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updated: 2/10/2012 4:09 PM

Carole Cheney: Candidate Profile

84th District Representative (Democrat)

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  • Carole Cheney, running for 84th District Representative

    Carole Cheney, running for 84th District Representative




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: Aurora


Office sought: 84th District Representative

Age: 51

Family: Two children, Jack and Daniel, ages 13 and 15

Occupation: Attorney

Education: B.A., Broadcast Journalism, University honors, University of Illinois-Urbana, 1983 M.A., Public Affairs Reporting, University of Illinois-Springfield, 1984 J.D., Northwestern University School of Law, 1991

Civic involvement: St. Thomas the Apostle Church Mission trip to Haiti Chicago Board member, Feed My Starving Children

Elected offices held: n/a

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Illinois' economy and the need for job creation.

This is critically important, both because so many Illinoisans still are unemployed or underemployed and because job creation will infuse the economy with additional revenues to help Illinois' severely ailing budget.

In knocking on doors, many people told me that they or a family member had lost their jobs and were unable to find new positions despite trying hard to do so.

I will be a champion for people seeking jobs, and work to bring both large and small businesses to our State and this community.

That said, we cannot compartmentalize campaign issues into separate categories because there is such overlap; for example, Illinois' budget, its unfunded liabilities, and the pension crisis impact the Illinois economic climate and job creation.

No category can be addressed in a vacuum as they impact one another.

Key Issue 2

Illinois' budget, including issues relating to pension funding.

As demonstrated by the recent downgrading of Illinois' bond rating, Illinois budget situation and its pension liabilities are resulting in higher costs for the state and impacting the State's reputation and ability to do business.

If we want to lure new businesses, we must act in a responsible manner rather than kicking the can down the road as has been done for far too long.

The practice of unfunded mandates is simply irresponsible.

Responsible leadership means pay schools, Medicaid providers and other service providers in a timely fashion and budgeting in a fiscally prudent manner in good times so as to be prepared for hard times.

Key Issue 3

Working to end insider politics and providing common-sense, independent representation that listens to the needs and concerns of my community and the people of Illinois.

In the course of my candidacy, people repeatedly have told me they feel that no one in Springfield listens to them or addresses their concerns.

As a State Representative, my job is to serve the members of this community and the citizens of Illinois; it is not the other way around.

People have lost faith in Illinois government.

That faith needs to be restored.

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?

We need to focus on attracting and maintaining not only large businesses, but small businesses.

Although we hear a great deal about maintaining large corporations, small businesses are often forgotten in public discussions. Yet small businesses provide jobs for over half of our nation's workforce. Our State, in addition to working in the world wide economy toward luring and maintain larger corporations, should nurture and help develop the smaller businesses that are a mainstay of our economy and the backbone of our communities.

I am eager to follow the rollout of Chicago's new Microlending Institute with ACCION Chicago, a public-private partnership with Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase. Microlending promises low-risk boost to very small businesses in a time of stifled credit sources, and helps entrepreneurs build up the credit to enter the mainstream banking system. I would like to see microcredit principles implemented elsewhere in the State, providing a secure infrastructure for citizens and other businesses to invest in their communities.

I also would like to see the State partner with corporations to provide training and resources for small business.

As to tax breaks, we need to ensure that only smart tax breaks that will in fact retain jobs and benefit Illinois are provided.

We need to work to make be careful to ensure on the local level that incentives such as TIFs are used only in appropriate areas, and do likewise for incentives such as enterprise zones at the State level.

The idea behind such incentive programs is to boost local economies, and the intent is that eventually the companies benefiting from such incentives will be paying taxes and infusing money into the Illinois economy.

Care must be taken to ensure that companies in fact give back to Illinois.

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 would support limiting donations from party leadership in the way other contributions are capped.

The current leader of the Democratic caucus has run unopposed recently, and voting no would serve no constructive purpose.

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?

One thing I would do is work to consolidate the offices of Treasurer and Comptroller for the State of Illinois which would save the State more than $10 million annually. These cost savings would be realized by eliminating 50 staff positions that are duplicated--each carrying with them salaries, benefits, office equipment, office space and utility usage.

Consolidation of the two offices previously has been proposed and supported by the incumbents in these positions, but was rejected by the Illinois House.

For the offices to be consolidated, a constitutional amendment would have to be passed by both the House and Senate, and then ratified by the voters of Illinois.

I also would assess legislatively mandated expenditures, as well as regular statutory transfers from the general funds into other state funds to determine whether any of these transfers can be reduced, temporarily suspended, or eliminated.

Further, the State could explore cost-savings through telework capabilities and software applications.

Taking cues from the corporate world, the state could uncover a variety of savings with minimal overhead by authorizing more state employees to work remotely. (Recouping lost productivity during any snow closures, during which employees are paid but unable to work; facilitating collaboration on projects between agencies while saving transportation costs, etc.)

If every legislator brought one small-scale cost-cutting idea to Springfield, they would add up to substantial savings.

Additionally, the State should develop means to increase citizen input.

Individual lawmakers have made efforts to invite specific citizen input on ways to find savings in the budget; the state as a whole should take steps to likewise solicit ideas from the public and the private sector.

To fix its status as a 'deadbeat? state, Illinois needs to stop pushing its financial problems down the road with unfunded mandates and late payment of its bills.

It needs to do this by making hard decisions on both revenues and expenditures.

It is simply unacceptable for service providers to be forced to wait months for reimbursement by the State.

Moreover, the impact results in lost jobs and further negative economic impacts.

Locally, agencies have had to lay off people because they couild not pay them in light of late State payments.

The State's bond rating has been downgraded to the lowest in the nation.

Irresponsible fiscal behavior results in a State that is unable to lure business and an unhealthy economic environment.

I cannot speculate on how I would vote on ?gambling bills' without specific proposed legislation in front of me.

I do not think it is an ideal solution, but in dire economic times all potential revenue streams including slots at casinos must be considered.

In considering new gaming, we need to examine the impact on existing facilities and also need to make sure appropriate enforcement mechanisms and safeguards are in place.

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 believe that efforts to revamp the State's ailing pension system should focus on long term stability rather than short-term political expediency. For example, simply pushing for a defined contribution plan may not solve the issue of unfunded liabilities that have resulted from the State's failure to make its mandatory contributions into the system. All parties need to work together toward a legitimate, viable compromise that will balance the needs and concerns of the public workers who have put into the system for years and the State's dire economic environment. We should not hastily push through so- called "reforms" unless they address not only the short-term economic realities but long term consequences as well.

With regard to SB 512 specifically, the same concerns apply.

Further, any legislation must satisfy State constitutional requirements with regard to pension benefits to current public employees.

Many of these employees, such as teachers, do not receive social security, and have contributed to the pension system and rely on the pension benefits they were promised.

Sadly, the pension crisis was projected in the 1990s and we are just now dealing with it. The best way to deal with such issues is to take a long-term approach based on policy, rather than a short-term approach that simply kicks the can down the road, as has been the case for far too long in Illinois with regard not only to pensions but other issues as well.

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?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 131,000 same-sex married couple households in the United States, and this figure would be significantly higher if not for the fact that a majority of jurisdictions not permit same-sex marriage. The State of Washington's Governor just today announced her support for same-sex marriage in the state, which would become the Seventh in the nation to fully recognize same-sex unions, and one of our Illinois State Representatives traveled to Iowa for her marriage, which in Illinois is considered a civil union. It is time for inequality to end.

I do not believe life should be defined in this way.

Illinois is the only state that does not allow concealed carry, but states provide varying strictures.

I cannot offer an opinion on a concealed carry firearm ?plan? without knowing the specifics of any such plan.

The death penalty should not be reinstated at this juncture.

According to the Northwestern Law Center on Wrongful Convictions, 18 innocent people have been exonerated since the Center's inception.

Until there is no threat of putting an innocent individual to death, Illinois should continue its current course with regard to the death penalty.