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.
Office sought: 52nd District Representative
Family: sons, Mark (wife Kelly); Bob (wife Mary); grandchildren, Marco, Luciana, Annie, Bobby, Ella
Occupation: Retired counselor
Education: BA, Northwestern University; MA, Counseling Psychology, Northwestern University
Civic involvement: Trustee,Hospice Foundation of Northeastern Illinois (past member & Board Chair, Hospice & Palliative Care of Northeastern Illinois);Advisory Board,Barrington Area Council on Aging & Barrington Youth &Family Services
Elected offices held: None
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
One of the biggest issues facing the district and Illinois is the uncertainty of our economy and fiscal situation and its impact on job growth. Illinois' inability to get its fiscal house in order is not only preventing business from investing in our state, it is also driving out those that have called Illinois home for years. We need to balance our budget, solve the pension crisis and stop creating job killing policies. Illinois must refocus our efforts on creating new jobs, including green jobs, that will put people back to work. To put it simply, we need jobs in Illinois.
Key Issue 2
Another issue I hear a lot about, and one I touched on earlier, is Illinois' economic crisis. Between wasteful spending in our budget, billions of dollars in unfunded pension liability and billions more in unpaid bills, Illinois is going to be digging itself out of the hole Springfield has put us in for years to come. We need to bring resolution to the pension crisis, examine the budget line by line and dollar by dollar, end wasteful and unneeded spending and focus tax dollars where they help people, not line the pockets of the special interests. I believe that if we fix the economic crisis in Illinois, businesses will begin to invest in Illinois, leading to more jobs with a brighter outlook for the future.
Key Issue 3
As I go door to door throughout the district I hear from people that they are sick and tired of partisan politics. They want their elected officials to stop the finger pointing and instead sit down and work together to solve the many problems facing Illinois. We need to end the practices of the past that are the cause of so many of our problems. I'm running as an Independent because I believe those in government need to put the people first, not political ambitions and self interest. I want to work with people from both sides of the political aisle, solve Illinois' problems, and reinstill a sense of trust in government.
How would you fix the state's pension gap? Should pension costs be shifted to suburban school districts? Why or why not? Should this issue be voted on in a lame-duck session? Why or why not? How can partisan gridlock be eased to solve the crisis?
It is imperative that the state immediately address the funding crisis. Without a long-term solution, the state will only fall deeper into debt and disarray. Meaningful pension reform is not just about fixing the mistakes of the past; equally important are the reforms that will lay the foundation for a stable system for the future. Illinois took some positive steps in this direction with the reforms passed in 2010, but we still have a ways to go. The state needs to be responsible and pay required pension payments in full and on time. We cannot use the pension funds as a slush fund and ?borrow? from it whenever legislators want to spend money elsewhere. Politicians have got to stop thinking about their own political consequences or personal gain, and start making decisions based the long-term consequences. Regardless of the final proposal, all of the stakeholders need to have a seat at the table and a voice in the process because all parties involved will need to make some concessions. I do not think shifting pension costs on to school districts is a realistic solution. Even without these added costs, property taxes are skyrocketing, making it more difficult for families already struggling to get by. We cannot simply turn to homeowners whenever government fails to balance its budgets. Lawmakers and leaders have rightly been criticized for abusing the lame duck session to pass legislation that is unpopular with Illinoisans. Lame duck legislators lack the accountability to their constituents and should not be voting on such important measures. The only matters that should be considered during a lame duck session are emergency matters or issues that were considered during the regular session. Any pension proposal should be voted on by the lawmakers chosen by the voters on November 6th. I decided to run as an Independent because I and most of those I talk to while going door to door in the district are tired of partisan gridlock and political finger pointing that is preventing anything from getting done in Springfield. The voters need to choose candidates who are committed to putting aside political considerations, sit down together and work toward solutions to the problems facing Illinois in a way that is most beneficial to the state, not their political careers or the agenda of a special interest.
How, specifically, would you cut the budget? What does Illinois need to do to fix its status as a "deadbeat state?" How will you vote on future gambling bills? What is your view of slots at racetracks? Casino expansion?
The state has to fundamentally change the way we approach spending and budgeting, starting with spending only the money state brings in and nothing more. In order to pay bills on time, we cannot depend on borrowing or IOUs to operate state government. We need to approach state budgeting with the same mindset that families use to budget and consider the long-term costs and consequences of our decisions. We must to analyze the budget line-by-line to eliminate all wasteful or unnecessary spending. Legislators need to do away with their own pay raises and get rid of perks for themselves and state employees, such as travel reimbursements, per diems, and cars and cell phones paid for by taxpayers. While this alone won?t erase the billions of dollars of mounting debt, it will show that lawmakers are willing to sacrifice as well. It will hopefully also create a mindset with legislators that will carry over into the budgeting process; we need to spend money only on those programs that are needed to help the public. We also must identify services, programs, and agencies that overlap, consolidating when possible and financially sensible. Making government more efficient benefits those accessing state services and the taxpayers who foot the bill. I am open to gaming expansion as a means of capturing additional revenue. Right now, casinos just across our borders in Wisconsin and Indiana have parking lots full of cars with Illinois license plates. This is especially true in my district where Wisconsin is only a short drive away. Every time an Illinoisan crosses the border to a neighboring state we are exporting revenue that we could be going to Illinois. Failure to tap into the tourism and convention industry for gaming revenue is a huge missed opportunity. I also support slots at racetracks. This would be an important factor in job creation in the district.
What can you do specifically to help the economy in your district? How can you help create jobs in your district and statewide? What is your view of the tax breaks granted to companies like Motorola Mobility, Navistar and Sears?
In order to promote job creation, Illinois must begin to support the business community, not punish it with increased fees and frustrating bureaucracy. Illinois must also bring stability to its fiscal house. Business does not want to expand or move into a state where there is so much fiscal uncertainty. Illinois currently ranks 45th for corporate taxes and 33rd for sales tax, both of which drive business away from Illinois and make it unlikely that new business will seek to move here. These high tax rates are a result of Illinois government?s mismanagement of its tax dollars. We must end the practice of raising taxes on businesses and residents to solve the problems of the past. We must exercise fiscal discipline through a balanced budget and the prompt payment of unpaid bills as well as demonstrating that we are ready to bring all interested parties to the table where each side is willing to bring about pension reform. We must also allow the appropriations committees to have an increased role in the budget process while empowering them to make necessary cuts. The establishment of ?Budgeting for Results? is also a step in the right direction. Illinois? government must realize that the practices of the past are crippling our state and that unless we change how we conduct ourselves, jobs will continue to be lost and our residents will continue to suffer. I also support the promotion of green technology jobs and investment in infrastructure. I do not support state incentives for major employers, and there is ample evidence that such policies are not sound and should not be continued. I would support the extension of research and development tax credits which is beneficial to job growth.
Do you favor limiting how much money party leaders can give candidates during an election? If elected, do you plan to vote for the current leader of your caucus? Why or why not? Do you support or oppose campaign contribution limits? Please explain.
Yes I favor limiting how much money political parties, leaders or special interest groups can give to candidates during an election. We need to lessen the influence of money on elections by capping what a political party or Super PAC can spend on a given race. When an election becomes all about who can raise the most money the issues get lost. Elections should be about ideas, not about which side has the most dollars spent on their behalf. I also believe that we need to move the primary date closer to the General Election. This should lessen the impact money has on the General Election. I also believe that we should have open primaries. People should be able to vote for whoever they want regardless of party affiliation in a primary election. I also believe that we should return to the days when three representatives were elected from each Senate District. The Cut-Back amendment of 1980 had the unfortunate result of consolidating power within the hands of a few while silencing many independent and reformer voices that once sat in the General Assembly. I am running as an Independent and do not belong to a party. Yes, I support campaign contribution limits. As stated earlier, I think the public is best served when we make elections about ideas, not about which campaign can spend the most money.
Should gay marriage be legalized in Illinois? Should it be voted on in a lame-duck session as civil unions were? Should Illinois define life as beginning at conception? How would you vote on a concealed carry plan? Should the death penalty return?
I support equal legal rights for all couples regardless of sexual orientation, and do not believe that the government should discriminate against same-sex couples. I believe that the issue of when life begins is a personal decision made on an individual level. I support the Second Amendment, and I believe law abiding citizens have the right to carry handguns to protect themselves from harm. The death penalty should be a last resort option for individuals that are guilty without any doubt for only the most atrocious crimes. With any death penalty policy, we run a serious risk of executing innocent people. We know now that 18 people were on death row in Illinois before being exonerated ? that isn?t acceptable. A system would have to be in place to ensure that innocent people don?t become victims. Without these safeguards, the death penalty should not return.