Mary Edly-Allen: 2022 candidate for Illinois Senate 31st District
Office sought: Illinois Senate 31st District
Occupation: Bilingual/English Language Teacher
Previous offices held: State Representative in District 51
Q: How well did the Illinois government respond to the COVID-19 crisis? What do you think should be done differently?
Illinois leaders followed the science and listened to the advice of trusted health experts. They made tough decisions to keep us safe and mitigate the tragedies of this awful pandemic. As a teacher, I welcomed the mask mandate, but I also appreciated the local control as restrictions were eased. COVID exacerbated the disparities that our communities face. It is important to learn from this crisis, so we are prepared for the
next one, whatever it may be. It's easy to play "Monday morning quarterback," and I refuse to do so.
Q: What are the most important components that should be included in legislative ethics reform? What will you do to help them come to pass?
The Illinois Senate passed a rule that limits leadership to ten years. Last year, ethics reform legislation passed out of the house and senate that included restrictions on the revolving door from legislator to lobbyist. The Legislative Inspector General needs to be given more independence and we need continued reform to do so. We also need to eliminate 'dark money' and change the way campaigns are financed. It's vital to have transparent disclosure of where money comes so that we can shine a light on the Springfield culture of "kickbacks'' where politicians give jobs and other rewards to their campaign donors. As a legislator I will work to pass more substantial ethics reform but it won't get done without building consensus.
Q: What should the state do to address the still-growing problems with its key pension programs?
We need to have all stakeholders at the table and have a serious discussion about the status and sustainability of these programs. It's irresponsible to kick the can and pass the obligation to the next generation. However, pensions are a promise that workers have paid into and that promise should not be broken. We need to honor our promises.
Q: Describe at least two circumstances in which you have shown or would show a willingness to act independently of the direction or demands of party leadership.
While I was a state Representative, serving in the 101st General Assembly, it wasn't certain that the Reproductive Health Act would be called for a vote. I was one of the eleven freshman legislators that rallied leadership to call the bill for a vote. I believe it was our collective effort that was instrumental in declaring Illinois a safe haven for reproductive health rights.
I also publicly backed fair maps because I don't believe politicians should choose their voters. There should be an independent commission that oversees redistricting.
Q: What should lawmakers be doing to stem out-migration from Illinois?
First, it should be noted that Lake County has seen little to no decline in population. In fact, many people move to Lake County because of our excellent public schools.That said, there are still disparities in the quality of education across the county. To ensure families don't feel the need to seek education elsewhere, we must maintain the high quality of our K-12 schools, and make education equitable at schools that don't meet those standards. Post-high school, we must make higher education and job training in Illinois more affordable, so that our own residents can attend our state schools without taking on high debt. This will increase the chances of graduates building their future here in Illinois. A better educated workforce results in a stronger Illinois.
Q: Do you believe climate change is caused by human activity? What steps should government be taking to address the issue?
Combating human-made climate change must happen on both micro and macro levels, and we must pursue legislation that creates and encourages stewardship of our environment and regional ecosystems. We must move away from burning fossil fuels and toward renewable energy. But that move can be expensive at first.
The government can help by offering tax incentives for clean energy solutions, such as home solar panels and electric vehicles. We must also utilize natural ways to store and remove carbon from the air. According to the US Forest Service, forests sequester about 16% of the US annual emissions. As State Rep, I passed Public Act 101-0102 that strengthens penalties for wrongful tree removal. If elected, I will continue to fight for legislation that protects the environment and creates economic opportunities for Illinoisans.
Q: The graduated income tax is designed with the intent to reduce taxes for 97 percent of Illinoisans. Do you believe that will happen? Why or why not? What assurances can you offer voters?
One of the key complaints Illinois residents have is high property taxes. In 2018, we had the opportunity to ease that burden for 97% of citizens, but using fear tactics, special interest groups were able to sway people from voting for the graduated income tax. Currently, 32 states have a progressive tax rate, similar to what we all experience with our federal taxes, which indicates that a graduated income tax can be properly implemented here in Illinois.