our top priorities as lawmakers. COVID has impacted jobs, small business, education, higher education, food accessibility, housing, and other social needs. Everything has been impacted and we have to focus on helping people in as many ways as possible.

What is, or would be, your top two priorities if elected?

I intend to continue bringing policy solutions, programs, and services that bring greater economic, educational, workforce, and health opportunities to the diverse communities I represent. I understand we cannot address access to quality and affordable health care and education without addressing job creation and housing stability. It is also important for me to provide holistic policy solutions to address gun violence and police brutality that include mental health support and cultural bias training. As someone who grew up just blocks from one of the leading economic corridors in Chicago, I value the role small-businesses play for economic development of families and neighborhoods. That is why I plan to push for additional programs and assistance to small-businesses as well as strengthening the opportunities of minority and women-owned businesses. Moreover, as a former immigration organizer and daughter of immigrants, my commitment to advance legislation to protect mixed-status families and to limit immigration enforcement will continue to be a top priority. Overall, my legislative priorities are largely influenced by issues that impact working and middle class families in the district as well as the organizations, schools, and educators that work day after day to improve the lives of our families and children.

What can be done in your district to keep residents and businesses from leaving Illinois?

From Southwest Chicago to Suburban Cook, access to economic opportunities and quality services is essential to retain families and businesses. I represent a working-class, thriving district that thousands of residents call home because it fulfills core values and priorities that matter to them - and me. My constituents know that year after year I will fight to increase workforce options, secure youth development, support quality schools and protect affordable housing. Although, we’ve taken a big hit due to COVID -- during and after the pandemic one central factor to retain families is to expand the opportunity for residents to get back on their feet through good paying, stable jobs. Jobs alone are not enough, we need to make sure single-parent households, students, and families are able to afford accessible housing. Like many states, our housing opportunity is directly linked to our educational options. If we are serious about retaining families across all socio-economic backgrounds we must invest in our entire educational pipeline -- from birth to college! Families and individuals should not have to choose between going into debt or leaving their home state to have better outcomes. Our retention plan cannot ignore small businesses; they are the lifeblood of our communities and provide thousands of jobs while contributing to the overall economic development of our neighborhoods. To retain the diverse families in our state, we must strike a balance by investing into the sectors that drive our economy and also make a difference in the lives of our families and children.

Due to an unfolding federal investigation, should Michael Madigan remain in his positions in state government? Which ones? Why or why not?

I think it is important to note that everyone has the right to due process and at this time no charges have been filed. Since I am a member of the State Senate, I vote on the Senate President and do not have a vote on the Speakership of the House. The House has begun their own investigation of the matter and House members will be able to take action based on their own conclusions.

What is one ethics reform proposal you think would make a difference to keep elected officials more accountable and transparent?

There is a lot of work that needs to be done on ethics reform. I believe that closing the loopholes and having a clear definition on who is a lobbyist, what constitutes lobbying and a clear definition on conflicts of interest for those in public office is necessary in order to minimize the threat of corruption and the misuse of our public offices for personal gain. Enhancing the penalties of those in public office who commit crimes and use their offices for personal gain is paramount. I am also saying this as someone who was appointed to replace a former legislator that used his position for personal gain and betrayed the public trust. I take this topic very seriously and am looking forward to working with my colleagues in the State Senate to address ethics reform as a whole.

Please evaluate the job Gov. J.B. Priztker has done managing the coronavirus pandemic. What concerns do you have? What advice would you give him?

My district encompasses 4 out of the top 5 highest COVID positive zip codes in the state, and it is a distinction that breaks my heart. Even before the data confirmed this trend I was working closely with the Governor and his team to address the dynamics of the pandemic in my district by securing testing centers, support, and resources to communities in need. I have been sounding the alarm because I represent parts of the Southwest side of the city of Chicago and suburbs that have a high concentration of service workers, people who work in hospitals, hotels, cleaning crews, grocery stores, etc. A large portion of these workers are essential and tend to be minimum wage earners who live in multigenerational households that cannot do their jobs from home. While there is always more work to do, the Governor and his team have led nationally by working hard to get our numbers down, to keep everyone safe and to support the communities hardest hit by the pandemic. This is not an easy task because this pandemic is unpredictable and there is so much devastation, but I am committed to working with and holding the Governor and his team accountable to continuing to serve our district.

Illinois continues down the path of unfunded pension liabilities with no easy solutions in sight. What should Illinois lawmakers do about it?

The pension issue is in crisis mode and needs to be addressed immediately. We need to protect those individuals that are in retirement and about to retire. We need to review admin costs and look at cost cutting tactics to preserve and grow the pension fund.

Voters will decide in November whether to change the Constitution from a flat income tax to a graduated tax. Do you support this idea AND do you believe middle class taxpayers can be protected from future hikes? How so?

I vote NO. The current legislation does not offer any specific direction on who will be affected and limitations for tax hikes, so there is no protection for middle class or retirees, etc.

Tell us what you hear most from constituents. What is their top priority of lawmakers in Springfield?

Safe communities and safe schools that offer more options for children. Many of my neighbors have moved from Little Village/Pilsen area to Clearing/Garfield Ridge, I overwhelmingly heard about need for Spanish speaking services and Spanish curriculum that is wanted and needed in more of our schools, as well job security and options for our young adults.

What is, or would be, your top two priorities if elected?

Economic Development needs to be supported by legislation that promotes growth for small and large business. When we develop legislation that is business friendly, we generate more taxes, jobs, and resources. Maintaining the rights and funding the resources for our most vulnerable persons: persons with disabilities, LGBTQ, immigrants, seniors, children in need, etc.

What can be done in your district to keep residents and businesses from leaving Illinois?

Much can be done to help residents and businesses, stop raising taxes and stop threatening that this is the only way to “fix” the problem! Illinois Government must cut spending- administration costs can be cut without attacking resources.

Due to an unfolding federal investigation, should Michael Madigan remain in his positions in state government? Which ones? Why or why not?

In a show of good faith, he should step down as Speaker of the House during the investigation.

What is one ethics reform proposal you think would make a difference to keep elected officials more accountable and transparent?

There should be term limits for serving on committees as well as lobbyist interactions should be reviewed.

Please evaluate the job Gov. J.B. Priztker has done managing the coronavirus pandemic. What concerns do you have? What advice would you give him?

I think Pritzker did a good job mandating masks to be worn if you cannot maintain social distancing. However, I think allowing big box stores to stay open and not small businesses selling the same merchandise is ridiculous. I think it was a good idea to move restaurants to a curb side or a delivery system, but no resources or direction was given in a timely manner to help effectively implement this need. Illinois unemployment offices were overwhelmed and ill equipped to help the number of people who needed to go on unemployment. I think our most vulnerable persons were most negatively impacted by the rules put in place, and there concerns are still not being addressed. Advocates for seniors have expressed that the social aspect was never addressed and has created a faster decline in overall health for seniors. Very similar concerns have been expressed for those with mental illnesses. Covid testing needs to accessible in all communities, in my area in particular, there has not been enough options.

Illinois continues down the path of unfunded pension liabilities with no easy solutions in sight. What should Illinois lawmakers do about it?

Illinois has anywhere from $137 billion to $250 billion, depending upon the rating agency, in unfunded pension liability. While we must keep our promises to those who are near retirement age, we must also change our defined benefit system to a defined contribution system and ensure that double and triple dipping is ended. This will require an amendment to the Illinois Constitution to repeal the pension protection clause. It is the only way we can begin to pull our state back from the brink of financial insolvency.

Voters will decide in November whether to change the Constitution from a flat income tax to a graduated tax. Do you support this idea AND do you believe middle class taxpayers can be protected from future hikes? How so?

No, I do not support this idea although I do support that the voters have a right to choose. The “fair tax” is anything but “fair” and gives the legislature a blank check to raise taxes on families who are already leaving Illinois in record numbers. Illinois doesn’t have a revenue problem. Illinois has a spending problem.

I will be voting NO on this so-called Progressive tax. It will aggressively attack our wallets and hurt our economy. Even the Democrat State Treasurer said that it opens the door to the ability to tax retirement income, which is a terrible idea that I strongly oppose. It is a double tax on our seniors who cannot afford it and don’t deserve it.

A flat tax is equally applied to everyone. That is fair. By heavily taxing those who are successful, the result is chasing even more taxpayers, businesses, and job creators out of Illinois.

And that will hurt the people who need good jobs and benefits to support their families.

Tell us what you hear most from constituents. What is their top priority of lawmakers in Springfield?

Taxes (and corruption, which is a stealth tax). I hear it over and over. Illinois has one of the highest overall tax rates in the country and consequently one of the highest outmigration rates. One-party supermajority control has led to crippling taxes and over-regulation.

What is, or would be, your top two priorities if elected?

Ethics Reform: In light of recent developments where ComEd admitted to bribing “Public Official A”, who is the “Speaker of the House of Representatives”, ethics reform is beyond overdue. Term limits could remedy this; eight years in any particular office is a good place to start. Mike Madigan has been in power a record 35 years, and he’s been in office since 1971 - two years before I was even born. My opponent also took $1.44 M in campaign cash from committees controlled by him, and has refused to call for his resignation, claiming she is “not prepared to talk about it”. The scandal cost YOU, the taxpayer, with higher electric rates and no-show jobs awarded to Democrat party workers. The cost to taxpayers of corruption must be answered with swifter Justice and longer sentences.

Fair maps where nonpartisan committees draw districts and voters choose their politicians, not the other way around, is best for our representative republic.

Legislators shouldn’t be able to lobby their colleagues in areas where they have a conflict of interest.

Finally, the Speaker of the House should not also serve as his state party’s Chairman.

Reduce Taxes: Illinois has > 20 new taxes since last summer that the working poor and middle-class will shoulder. Making Illinois business and family-friendly by reducing the tax burden will bring jobs and growth to our economy and doing so will result in increased revenue since more businesses and families will be able to afford to live here.

What can be done in your district to keep residents and businesses from leaving Illinois?

Reduce taxes. It’s difficult to retain, let alone attract new residents, when Illinois has upwards of 20 new taxes since last summer that the working poor and middle-class will shoulder. Making Illinois business and family-friendly by reducing the tax burden and decreasing onerous regulation will bring jobs and growth to our economy and doing so will result in increased revenue since more businesses and families will be able to afford to live here.

Due to an unfolding federal investigation, should Michael Madigan remain in his positions in state government? Which ones? Why or why not?

Madigan should resign. And my Democrat opponent should call for his resignation. Federal prosecutors have implicated Speaker Madigan in abusing his power to coerce ComEd, the largest electric utility in Illinois, to hire his associates for no-work patronage jobs. Corruption is a stealth tax on the people of Illinois. My opponent, Karina Villa, has accepted over $1.44 Million from Speaker Madigan and his morally bankrupt political machine. If she wants to stand truthfully and openly before the people of Illinois to ask for their vote, she needs to call on her Speaker to resign and donate every red cent of the tainted money that Mike Madigan gave her to a worthy cause.

What is one ethics reform proposal you think would make a difference to keep elected officials more accountable and transparent?

See also answer to question on my top priorities. My top ethics reform proposal would be to discontinue the practice of allowing the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives to also serve as his State’s Party Chairman.

Please evaluate the job Gov. J.B. Priztker has done managing the coronavirus pandemic. What concerns do you have? What advice would you give him?

Without consulting the people’s legislature and giving taxpayers a voice in these decisions via local representation, Governor Pritzker has failed to be a consensus-building Leader. He has implemented rules by Executive Order that defy common sense and are not fairly applied across the board. Why could a large crowd converge on Home Depot but only 50 people attend a church service? Why could a family of four drive to the local lake, but only two of them get in the same boat? Why could you buy flowers from a crowded Wal-Mart, but your local florist is shuttered closed? The people’s legislature should have had a say from the start.

Illinois continues down the path of unfunded pension liabilities with no easy solutions in sight. What should Illinois lawmakers do about it?

To create a meaningful, comprehensive, and realistic plan going forward, we must bring all parties to negotiate in good faith. This problem is bigger than any political ideology. As the Supreme Court has already made it clear we cannot diminish or reduce benefits, we must be thoughtful and explore all avenues to address this crisis. There is no quick and easy solution, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but we cannot kick the can down the road as has been done in the past. We need to consider, for example, no more pension holidays, or no more pension sweeteners for Springfield insiders. I know if we buckle down and work together we can reach a solution to save the state of Illinois. The Fair Tax will be vital to a permanent solution to this issue.

We must also recognize that the impact of COVID-19 has created an even greater burden on the state’s resources. I sincerely hope that the federal government will recognize that all states will need funding to help offset the financial costs associated with managing the pandemic.

Voters will decide in November whether to change the Constitution from a flat income tax to a graduated tax. Do you support this idea AND do you believe middle class taxpayers can be protected from future hikes? How so?

I support the proposed graduated income tax. I believe the measure would make our tax system more fair for all Illinoisans, allowing higher incomes to be taxed at higher rates and lower incomes to be taxed at lower rates. The majority of states and the federal government use this system, but our constitution currently prohibits it. Unless a small business owner makes more than $250,000 a year in profits their taxes won’t increase. This means that the overwhelming majority of small businesses will not see an income tax increase, which is critical especially if they are struggling from the impacts of the coronavirus crisis. More than $9 out of $10 the state spends is on education, healthcare, human services and public safety. The money from the fair tax will go toward funding those critical services and 97% of the filers in Kane County will not see an increase because they make under $250,000 a year.

Tell us what you hear most from constituents. What is their top priority of lawmakers in Springfield?

The primary issues in my house district when I first ran were property taxes, education funding and affordable healthcare. From a baseline perspective, that hasn’t changed but the economic reality of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic has forced unanticipated priority adjustments. My work with the manufacturing facilities in my district regarding essential worker safety is an example of an unexpected adjustment. It is also imperative that we must work diligently to protect our students, teachers and staff as we reopen schools, and do what we can to support our small businesses. The 2020 census success will be critical in obtaining the federal funding we will need to support these efforts.

What is, or would be, your top two priorities if elected?

We need more work on mental health initiatives including reducing the stigma of seeking help for opioid addictions and dealing with stress related issues for both adults and children particularly related to this coronavirus pandemic. I will continue to work to provide real property tax relief. I am especially proud to have been able to work on a bipartisan basis to pass legislation on police and fire pension reform, and will continue to look for opportunities to do so.

What can be done in your district to keep residents and businesses from leaving Illinois?

We must ask ourselves what the economy looks like in the post COVID-19 pandemic world. Industries that were stressed before the pandemic will continue to face pressures from a consumer base whose habits have changed. The General Assembly needs to invest in broadband expansion, expand and educate those interested in learning a trade, and foster an environment to help small businesses. Affordability is a key driver in keeping residents in Illinois, specifically property taxes. The state must continue to increase education funding and as state investment in education increases, there should be a corresponding decrease in the tax levy from school districts. If voters accept the Fair Tax, which I believe they will, it will allow the state to better fund education and create a more fair and affordable Illinois.

Due to an unfolding federal investigation, should Michael Madigan remain in his positions in state government? Which ones? Why or why not?

We all should have confidence in our leaders to conduct themselves ethically in all cases. Because that is not always the reality, I supported and became co-sponsor in the Illinois House for the ethics reform measure to amend the Lobbyist Registration Act (SB 1639). When public trust has been damaged by even the perception of impropriety at any level of government it is something that needs to be dealt with seriously. In addition to any reforms that might be enacted, I believe how we, as legislators, conduct ourselves in the future will be the main evidence that the citizens need to build back that trust in government.

What is one ethics reform proposal you think would make a difference to keep elected officials more accountable and transparent?

I believe that members of the General Assembly should not be allowed to lobby other levels of government. I also believe that once a lawmaker has left office, there should be a time period where they should not be allowed to register as a lobbyist. Finally, we have to end the practice of legislators retiring on Friday and lobbying on Monday. There must be clear rules and timeframes on a revolving door policy for legislators to ensure that the public interest is protected.

This does however, point out the need to continue to strengthen lobbying reporting laws. As an example, we should look at trying to prevent and close any loopholes that might allow someone to get hired as a “consultant” but then actually do lobbying work for that firm or company. I supported and became a co-sponsor in the House for SB1639. One thing the bill does is to require the Secretary of State to create a publicly accessible and searchable database bringing together disclosures by registered lobbyists, contributions by registered lobbyists, and statements of economic interests required to be filed by State officials and employees.

Please evaluate the job Gov. J.B. Priztker has done managing the coronavirus pandemic. What concerns do you have? What advice would you give him?

I believe that a critical component of his response was the clear and consistent communication to the public. The daily briefings let the people of Illinois know what the state was doing, what they were expected to do, and how the governor was dealing with the response from the federal government. IDES is one area where challenges could have been addressed more effectively. Additional resources, more transparency and quicker responses would have made a difference in how the public perceived the state government handling of the unemployment issues. Reopening of schools is another area where we potentially need more guidance and direction from the state. Local school district control is obviously critical, but a clearer rollout plan is vital at this point.

Illinois continues down the path of unfunded pension liabilities with no easy solutions in sight. What should Illinois lawmakers do about it?

Lawmakers should begin by defunding their own pension system and allocating those funds to help alleviate the unfunded pension liability problem they created. It might not be much, but it would be a symbolic gesture to show that they care about resolving the issue. We must put an end to the lavish pensions that are paid to people who do not need such a wealthy pension payment. We ought to go to a 401k-style system that cannot be stolen from by corrupt legislators. We also cannot chip away at this debt with a decreasing tax base. Illinois must take an aggressive approach towards attracting people and businesses, or else we will see Illinois continuing to lose traction sliding down the fiscal hole. We need to give people a reason to stay and invest in Illinois. We also must reassure those who have earned their retirements that we are taking the necessary steps to protect them.

Voters will decide in November whether to change the Constitution from a flat income tax to a graduated tax. Do you support this idea AND do you believe middle class taxpayers can be protected from future hikes? How so?

I do not support the effort to abandon the principle of equality under the law and adopt a graduated income tax. It is political doublespeak for them to call it the “Fair Tax.” There is nothing fair about using mob rule to siphon as much wealth from whatever arbitrary standard that they establish. They also cannot guarantee that the rates they have proposed now will remain that way for the foreseeable future. As more and more people and businesses leave this State, those who have the means to leave will be the first to take the opportunity, especially if they find themselves the target of the State’s insatiable appetite for taxes and spending. The General Assembly recently raised the flat income tax, and now this initiative proves that it was not enough to feed the beast that they have grown for the last four decades.

Tell us what you hear most from constituents. What is their top priority of lawmakers in Springfield?

The top issue in our district is and has long been property taxes. What is remarkable is how upset they are that Senator Bush failed to show up to 2/3 of Governor Pritzker’s Property Tax Relief Task Force meetings. The record shows that she contributed nothing of value to the project. The people of the 31st district here in Lake County are hard-working people who will gladly pay their fair share, but what has happened to their monthly mortgage payments as the property taxes have skyrocketed during Senator Bush’s tenure in office is unforgivable. Her unwillingness to show up to those meetings and even respond to questions about why both Senator Bush and State Rep. Joyce Mason were both absent from the same meetings shows that they are unwilling to listen to the constituents and take action on the number one priority.

What is, or would be, your top two priorities if elected?

Our district wants someone who will fight to lower our property taxes, which I intend to do when I am elected. Our schools have not received adequate funding from the State, as the IL Constitution requires, and thus they are turning to property tax levies to secure the rest of the funding that they need. We need Senators who are serious about getting the State’s priorities to stop the tax base from withering away.

We also must pursue government reforms to dramatically streamline its units and its services to meet its rising pension and debt obligations. We need to elect leaders who understand the direness of the situation. Many of us were born here in Illinois as the State began its decline, but that does not mean that it has to be our future. We should not settle for failure. Illinois must overcome its corrupt past, learn from those mistakes, and strive never to see them repeated.

What can be done in your district to keep residents and businesses from leaving Illinois?

The 31st district is a border district, which is why it is baffling that Senator Bush didn’t moderate her positions to reflect that. When she voted for the gasoline tax increase, she harmed local gas stations as so many from our area now head across the state line to buy significantly cheaper fuel. They also buy their groceries up there and take advantage of a much more welcoming environment than the overtaxed Illinois consumer. We need to listen to the people who are fleeing Illinois. Listen to their families' distress that the State is forcing them apart because the cost of living is too high here. Listen to the business owners who cannot keep up with the onslaught of new taxes, fees, fines, rules, regulations, and laws imposed on them and are continually changing. We need to listen to the people who now have less to spend on their families because Senator Bush thought the State needed more money from them when they buy their annual vehicle registration. We cannot keep electing representatives who refuse to listen, refuse to respond, refuse to show up, and refuse to change their ways. We need to unshackle ourselves from the people who are shackled to the Madigan machine and usher in a new era of leadership that is not rusted from years wallowing in Springfield’s swamp.

Due to an unfolding federal investigation, should Michael Madigan remain in his positions in state government? Which ones? Why or why not?

No. Mike Madigan is the root of most of our troubles with corruption, mismanagement, and greed that has plagued Illinois under his record-breaking tenure as the longest-serving legislative leader in our State and our Nation’s history. Not only should he be forced to resign in shame from his seat as Speaker of the House for the damage that he has caused to our State and its reputation on several levels, but he should also be impeached and removed from office by unanimous consent. I am not a Democrat, though, so I don’t think it is appropriate for me to comment on who they choose to be their party leader. If that is the type of leadership that they want to be defined by, then that is their prerogative. I am much less concerned about the damage that he does to the IL Democratic Party than I am about the damage he has caused to our State.

What is one ethics reform proposal you think would make a difference to keep elected officials more accountable and transparent?

Term limits on the General Assembly. Not just term limits on chairmanships of committees. We need to allow for a representative government to flourish once again. If the General Assembly knew that their time was limited in Springfield, I believe that more of them would work for the State’s betterment than they would for the advancement of their reelection chances. Three terms each in the House and the Senate is more than enough time to accomplish one’s policy goals and would force the lobbyists to work even harder to establish new relationships with new legislators every time they rotated out.

Please evaluate the job Gov. J.B. Priztker has done managing the coronavirus pandemic. What concerns do you have? What advice would you give him?

This pandemic was thrust upon all of us by surprise. I do not envy anyone in an executive position of power during crises, such as these. The job requires someone to assume command during those times of crisis and lead by example, and always strive to do the right thing. While I cannot say that Governor Pritzker’s motives were impure, I will say that he arbitrarily chose to exercise his emergency powers indefinitely until a co-equal branch could step in. The General Assembly refused to convene for more than three days, during which they delegated much of their legislative authority over to the Pritzker Administration to do their work for them. Governor Pritzker failed to exercise his power to call the General Assembly into order in Springfield. Of all the powers that he did wield, he ignored one that could have avoided many headaches for himself and his administration. By prolonging his emergency disaster declarations without legislative approval, Governor Pritzker assumed powers that he arguably did not have and promulgated rules that made little sense to the science or the common sense. Given the abnormal and absurd nature of Governor Pritzker’s orders, I cannot even grade him at a "C" average. Yet I also credit him with leading when the General Assembly was hiding. Therefore, I would give him a grade of “D.”

Illinois continues down the path of unfunded pension liabilities with no easy solutions in sight. What should Illinois lawmakers do about it?

If we are going to address our unfunded pension liabilities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will need a multi-pronged approach – no one policy, revenue generator or group of cuts will solve our fiscal problems.

First, I strongly believe we need to look into reamortizing our pension debt to create a fairer and more responsible repayment plan. Our position at the top of the so-called “pension ramp” is untenable in this fiscal environment. Then, we must dedicate a percentage of state revenues to continue paying off our pension debt instead of kicking the can down the road as had been done for so many years in Illinois. Finally, we must apply the pension consolidation model adopted by downstate Illinois to a great deal more of our pension systems to help make our payments on time.

Voters will decide in November whether to change the Constitution from a flat income tax to a graduated tax. Do you support this idea AND do you believe middle class taxpayers can be protected from future hikes? How so?

I do, because it’s no longer “intent” – the rate structures are written into a law passed by the legislature (Public Act 101-0008). This law goes into immediate effect upon the passage of the Fair Tax constitutional amendment.

Based on the six tax brackets and corresponding rate structures in PA 101-0008, 97% of Illinoisans will see a reduction in their income taxes.

Tell us what you hear most from constituents. What is their top priority of lawmakers in Springfield?

There are two requests I get most from my constituents – to do what I can to help solve the COVID-19 pandemic, and to continue fighting for real ethics reform in Springfield.

While Governor Pritzker clearly plays the lead role in the COVID-19 response effort, the General Assembly has played an important role in passing budgets with robust support for pandemic response, sharing vital public health information, helping constituents get the support they need and working to improve aspects of the pandemic response. All these actions have contributed to Illinois' overall success combating COVID-19, and during Veto Session legislators will need to reconvene and examine what else we can do to help combat the pandemic during what will likely be a difficult winter.

I have doggedly pursued ethics reform throughout my career, and will highlight my latest effort – joining with a group of 15 other legislators to propose a package of nine reforms that the Joint Commission on Ethics must take up in Veto Session. These reforms are:

Prohibiting legislator-lobbyists

Stopping the legislator-lobbyist revolving-door, and including upper level staff in that prohibition

Better defining who is a lobbyist

Fuller disclosure of outside income

Initiating an official censure

Strengthening the Legislative IG

Ending the legislative staff exemption from the Human Rights Act

Term-limits for leaders

Removal of leaders and committee chairs if indicted

What is, or would be, your top two priorities if elected?

The same as above – combating the COVID-19 crisis (from both a public health and economic security standpoint) and passing real ethics reform.

What can be done in your district to keep residents and businesses from leaving Illinois?

Illinois is now more competitive with other states because of the EDGE credit reform bill I sponsored. Prior to EDGE reform, Illinois was not allowed to provide incentives to businesses looking to expand – which put us at a significant competitive disadvantage with bordering states. In that vein, we must continue to modernize how we think about business growth and retention in Illinois. For example, Lake County is home to a very large number of pharmaceutical businesses, but we continue to allow our R&D incentives to sunset – putting us at a significant disadvantage with the northeastern United States. We must continue these incentive programs because Illinois cannot afford to fall behind other states when competing for these types of businesses.

Maintaining Illinois' edge in transportation infrastructure is also vital. Businesses are extremely concerned with shipping and transportation logistics, as well as providing a good quality of life for their employees. That means providing better infrastructure to move goods and people. This is, in part, why the State of Illinois made such a significant capital investment in our transportation infrastructure last year.

Finally, I can tell you from experience that a business is much more likely to locate in a community when it sees a coordinated attraction or retention effort from state and local partners. We have been very successful in Lake County when we have coordinated. We must learn from our mistakes and work even harder to come together as state and local partners when we court businesses.

Due to an unfolding federal investigation, should Michael Madigan remain in his positions in state government? Which ones? Why or why not?

My comments and position on Speaker Madigan are a matter of public record. More importantly, if the ethics reforms I am championing are enacted, when any issues arise related to someone’s indictment or potential criminal conduct a set of rules will already be in place to ensure that the issue is dealt with swiftly and we assure the public that their government continues to function effectively.

What is one ethics reform proposal you think would make a difference to keep elected officials more accountable and transparent?

As mentioned before, I am championing a package of ethics reforms supported by a group of 15 legislators. They include:

Prohibiting legislator-lobbyists

Stopping the legislator-lobbyist revolving-door, and including upper level staff in that prohibition

Better defining who is a lobbyist

Fuller disclosure of outside income

Initiating an official censure

Strengthening the Legislative IG

Ending the legislative staff exemption from the Human Rights Act

Term-limits for leaders

Removal of leaders and committee chairs if indicted

Please evaluate the job Gov. J.B. Priztker has done managing the coronavirus pandemic. What concerns do you have? What advice would you give him?

Governor Pritzker has done an excellent job managing the COVID-19 pandemic. My number one concern when all this began was that he would follow the science, listen to public health experts, and avoid political considerations. Thankfully, that is exactly what the Governor did. He made sure to surround himself with public health experts who knew how best to protect Illinoisans and kept politics out of his response. I would tell him to keep doing what he has been doing.

Illinois continues down the path of unfunded pension liabilities with no easy solutions in sight. What should Illinois lawmakers do about it?

The lawmakers should place a referendum on the ballot that would support a change in our state constitution and allow for changing the pension benefits. The Illinois Supreme Court rulings have consistently determined that any change would violate the constitution.

The condition of the pension funding necessitates options including changing the benefits by pegging the year over year increase to the rate of inflation and capping it based on the funding levels. The funds should also be managed more aggressively with an eye toward higher returns.

Voters will decide in November whether to change the Constitution from a flat income tax to a graduated tax. Do you support this idea AND do you believe middle class taxpayers can be protected from future hikes? How so?

I am opposed to the so-called “Fair Tax”. Any change that moves our tax from a flat to graduated tax will expose every taxpayer in Illinois to the possibility that the threshold for higher taxes will be lowered. Illinois taxation has caused a massive flight of people and businesses to lower tax states. I also dislike the class warfare marketing of this change to our tax system.

Tell us what you hear most from constituents. What is their top priority of lawmakers in Springfield?

The people I talk to are concerned about taxes and law and order. All of these issues come up in any single conversation.

While many people haven’t even heard of the “Fair Tax” proposal that will be on the ballot they are generally opposed to tax hikes even those directed at the wealthy. People believe that the politicians in Springfield have a spending problem.

The corruption in Springfield is epitomized by the defiance of the Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan. There are not enough calls for his resignation from his own party members including my opponent.

The protests and rioting in our cities are a major concern of voters here in the Rockford area. Rockford has had a sustained protest that has sought to disrupt businesses and the lives of people largely in the downtown area. People are concerned about the lawlessness.

What is, or would be, your top two priorities if elected?

My top priority would be ethics reform legislation that would rein in the politicians. I will also fight hard against any tax increases and at the same time I would work to find budget cuts and privatization of state services. Ironically I think that there will be many lessons learned and a trove of information found after the pandemic subsides.

What can be done in your district to keep residents and businesses from leaving Illinois?

People and businesses in Illinois need to be reassured that there are solutions down the road to the budget issues we face. The voice of taxpayers and business owners must be heard. People are not seeing any light at the end of the tunnel and anyone who can is now fleeing Illinois.

Our state has been dominated by one party for well over a decade either by veto proof majorities in the legislature or complete dominance such as we have now. Those members of the party in power need to speak up or otherwise demonstrate a willingness to address the issues or the confidence of Illinoisans will completely erode.

Due to an unfolding federal investigation, should Michael Madigan remain in his positions in state government? Which ones? Why or why not?

Speaker Michael Madigan should resign and every Democrat in the Illinois General Assembly should support that. Madigan has remained obstinate because only a handful of Democrats have shown the guts to ask him to resign. With confidence in government at an all time low; Madigan is yet another example of why people have lost faith in our system.

Madigan should resign as Speaker, as a member of the Illinois House, and his Chairmanship of the Democrat Party.

What is one ethics reform proposal you think would make a difference to keep elected officials more accountable and transparent?

The legislature should immediately ban representatives and senators from ever lobbying the General Assembly. It would take much of the incentive out of being a legislator. Further, they should not allow health care benefits or pension benefits for members of the legislature. These jobs were meant to be part time positions filled with “citizen legislators” and now they have become a ruling class. The need for term limits has never been greater.

Please evaluate the job Gov. J.B. Priztker has done managing the coronavirus pandemic. What concerns do you have? What advice would you give him?

The Covid lockdown has many people concerned about the handling of the disease and the idea that the “cure” is worse than the disease. Many people have family and friends whose jobs and businesses have been destroyed by what they feel is a draconian response. Their patience is wearing thin.

I also believe that people are weary of the hypocrisy that many elected officials have shown. Governor Pritzker traveling to Wisconsin and his family traveling to Florida seemed contrary to the rhetoric that has been used. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and now US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have lectured people about how bad it is to violate the rules but they can get their hair done.

Government on every level should work harder to figure out how businesses can open safely rather than be goal tenders.

Finally, the importance of a second opinion when making important health decisions cannot be understated. More than one viewpoint is vital to good decision making affecting so many people of our state. The Legislature should have been in session sooner to provide input to policies from the viewpoint of the people they represent.

Illinois continues down the path of unfunded pension liabilities with no easy solutions in sight. What should Illinois lawmakers do about it?

Amend the constitution so that not yet earned pension benefits can be reduced to a level that is sustainable and affordable (IPI). Align responsibility for paying new pension benefits with accountability for negotiating compensation for schools and university.

Voters will decide in November whether to change the Constitution from a flat income tax to a graduated tax. Do you support this idea AND do you believe middle class taxpayers can be protected from future hikes? How so?

I do not support the graduate tax. I believe its another failed attempt to fleece the people of Illinois. Springfield must reduce the spending and the corruption before it gets another dime.

Tell us what you hear most from constituents. What is their top priority of lawmakers in Springfield?

Before COVID 19 people were concerned about high tax rates, especially property taxes. They weren’t happy with the increase in the gas tax or the license fee. Since COVID, it’s the heath of the economy and jobs. They want to return to normal.

What is, or would be, your top two priorities if elected?

I believe that Illinois needs to free itself from the grasp of the corruption that has keep her from being the great state Illinois should be. So term limits for leadership positions. Second, Education reform that addresses the funding problem and the lack of good education options at k-12. In other words school choice.

What can be done in your district to keep residents and businesses from leaving Illinois?

End the corruption tax. Then we can reduce sending and fund our pension system thereby reducing the tax burden.

Due to an unfolding federal investigation, should Michael Madigan remain in his positions in state government? Which ones? Why or why not?

Mike needs to go from all of his positions. He is one of the main reasons Illinois is the third most corrupt state in the union. He is the reason th estate budget is in shambles. He is the ringleader of corruption and the most powerful main the state.

What is one ethics reform proposal you think would make a difference to keep elected officials more accountable and transparent?

Term limits. You can’t pass a law to make people honest. What you can do is make it impossible for them to remain in that position.

Please evaluate the job Gov. J.B. Priztker has done managing the coronavirus pandemic. What concerns do you have? What advice would you give him?

I will give the governor the benefit of the doubt. I believe he is trying to protect the people of Illinois. However, my concern is that he didn’t meet with the general assembly sooner than he did. The second thing is that he originally treated Illinois like one size fits all. And lastly, he should have given more authority to cities, towns, and villages to regulate openings or closings. Pritzker has sometimes acted like a dictator closing businesses when it wasn’t necessary. The objective was supposed to be flattening the curve not to prevent people from getting COVID but make it more manageable. We are to protect those who are the most vulnerable. We have focused on the wrong stats.

Illinois continues down the path of unfunded pension liabilities with no easy solutions in sight. What should Illinois lawmakers do about it?

The General Assembly took positive steps to creating new revenue streams like legalizing cannabis and expanding gaming during the most recent session and those steps will help us chip away at our backlog of bills and allow us to work on fulfilling our pension liability; however, there is no easy answer for addressing a problem born out of years and years of under funding the system. To address this problem in the long term we must focus on growing the economy and investing in higher education to ensure we have a trained workforce that ensures companies stay and invest in Illinois.

Voters will decide in November whether to change the Constitution from a flat income tax to a graduated tax. Do you support this idea AND do you believe middle class taxpayers can be protected from future hikes? How so?

Support - 97% of Illinois residents will pay the same or less in income tax under this proposal. Illinois and this country are experiencing some of the largest divides between upper and middle class in history. This proposal narrows that gap. Other states and the federal government use a graduated rate, so we are not reinventing the wheel here. I would support legislation that makes it more difficult for the general assembly to change income tax rates. I will support legislation that benefits middle-class families.

Tell us what you hear most from constituents. What is their top priority of lawmakers in Springfield?

Lowering property taxes.

What is, or would be, your top two priorities if elected?

Property Tax Relief to middle class families and job training programs.

What can be done in your district to keep residents and businesses from leaving Illinois?

We must prioritize addressing the funding formula for public schools. We must also work with local governments to find ways to streamline and consolidate services to reduce the tax burden.

Due to an unfolding federal investigation, should Michael Madigan remain in his positions in state government? Which ones? Why or why not?

There is no doubt ethics reform is needed and we as elected officials need to do everything we can to restore the trust of our constituents. The claims against Speaker Madigan are disturbing and if they are substantiated, he should resign.

What is one ethics reform proposal you think would make a difference to keep elected officials more accountable and transparent?

We need to end the practice of legislators retiring on Friday and lobbying on Monday.

Please evaluate the job Gov. J.B. Priztker has done managing the coronavirus pandemic. What concerns do you have? What advice would you give him?

Early on in the pandemic Gov. Pritzker showed great leadership. Decisive action prevented regional hospitals from being overrun. Future mitigation efforts must be consistent throughout the state, take local stakeholder input into account and address the economic impact they may have.

Illinois continues down the path of unfunded pension liabilities with no easy solutions in sight. What should Illinois lawmakers do about it?

Reduce spending; reorganize government units to reduce outlays that can then be used to prioritize pensions.

Voters will decide in November whether to change the Constitution from a flat income tax to a graduated tax. Do you support this idea AND do you believe middle class taxpayers can be protected from future hikes? How so?

I absolutely do NOT support the idea of a graduated tax! Lawmakers have proven themselves to be untrustworthy when it comes to taking money from We the People. Everything I have read also indicates the legislature will likely raise the taxes on the middle and lower income classes after the progressive tax is implemented.

Tell us what you hear most from constituents. What is their top priority of lawmakers in Springfield?

1) reduce taxes and spending!; 2) eliminate corruption; 3) term limits; 4) support the police; 5) reopen the schools; 6) pro-self-defense

What is, or would be, your top two priorities if elected?

If I am elected, I will focus first on fixing taxes and spending by reducing both to a (national) median level per capita, and by making it unlawful for government workers to obligate the government beyond what their agency has on hand. Second, but just as important, I will fight to eliminate corruption by moving the Legislative Inspector General’s office to the Judiciary Branch, making it free from Legislative interference. I will also fight for 10-year term limits and stricter control/transparency for government contracts to ensure friends aren’t benefiting at the Public’s expense.

What can be done in your district to keep residents and businesses from leaving Illinois?

The answer in my district is the same across the board - reduce the crippling taxes and fees, like HJR0050 sponsored by my opponent, which would make I-80 a tollway all the way through Will County! We don’t need more taxes and fees - we need to reduce the burden on the average person to make Illinois affordable for our residents. Another specific problem is the property taxes affecting the residents here. My tax bill tripled when I moved from Stafford, VA to Elwood, IL! Many people are leaving Illinois because of the tax bill on their homes. We can fix that problem by making one body accountable for the tax level, instead of 10 like it is more my residence. Lastly, we need to make sure it’s easy for residents to open business here in Illinois. Burdensome, frivolous, and costly regulations hinder business here in Illinois and we are losing companies because of it.

Due to an unfolding federal investigation, should Michael Madigan remain in his positions in state government? Which ones? Why or why not?

Michael Madigan should have resigned from his position in the State House. He is clearly tied to the ComEd scandal and, while not yet convicted, has clearly lost his credibility to lead the House. At the very least, Madigan should be removed from all positions of leadership pending the investigation and subsequent trial. The House should impeach him if necessary.

What is one ethics reform proposal you think would make a difference to keep elected officials more accountable and transparent?

We need to remove the Legislative Inspector General from the General Assembly and put it in the Judiciary Branch. This way, the Legislative IG will be free to investigate allegations and to pursue disciplinary actions or prosecution without legislative interference.

Please evaluate the job Gov. J.B. Priztker has done managing the coronavirus pandemic. What concerns do you have? What advice would you give him?

I am not a fan of the way Governor Pritzker has handled this pandemic. He had 30 days within which to act as governor. After that time, his authority to act alone has expired. All subsequent executive orders regarding the pandemic are unconstitutional (even if the courts allow it). The governor should have call the legislature during the 30-day period to do its job regarding further actions after the 30-day period expired. This was his responsibility. The governor also played favorites with closing some retailers and not others. There was no clear logic to those that could or couldn’t open. Instead of closing Illinois, the governor should have put every effort into keeping the state functioning as normal with appropriate precautions. This did not happen, and businesses have permanently closed as a result.

Illinois continues down the path of unfunded pension liabilities with no easy solutions in sight. What should Illinois lawmakers do about it?

I firmly feel that we need to pay for the pensions that exist, but I am opposed to the Governors constant attempts to tax more and spend more. Illinois needs to become more fiscally responsible, the state has a budget shortfall of 7 billion dollars next year but the Democrats increased spending by 2 billion dollars. Illinois presently has 150 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, my opponent thinks taxing retirement accounts is the way to go to pay for pensions. I feel reducing spending on pork bills, and programs and finding alternative monies (including bonding out the pension liability and having a clean slate to budget going forward) is the best way to go.

Voters will decide in November whether to change the Constitution from a flat income tax to a graduated tax. Do you support this idea AND do you believe middle class taxpayers can be protected from future hikes? How so?

I am opposed to the Governors constant attempts to tax more and spend more. He has already raised gas taxes, license plate fees and J.B. has not been in office for two years yet. Now, he is pushing for a complete shift in the way we tax Illinois citizens; treating one citizen differently from another. It is un-American. Let’s not forget that the Democrat Treasure of Illinois has suggested that this would be a framework for Illinois to tax retirement income. Illinois cannot take much more of these tax increases. Vote no on the Graduate Tax!

Tell us what you hear most from constituents. What is their top priority of lawmakers in Springfield?

When walking and talking the number one thing that is coming up is public safety, and to not to allow for the defunding of the police. I firmly Back the Blue and always have. I was the first person, let alone candidate to hold a Pro-Police rally in June located in Plainfield, IL. I have also helped organize many across the state to show our law enforcement officers their jobs, mental health, and well being matters to everyone. I also stand firmly with peoples rights to protest at is a core American freedom, but what I do not do is stand for people rioting. The Governor and mayors need to have a firmer hand with stopping the looting and rioting here in Illinois, public safety is the first responsibility of any elected official.

What is, or would be, your top two priorities if elected?

1- Direct to classroom funding initiative.

2- Ethics Reform

What can be done in your district to keep residents and businesses from leaving Illinois?

Plain and simple - reduce taxes and regulations. As a side note- Governor JB Pritzker needs to remove COVId restrictions and let businesses open, people need to be able to save their family businesses.

Due to an unfolding federal investigation, should Michael Madigan remain in his positions in state government? Which ones? Why or why not?

No one should have as much power as Speaker Madigan in America. He controls all of the government in Illinois and has ruled both the ranks of the Democratic Party and the rest of Illinois with an iron fist. How can you ask who is to blame? Speaker Madigan created the system that this corruption has run amuck. Madigan’s top lieutenants are tarnished in sexual harassment claims, corruption investigations, pay to play aligations, etc. The Speaker needs to go away and the voters deserve term limits to ensure this consolidation of power never happens again.

What is one ethics reform proposal you think would make a difference to keep elected officials more accountable and transparent?

One proposal would be to have a third party(Edgar County Watchdogs or similar ORG) crafted ethics bill that would be not fair to either party. When nobody is happy at the table that is the signs of a good deal.

Please evaluate the job Gov. J.B. Priztker has done managing the coronavirus pandemic. What concerns do you have? What advice would you give him?

I appreciate that the Governor is trying to implement policy that will help mitigate the spread. Regardless of how you feel about the State of Illinois Responses to different aspects of the virus, I truly believe that the Governor is doing what he thinks is right. However, his refusal to seek the Legislature’s approval of his spending and actions as this protracted crisis continues is, in my opinion, a slap in the face of those who believe in checks and balances in government. I believe that it is reckless for the Governor to use his office as if he has autonomous ability to spend and do as he pleases without seeking approval from the Legislature. For these reasons, I give the Governor a B for effort and an F for his approach.

Illinois continues down the path of unfunded pension liabilities with no easy solutions in sight. What should Illinois lawmakers do about it?

Dialogue must start ASAP. The democrat super majority is currently refusing to acknowledge a concern. New hires should start a 401K or similar. Budget priorities should include addressing these needs before retirees pensions are affected.

Voters will decide in November whether to change the Constitution from a flat income tax to a graduated tax. Do you support this idea AND do you believe middle class taxpayers can be protected from future hikes? How so?

I do not support the amendment. The money truly rests in the hands of the middle class. They will be the ones who will be footing the bill for Illinois' reckless spending habits.

Tell us what you hear most from constituents. What is their top priority of lawmakers in Springfield?

Residents from the 55th Senate Dist are tired of supporting Springfield’s endless need for more programs and cash!

What is, or would be, your top two priorities if elected?

Tax relief for Illinois citizens via a truly Prioritized, Balanced, and Slimmer budget. The FOID card serves no purpose. It needs to cease.

What can be done in your district to keep residents and businesses from leaving Illinois?

Lower tax and lower worker compensation premium.

Due to an unfolding federal investigation, should Michael Madigan remain in his positions in state government? Which ones? Why or why not?

The democrat party should demand that Mr. Madigan step down. He has become a distraction to restoring integrity to Illinois government.

What is one ethics reform proposal you think would make a difference to keep elected officials more accountable and transparent?

I introduced HB4646 requiring at least a two year period before an elected official can become a lobbyist, known a the revolving door.

Please evaluate the job Gov. J.B. Priztker has done managing the coronavirus pandemic. What concerns do you have? What advice would you give him?

The governor has single handedly destroyed the Illinois economy with his failed efforts and unconstitutional actions. He continues to fail and refuse to present the source of his information as well as nailing down the true numbers of cases, deaths, and hospitalizations. The IDPH is equipped to share recommendations and ideas that we can responsibly choose to enact in each county.

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