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updated: 2/10/2012 4:55 PM

Jim O'Donnell: Candidate Profile

28th District Senate (Republican)

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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A



City: Park Ridge


Office sought: 28th District Senate

Age: 60

Family: Happily married to my wife Marty since 1973 (38 years) 2 Sons: Bryan (29) and Conor (25)

Occupation: Camcraft, Inc., Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Education: University of Notre Dame, BBA in Accounting with high honors CPA, Illinois

Civic involvement: Park Ridge Soccer Board of Directors, 17 years Tooling and Manufacturing Association (TMA) Board of Directors, 2 years TMA Government Relations Committee, 8 years Student mentor at Springwood Middle School MS Society volunteer fundraiser Chicago Marathon Volunteer

Elected offices held: None

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

I believe we must repeal the 2011 increase in the state income tax passed by the Democrat controlled legislature and signed by our Democrat Governor.

It should be noted that this District's incumbent Democrat Senator Dan Kotowski also supported the increase.

That tax increase and the general mindset among Democrats that Illinois can tax and borrow as the way to balance the budget is the reason I believe incumbents who voted for this ill-advised tax hike need to be replaced.

Key Issue 2

Create a positive economic climate for the State of Illinois so that existing businesses are not forced to leave and new businesses begin to consider Illinois as a place to start up or expand.

Currently, we are in a downward spiral with businesses and people leaving the state. This erodes our tax base. By creating a better business climate, we can reverse this spiral and over time, heal our economy.

Key Issue 3

Through my actions and behavior, I will attempt to restore belief in the honesty and integrity of government and government officials.

People need to believe that their elected officials aren't just seeking office to accumulate power, wealth or status.

I am seeking office to run the government in the most ethical and efficient manner possible. As a citizen legislator, I will serve the interests of the people of my district and Illinois, not special or personal interests.

Questions & Answers

What can you do specifically to help the economy in your district? What is your view of the tax breaks granted to companies like Motorola Mobility, Navistar and Sears? For incumbents, how did you vote on the Sears plan in this fall's veto session?

As an executive in the manufacturing industry and the former owner of my own business, I think I have the experience to help make the Illinois business climate more attractive to the people who decide whether or not to come to Illinois, or whether or not to flee Illinois.

The problem we have right now is we are forced to give incentives to convince existing businesses to stay, which is the exact opposite of our true goal.

Businesses trying to escape are not the best marketing campaign for attracting new businesses and jobs.

Providing my fellow legislators and administration officials with the perspective of the business owner will curb some of the pro-tax and anti-business legislation, which is counterproductive in the long run.

When the government makes it difficult for businesses to succeed, they often shut down or leave the state.

Without the tax base provided by profits and wages, the state will continue on a downward fiscal spiral from which it cannot recover.

The tax breaks granted to companies like Motorola Mobility, Navistar, and Sears are directly related to Springfield's failure to enact sensible tax policy. Rather than establish a stable environment for businesses to expand, the politicians in Springfield have adopted a pattern of one-time revenue gimmicks, increased borrowing, and massive tax hikes.

I support providing a level playing field with uniform incentives for all businesses and that begins by repealing the individual and corporate tax increase passed last year.

While I do not support a general policy of lurching from one temporary fix to another, I would evaluate each company's request for additional tax breaks based on the merits of their proposal, including its impact on the state budget and the economic vitality of our community.

Do you favor limiting how much money party leaders can give candidates during a general election? If elected, do you plan to vote for the current leader of your caucus' Why or why not?

I favor limiting party leaders to the same limits allowed for all other political action committees.

The concentration of money and power in the hands of legislative leaders has been a contributing factor to the fiscal crisis Illinois now faces.

I believe the current Senate Minority Leader, Christine Radogno, is an outstanding individual, and is extremely knowledgeable and conscientious in her role as a legislator and a leader. However, while Senator Radogno's tenure as minority leader has not given me any reason not to support her, I cannot say at this time how I would vote for leadership without knowing who all the candidates might be.

How, specifically, would you cut the budget? What does Illinois need to do to fix its status as a "deadbeat state?" How have you or will you vote on future gambling bills' What is your view of slots at racetracks' Casino expansion?

To balance our budget, our state must address and enact reforms to Medicaid and pensions.

Without reform, our pension payments, and debt service on pension debt, will continue to grow.

Our Medicaid spending has risen at an exponential rate, and we must stop this growth and return Medicaid to what it was originally intended to be - a safety net for the most needy citizens.

Additionally, we should be looking at:

Elimination of the legislative scholarship program

Elimination Lt. Governor office

Combining Comptroller and Treasurer office

Reduction in the number of state commissions

Eliminate pensions for every elected official at all levels of government -- from the Governor down to Street Light District Board members.

I have already committed to opting out of the legislative pension system once elected.

I don't think gaming is a desirable way to generate revenue for the State of Illinois, but I do recognize that it is not going away and it does generate economic activity and provides a form of entertainment that assists the tourism and convention industries.

I do not support video gaming in every liquor establishment and I do not support slot machines at our airports.

I do not support expansion of gaming beyond what can be effectively regulated by the State Gaming Commission.

As a practical matter, I believe there should be a properly regulated casino in Chicago, and casinos placed strategically at the Wisconsin and Indiana borders to prevent Illinois gamblers from losing their money to the benefit of neighboring states.

In addition, we should follow the lead of other states in protecting the horse racing industry by allowing either slots at the tracks or a revenue sharing arrangement with the casinos.

What do you specifically support to deal with the state's pension gap? Would you vote for House Republican Leader Tom Cross's three-tier pension plan? Why or why not?

I do support something along the lines of SB 512 as an emergency measure to keep the current, unsustainable Illinois pension system from collapsing. However, I am concerned that it might not be enough to keep the system from failing under the weight of future obligations.

Should gay marriage be legalized? Should Illinois define life as beginning at conception as others have? How would you vote on a concealed carry firearm plan? Should the death penalty be reinstated?

While there are a number of issues with moral implications that are the main focus of select voters, I believe our immediate focus must be on the critical task of stabilizing our state's fiscal affairs.

Illinois is the only state in the nation without a concealed carry firearm plan. We should only consider a plan that includes safeguards and fully addresses the concerns of law enforcement officials.