Ann Gillespie: Candidate Profile
27th District Senate (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.
City: Arlington Heights
Family: James Gillespie (father) deceased
Jean Kapplinger Gillespie (mother) deceased
Kevin Gillespie - son
Gillian Gillespie - daughter
Occupation: Retired from CVS Caremark
Education: BA History from University of Illinois
J.D. From Loyola College of Law
Civic involvement: Organizer of efforts to support the county minimum wage and sick leave law with We the People Mt. Prospect (a progressive community group) and Arise Chicago
Liaison with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky's office for We the People Mt. Prospect
Tutoring weekly at La Rabida Children's Hospital
Site Leader, Lung Force Walk (American Lung Association)
Northwest Suburban United Way Women's Leadership Council
Girl Scouts Troop Co-leader
Elected offices held: Illinois HMO Guaranty Assoc. Chair 1989-1991, Vice Chair 1987-1989
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 for legislative leaders specifically?
Making the legislature more effective requires reforming the election process. The action which I believe would have the greatest impact would be creation of an independent redistricting commission. We also must find a way to reduce the impact of money on our elections, because that reduces the potential of passing policy preferences that favor campaign contributors. Shortening the campaign season for both primaries and the general election, as is done in other Western democracies, would be a step in this direction.
The ideal would be public financing of elections. Unfortunately, unless Citizens United is overturned, the impact of this change is limited.
I support term limits for leadership, though not for membership in the legislature. Unlimited terms for leadership appears undemocratic, because it places too much power in a small subset of voters in one district. As a Senator , I would consider all candidates for leadership and make my decision based on who would be best able to successfully accomplish our legislative goals for the session.
On budgeting, what should be done to ensure that the state does not again go through a period of time without a budget in place? What will you do as a legislator to help ensure that the spending priorities you espouse during your campaign are reflected in the budget?
To avoid a budget impasse in the future, the Governor should propose a balanced budget without non-budgetary demands. The budget process needs to focus on the state's fiscal priorities and health in order to regain credibility and foster a collaborative process as envisioned by the Illinois Constitution.
As a Senator, I would bring the decision making process that I have practiced throughout my career to develop support for proposals which reflect my priorities. That Ã’process improvementÃ“ methodology uses data to identify the root cause of an issue, explore solutions, and recognize their upstream and downstream impacts. This is a collaborative approach that works well with people who start with different values and perspectives and results in holistic solutions.
Should the legislature approve ballot initiatives either for a constitutional amendment on legislative redistricting or one on term limits? If so, how would you recommend the issues be structure? If not, why not?
I support a constitutional ballot initiative to create an independent redistricting commission. My goals for such a commission would be that a redistricting map be drawn which results in compact, contiguous districts, complies with the representation requirements of the Federal Voting Rights Act, respects communities of interest, and uses party affiliation information only as a way to evaluate the fairness of the map.
Ending gerrymandering is the single best way to assure that legislators are responsive to their constituents. For that reason, and combined with a fair method for funding elections, I do not support an amendment for term limits for legislators.
What approach do you support in fixing public employee pension systems?
Benefits are not the problem with pension costs
the issue is a combination of the payment system established in 1994 and the failure to fully fund the pension some years. When a balloon payment on a mortgagee comes due, the mortgagee refinances the debt. Like a mortgage, refinancing the pension debt at a flat rate over 45 years would save the state millions of dollars. Yes, refinancing would be at a higher rate than we are currently paying, but it would be less expensive in the long run.
It is important to rememberÃ‘and for the public to understandÃ‘that a significant portion of the pension costs are in lieu of paying the 7.5 percent Social Security and Medicare payment. Not counting repayment of the debt, the pension actually costs the state less than an employer paying social security and contributing to a pension plan alternative (e.g., a 401k match). Therefore, any legislative change needs to carefully account for this in order to avoid creating a new set of problems.
To what extent do you support or oppose legalization of marijuana for recreational use?
I support legalizing marijuana for recreational use and it should be taxed as a new revenue source for the state government. Both through scientific research and statistics from states that have legalized marijuana it has been shown to have less safety, medical and psychological impacts on individuals than alcohol. Further, enforcement has needlessly resulted in a disproportionate number of African American males being incarcerated, even though the incident of marijuana use among African American populations is no more than in Caucasian populations. Legalization with taxation will both increase state revenues and reduce prison populations.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
Four issues constitute my top campaign priorities:
1.Investing in the future of Illinois by providing a world class education to all students, from early childhood through college. This can be achieved by assuring adequate and equitable funding including reducing reliance of real estate taxes, expanding opportunities for vocational education, relieving teachers and administrators of overly burdensome administrative duties and excessive testing, and restoring funding to higher education.
2.Establishing a fair tax system for the middle class. This will require evaluating the state's tax system at all levels. Steps to achieve this include establishing a graduated income tax or finding methods to reduce the burden on middle and lower income taxpayers, having the state pay its fair share for education funding to reduce reliance on real estate taxes, including higher-end services in the sales tax, and identifying other revenue sources.
3.Assuring that healthcare is accessible and affordable for all citizens of Illinois. This will require maintaining the affordable care marketplace including opening up Medicaid to users of the exchange. We must also assure that women continue to have access to affordable reproductive health care and that adequate funds are provided for mental health, addiction, and senior health care.
4.Continued development of the state's infrastructure to attract 21st century businesses. New strategies for funding infrastructure projects at rates which pay workers a living wage must be developed. Developing infrastructure includes the use of green industries and being conscious of our impact on the environment.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
I admire Pope Francis and how he is opening up the Catholic Church on social issues and the way he keeps equality at the forefront.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
People must support each other for a better society. My mother's actions and philosophy was a great role model for my three sisters and me.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
For my father not to have experienced life-altering injuries in a plane crash when I was young even though it lead to valuable learning experiences.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
History. It shows us what happens when reality meets theory.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Be curious and open to change. Be caring, responsible, and live life with a touch of whimsy. They've exceeded my expectations!