Steve Swanson: Candidate Profile
48th State House District (Democrat)
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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: My wife Maureen, five adult children and eight grandchildren
Occupation: Lutheran pastor (ELCA)
Education: BA from Bethany College, Lindsborg KS,
MA from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago
Civic involvement: Member of Kiwanis and chair of the Kiwanis Eliminate Project for Villa Park, member of Advocate Health Care Finance Committee, board member of DuPage Federation on Human Services reform, chaplain to Villa Park Police, serves on a Villa Park Committee that includes police, high school principal, District Superintendent addressing heroin addiction in our community.
Elected offices held: Chair of the Local School Council (formerly LSIC) at Lincoln Park High School in Chicago and chaired the Principal selection committee of Lincoln Park High School
What needs to be done structurally to make the legislature more effective? Will you vote for your current legislative leader? What is your position on term limits in general and specifically for legislative leaders? Do you support the ongoing drive for a constitutional amendment on redistricting? What will you do to promote implementation of any changes you recommend?
I am opposed to term limits. Term limits take power from voters and place that power in the hands of money and lobbyists; moreover, term limits wouldn't solve the problem of gerrymandering which is the real cause of "dynastic" power throughout the US government. I'm in favor of a constitutional amendment establishing an independent commission to draw district boundaries; I will promote change as a legislator by building coalitions across the aisle and by seeking common ground.
Would you vote for an increase in state income taxes or sales taxes? Would you vote for new taxes, such as on services? What is your position on a graduated income tax?
I'd vote for a temporary income tax increase through 2019; long term I will advocate for a progressive, graduated income tax such as one proposal by which most tax payers in Illinois will see a tax cut, the state will get much needed additional revenue and the ones who will pay can afford to pay. I'm opposed to an increase in sales tax on the current base, but would consider new taxes on select services to more equitably distribute the tax incidence.
What changes, if any, do you support in education and education funding in Illinois? Please be specific.
Education is currently funded by property taxes which results in a huge inequity in services provided by local districts. We should not continue doing so. Redistributing the local property taxes to less affluent school districts would be unfair to the local property tax payers. The best way to address the inequity is for the state of Illinois to fully fund education. There are several proposed plans to change the way we fund education in Illinois, however to date the legislature has been unable to reach a consensus. Much more needs to be done to fully craft an acceptable and equitable funding formula.
On Illinois' budget, specifically, where do you believe cuts need to be made?
The state cannot "cut" its way out of its deficit, anyone who tells you we can cut our way out of the deficit has not been paying attention. However, there are cuts that can make a difference. The governor's budget efforts could have been better used finding areas where savings could be realized rather than holding the budget hostage to a political agenda. I would consider eliminating pensions for part time elected officials, challenging the double pension dip rule and consolidating government units to eliminate duplicate services and unnecessary levels of bureaucracy.
What approach do you support toward fixing the public pension systems?
Pension promises must be kept, the state is at fault for not paying what it promised to pay into the public employee pension fund. Since we cannot cut our way out of this problem, a progressive income tax must be enacted to fund necessary expenditures. Changes will necessarily be made to the public pension system to protect it from insolvency.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
I would begin development of a comprehensive Clean Power Plan. (2) I would work to pass a state budget. Illinois' mental health service infrastructure is being decimated. Lutheran Social Services of Illinois laid off 750 staff and closed 30 programs, including two in District 48 because of the lack of a state budget and the failure of the state to honor its contracts. The heroin epidemic forces jails to become "ill-equipped triage centers for individuals with mental illness or substance abuse illness." Funding must be restored for the treatment of mental illness and for prevention and treatment of addictions.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
Learn to speak, read and write in Spanish.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
Science, it caused me to wonder.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Love your neighbor as yourself.