Tonia Khouri: Candidate Profile
11th Congressional District (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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Family: Husband Joe, Daughter Stephanie, Sons Tony & Paul
Occupation: Small business owner & DuPage County Board member
Education: Harvard Kennedy School of Government 2013
B.S. Public Relations, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, 1991
Civic involvement: Governor-Elect Transition Committee: Intergovernmental Efficiencies
Board of Directors, Choose DuPage
Board of Directors, DuPage Convention and Visitors Bureau
Board of Directors, DuPage Workforce Board
DuPage County NAACP, Member
Indian American Republican Organization
The Rotary Club of Naperville
Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce
Aurora Chamber of Commerce
Naperville Woman's Club
Naperville 100 Women Who Care
Naperville Township Committeeman
Elected offices held: DuPage County Board - District 5 Chairman, Economic Development Chairman, Mass Transit Finance Committee Legislative Committee Health and Human Services Committee Judicial & Public Safety Committee Environmental Committee
How will you work to make Congress more productive and effective? What actions are needed to produce a healthy federal budget? Specifically, what changes do you advocate regarding how revenue is produced or what our spending priorities are? In particular, what effect does current policy have on your district and what changes, if any, are needed?
The biggest difference between my opponent and myself is that Bill Foster is part of the status quo. He uses every opportunity he can to grow our government and raise our taxes, and I fundamentally disagree with that. We're the greatest nation on earth not because of our government programs, but because the free enterprise system creates opportunity, opportunity creates jobs, and jobs change people's lives.
When I am elected, I won't turn a blind eye to my colleagues who serve as democrats, nor will I vote in lock-step with my own party leadership. I plan to be a voice for Illinoisans and work to improve the quality of life for all Americans. If we elected more leaders to Congress who subscribed to that mindset, I suspect we'd be much more productive and much more effective.
As for the budget, we cannot continue the irresponsible practices that Congress has exercised in recent years. Passing massive omnibus bills that are laden with pork and failing to hold government agencies accountable for out-of-control spending are just two examples of bad habits we need to break in Washington. I'm focused on cutting the federal budget based on three target areas: waste, fraud, & abuse.
We need to be more selective about where we spend Americans' money, and that accountability starts in Congress. This is especially important for our state of Illinois, where we send more money to Washington than we receive from the federal government each year.
What immigration policies do you support? Where, if at all, do you see room for compromise to produce an effective policy on immigration? How will these policies affect your district?
In practice, America's disjointed immigration policies are a disgrace that threatens national security, harms our agricultural sector that relies heavily on seasonal labor, and prevents commercial enterprises from hiring uniquely qualified foreigners - many of whom were trained and educated in American universities.
I firmly believe that creating & debating immigration policies is a pointless endeavor until our borders are secured. As long as our borders remain porous, time spent deporting illegal immigrants who are otherwise working and abiding by laws is time wasted.
Once our borders have been secured, we need a fair, easy-to-understand path to legal immigration for those who are interested in that process. We must recognize that our country is a melting pot and was built by immigrants, and that our current path to citizenship is often nearly impossible for immigrants to pursue-particularly immigrants who're not fluent English-speakers. The difficult process currently in place discourages legal immigration and promotes immigrants' prolonged stay here, outside of the letter of the law. So in addition to securing our borders for the safety of Americans, we desperately need to reform the current process.
New leadership is the only way this problem is going to be solved. I will work across the aisle to create a realistic plan, deserving of the expectations of all Americans that can pass the U.S. Congress.
What should be the top priorities in Congress related to the Affordable Care Act? If you want changes, what specifically do you recommend? If you want the act entirely eliminated, please address these questions: Is that politically feasible? If it proves infeasible, where do you see the potential for compromise? If it is eliminated, what would you replace it with, if anything?
Current national healthcare policy has proven to be an abject failure. The Affordable Care Act is a drain on employers by decreasing competition in the insurance marketplaces and increasing costs associated with compliance through increased premiums, less choice, and bureaucrat-driven decisions.
That being said, I don't believe it's feasible to eliminate Obamacare entirely. We would be much better off unwinding the worst of ACA in a way that will allow us to adopt consumer-driven policies to decrease costs, increase competition, and allow critical decisions on care to be made between patients and their doctors-not at the Washington level.
What military or diplomatic roles should the United States play to promote peace and stability in the Mideast? Under what circumstances should we have military forces actively operating?
It is important the United States maintains a strong national defense, however the continued presence of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan remains a major concern to me and is a reflection of this administration's lack of foresight in foreign policy decision-making. While I believe we need to fulfill our commitments to help bring peace and democracy to a region that needs it, it is inexcusable that this Administration pulled our troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq in a manner that later required us to send back more soldiers to plug the holes that we created. And this is only one example of the irresponsible foreign policy decisions we've seen. The Iran Deal has come at a great cost to us, and our current Congressman, Bill Foster, supported it. While I support efforts to reduce the nuclear arsenal around the globe and limit the ability of other countries to procure such weapons, the deal made benefits Iran far more than it does the rest of the world.
Throughout the process, our traditional allies in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, repeatedly warned us of what would happen if we released the billions of dollars held up due to sanctions. As the single largest state sponsor of terror, it is clear that the flood of money into the Iranian government's coffers will find its way to Hezbollah, Syria, Iraq and into Yemen.
For this reason alone, I would absolutely support additional sanctions to limit Iran's harassment on the global stage.
Will you uphold the international climate change treaty? If not, what alternative steps would you advocate? If so, what steps will you take to meet U.S. obligations under the accord?
I disagree with the President in his claim that climate change is presently our biggest threat. While we must acknowledge climate change is real and is a problem, there are much greater, more immediate threats at hand that demand our attention first and foremost-namely ISIS, poverty, and our federal budget, for example. So while I acknowledge climate change as a problem, it is a mistake to call it "our biggest threat."
The reality is that for any change in our emission of greenhouse gases to occur at a level that would slow the damage done to the environment, a universal agreement would have to be met that would require every country in the world to fully and actively participate. For countries that rely heavily on high-emission energy sources, this could be potentially devastating to their economies, and is therefore not an option. While I believe the United States should act as a leader in all circumstances, this issue is, in many ways, outside of our control. For this reason, I am much more focused on finding solutions for the immediate problems that Americans are facing here at home, such as those I listed above.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
In addition to the concerns I have for our U.S. economy and national security, my devotion to helping Americans break free from poverty has been a central focus on my campaign. As a small business owner, I have seen firsthand how jobs change people's lives. 62% of net new jobs are created by small businesses, which is why I believe it's so important to facilitate an economic environment that is conducive to growing and flourishing business.
As Chairman of Economic Development, I spearheaded the creation of Metro West Manufacturing Workforce Collaboration, an initiative dedicated to connecting the unemployed and underemployed in DuPage County with quality jobs that provide livable wages. Through the use of public-private partnerships, candidates are given free training for skilled manufacturing jobs that need to be filled in DuPage County and surrounding areas. It is not our welfare programs that make this country great-it is our free enterprise system and the opportunities it offers. I saw through the creation of this program that opportunity is what helps people break free from poverty. That has been a priority for me during my time on the DuPage County Board and continues to be a priority for me as I pursue this congressional seat.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
The members of Congress who belong to the Congressional Future Caucus, a group of bipartisan legislators dedicated to pragmatic, innovative leadership to solve current challenges.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
My father, a Marine, taught me to be honest, have integrity, and always do my best. I still carry these values with me today.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
I would do it the exact same way. The love I've shared and the lessons I've learned have made me who I am today.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
History. If we know our history, we glean insight into our future.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
I try and teach them my personal life mission statement: To serve God and ALL his children with compassion and integrity.