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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.
City: Des Plaines
Office sought: 55th District Representative
Family: Married to Lisa, son Colt.
Education: Candidate did not respond.
Civic involvement: Candidate did not respond.
Elected offices held: Alderman, City of Des Plaines 2007-2009 Mayor, City of Des Plaines 2009-Present
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.
Key Issue 1
My top issue is to curb state spending and help provide fiscal responsibility to eliminate the state?s budget deficit so we can continue rebuilding our local communities
Key Issue 2
Creating good paying sustainable jobs and helping local small business grow.
Key Issue 3
Finding a fair fix to the pension issue so that the state can meet its obligation, taxpayers are not further burdened and employees are able to receive their retirement benefits.
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?
There is no quick fix to resolve this situation. The people of Illinois and public employees understand that something must be done to save our pension systems from not being able to pay the employees who have invested into it. What?s important is that whatever changes are proposed or made should be done with all the interested parties at the negotiation table. The financial meltdown our nation endured was no help to an already festering problem. The solution proposed cannot take a short term-?band-aid? approach but must instead focus on creating a long term sustainable plan that is formed by a consensus of all interested parties. We were put into the current situation by past General Assemblies and previous administrations simply ignoring the problem or applying short term fixes. This issue is one of my top priorities and I look forward to making sure our state makes its full pension payment each year. While the General Assembly has taken some small action to reduce pension cost by millions of dollars, I believe a good first step in reducing pension cost would be to eliminate pensions for elected officials. There needs to be a commitment for the full pension cost to be paid each and every year. I do not think the pension cost should be shifted onto local school districts. Local taxpayers are currently struggling to make ends meet and adding any extra cost would simply be too much for many households to sustain. To help ease the cost of pensions, careful consideration should be taken to monitor big hikes at the end of someone?s career simply to increase their pension. I think the serious issues that face our state and nation are more than enough reason for the gridlock to end. The General Assembly has shown some instances of willingness to work together for the common good of the citizens but I think the only way we can begin to solve problems such as the pension systems is to have all arms of government working together.
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?
As the Mayor of Des Plaines, I worked side by side with city officials to cut $10 million dollars from the city budget in my first year without reducing any services. I think it?s important for the state to be able to make cuts that reduce cost but keep vital programs and services operational. Fixing the budget also involves paying down the backlog of bills and ensuring that the state spends no more than it takes in each year. Just like the Illinois? families, the state has begun to build its budget starting at zero and working with lawmakers and agencies to justify each and every dollar that?s spent. Fiscal responsibility is a must in order to craft a balanced budget. The state must find ways to reduce waste such as combining agencies that have repetitive services such as the state comptroller and treasurer?s office, cutting the number of state airplanes, ending pay for state boards and commissions and requiring voter approval before any pay increase goes into effect for lawmakers. Before I sign onto any gaming bill, I would need to understand the details of the legislation and how it would affect Des Plaines and the rest of my 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?
Part of the reason I decided to run for State Rep was due to the fact of how much decisions in Springfield were affecting the local economy. Businesses in Des Plaines and the Elk Grove Village Industrial Park have been directly affected by poor decision making and the lack of business forecasting in Springfield. I believe the first thing Illinois must do is establish a climate that fosters business growth and demonstrates that we are a business friendly state working towards gaining fiscal stability. It is impossible for companies to make financial decisions in a state that shows no signs of fiscal responsibility. In order to create fiscal stability the state must focus on paying down the backlog of unpaid bills, including payments into the pension system. Just like households all across my district, we must first pay down our bills before we can start to think about spending. An important step in helping attract new companies to our region and helping our existing companies is finding ways for the state to provide economic incentives. The 55th Representative district is unique due in part to its relative location to several interstate highways, railroads and one of the busiest airports in the nation. In addition, our primary and secondary education systems provide excellent opportunities for businesses to draw a workforce from and also enhance the quality of life for employees living in the area. With that being said, taxes are an issue that must be favorable for companies hoping to relocate or to remain in the Northwest suburban region. Increasing taxes on businesses and homeowners is simply not an option and will only create further problems. Investing in an infrastructure program is an excellent way to create jobs and improve our roads, bridges and rail system. As Mayor, the city of Des Plaines is directing all revenue from the Rivers casino into infrastructure to help reduce flooding, repair our roads and bridges but also create local jobs. Our airports, shipping ports, rail lines and highways are a valuable resource that allows us to play a pivotal role in goods moving across the country and our goal is to continue in that tradition. I support helping businesses create jobs and re-invest into our communities. Programs such as the net operating loss deduction and other tax credits have proven to help businesses reinvest in job creation. In 2009, I was part of a group of leaders that fought to save American suit maker, Hart Marx Schaffner. We were able to save close to 600 jobs and today Hart Marx Schaffner continues to add jobs in our community.
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.
I support limits on campaign contributions. With that being said I think it?s important to note that whatever changes made must ensure that unfair advantages are not given to special interest groups who aim to hijack elections. More public involvement will help to encourage honest behavior. Limits are meant to create level playing fields but irresponsible legislation could result in individuals not being able to defend themselves from unfair attacks. Discussing ways to create a better system helps as well. Strengthening the ability of the State Board of Elections to enforce campaign laws and following the path of other states to move the primary date closer to the General Election are ideas that we should discuss more in Illinois. Over the past year, I have spent my time talking with voters and finding out what issues they would like for me to focus on. Finding a solution to the pension crisis, putting people back to work and improving our schools are consistent concerns I hear from people in my district.
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?
Gay marriage is not an issue that has come up as I go door to door talking to voters. Voters in my district continue to talk to me about improving the economy, pensions, job creation, and eliminating the state budget deficit. I believe the question of when life begins is a topic that many people determine to be personal or religious and I respect their right for that decision to be made by a woman, her family and her doctor if they so choose. I do not support the concealed carry of handguns and one of my top concerns is to ensure that illegal guns do not find their way into our communities. Any issue involving life and death deserves our full attention and study. In the past, several individuals have served time on death row only to be fully absolved proves that there are flaws in the system that should be fixed when dealing with a choice between life and death. Although, I think that for the most violent of crimes and heinous situations, the death penalty should be an option, if it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of a monstrous act. But, I think it?s imperative to construct precautions to ensure that an innocent person is not subject to being executed.