Deanne Marie Mazzochi: Candidate profile
Name: Deanne Marie Mazzochi
Facebook: Deanne Mazzochi for Illinois
Office sought: Illinois State Representative -- District 47
Family: Husband Tim, two children.
Occupation: Patent Litigation Attorney/Founding Partner -- Rakoczy Molino Mazzochi Siwik LLP (RMMS Legal), 6 W. Hubbard St., Suite 500, Chicago, IL 60654.
Education: Boston University -- Bachelors of Art Political Science, Bachelors of Art Chemistry with a Biology Minor; George Washington University -- Juris Doctorate with Honors
Civic involvement: Served on various boards for not-for-profit entities; served with or was a member of the Elmhurst Instrumental Music Boosters; Chamber of Commerce.
Elected offices held: Trustee, College of DuPage Board (April 2015 -- Present); Chairman, College of DuPage Board (December 2015 -- Present, re-elected Chairman 2016, 2017, 2018)
Questions & Answers
Would you vote to approve a graduated income tax? If so, what qualifiers would you impose and where would you set the brackets? What would the top tax rate be?
No. Illinois does not have a tax problem -- it has a spending problem.
I will not vote to amend the Illinois Constitution or otherwise approve statutory tricks to impose an escalating income tax. Democrats are calling the tax "progressive"; in reality it is regressive given the effect it will have on our state's already precarious economic condition. The last proposal Democrats presented to the Illinois General Assembly was not a "billionaire" tax, but increased tax rates above the current rate at every income level above $7500/year. Since every time our state has increased taxes, spending has gotten worse, we need to squeeze the most value out of our current spending, not allow another money grab from our already cash-strapped residents. The uniform income tax that the Illinois Constitution guarantees to all residents is one of the few competitive advantages that Illinois can claim over neighboring states.
When the Madigan Democrats in the General Assembly consolidated votes to override Governor Rauner's veto of their 32% personal income tax increase demand, they added an additional $5 billion in revenue. Where did that go? A lot of politically connected bailouts, no real reform. It is telling that the biggest proponents of the graduated income tax -- J.B. Pritzker, Michael Madigan and the Democratic Party of Illinois -- refuse to release the brackets and rates they propose to impose if elected this cycle. They don't say whether they plan to impose this tax on currently tax-free municipal bond interest income. This type of deception denies voters their right to informed consent. It keeps us worried about our pocket books and prevents us from making educated decisions.
My record is one where we cut taxes and found ways to do more with less.
How big a problem is the level of property taxation in Illinois? If you view it as a problem, what should be done about it?
Illinois Property taxes are out of control. Our property tax system overtaxes our homeowners while stealing the value of their homes out from under their feet. It also sets the stage for the corrupt pay-to-play politics we have seen associated with the Cook County Assessor's office and Michael Madigan; and again allows insiders who hire Madigan's law firm to challenge property taxes to avoid paying their fair share.
On the campaign trail I hear the words "property taxes" at nearly every door I knock and community event I attend. I see "For Sale" sign after "For Sale" sign in some of the most established neighborhoods within our district. Residents sadly tell me they are fleeing to states with lower property tax burdens and equal or higher standards of living. Our property tax system is crushing the middle class and making the American Dream unaffordable in Illinois.
From state agencies to local municipalities, we need to think of how to innovate so that we can achieve more with less. Strong spending oversight, realistic funding assessments, eliminating unfunded state mandates that do not improve education quality, communicating real-world service costs to taxpayers, and refining the mission of specific agencies are all methods to achieve better efficiency and efficacy. DuPage County has had some success in this area already and the state as a whole must continue to forge this path.
As Chairman of the College of DuPage Board of Trustees, I increased spending oversight and was actually able to cut tuition and taxes to pre 2014-2015 levels, even while paying to clean up the corruption; and we added more programs for students. This feat required tough but realistic choices and is a model that can and should be applied to the State budget.
High property taxes can also be a barrier to small businesses; a mom and pop store that earns $60,000 but has to pay $30,000 in property taxes is not sustainable; and when that fails, municipalities lose their sales tax revenues as well.
A cap on property taxes would be a first step in addressing this issue.
What is your evaluation of Gov. Rauner's job performance? Please specify what you view as its highs and lows.
No one gets a governor who agrees with them 100% of the time. When Governor Rauner tries to reconcile priorities for the state as a whole, people on either side of the political aisle can feel frustrated. But I'll take anyone who considers the best interests of the state as a whole over a Madigan-controlled uni-party, where a governor not only won't check and balance Chicago machine politics, but will grease the wheels leading to more corruption and dysfunction.
When the Governor came into office in 2015 he faced an opposing supermajority in each chamber. But instead of caving, and playing go along to get along, he faced them down. That hadn't happened before, so progress ground to a halt and the battle lines were drawn. I certainly applaud the Governor for his defense of taxpayers in our state and his attempts to make Illinois more business friendly. We can never have a strong middle class if we run manufacturing out of state, and continue to stifle the growth of small businesses.
But instead of looking backwards, I choose to look forward to the choice voters have in November. J.B. Pritzker's policy choices are more of the same that over the last thirtyplus years that have taken Illinois from a top-ranked state to the financial bottom. Pritzker is clear: there are no taxes he won't raise and no revenue source he won't tap to feed the machine.
The choice is clear -- Rauner, a Governor who has attempted to serve as a check and balance against oppressive taxation policies and excessive public spending, or Pritzker -- a Chicago-machine tax and spend Democrat with no sense of fiscal accountability, and who fails to practice what he preaches for the rest of us. I think we all know who will keep the 47th district prosperous and safe.
What is your evaluation of Speaker Michael Madigan's job performance? If you voted for him for speaker in the last legislative session, please explain your vote.
Substandard. His tactics and methods could never survive scrutiny in the private sector. Look around the state and see disaster after disaster that has accumulated under his watch. One of the lowest GDP growth rates in the nation, an unemployment rate above the national average, a monstrous Chicago murder rate, billions of dollars in unpaid bills, and a looming public pension crisis. All of these problems can be traced back to the source -- Michael Madigan's political decisions made to secure his Speaker of the House power for nearly all of the last 40+ years.
The concentration of power in his hands and his abuse of the House Rules Committee is a travesty. The Rules Committee empowers Madigan to strangle good legislation out of existence before it reaches the House floor and to stifle constructive debate. His minions head other critical committees to keep political insiders fat and happy. That goes against every sentiment that our nation's founding fathers stood for and enshrined in our national constitution.
I will never vote for Michael Madigan for Speaker. I will actively work with my Republican House colleagues and across the aisle with forward thinking Democratic legislators to find a viable candidate to replace Madigan -- unlike my opponent who has coyly suggested he won't vote for Madigan, but won't say who he will vote for. If he follows the standard Democrat playbook, he'll vote for himself or another lost cause for Speaker, thus ensuring Madigan stays in power.
Should there be term limits for legislative leaders? If so, what would you do to make that happen? What other systemic changes should be made to strengthen the voice of individual legislators, limit the control of legislative leaders, encourage bipartisanship?
I fully support term limits for both legislative leaders and members. The founding fathers of our country envisioned citizen-legislators as the leaders of the nation, not an unaccountable, full-time political ruling class. I will press for legislation to make term limits a reality and will support other representatives who bring such legislation to the floor.
Prior to being sworn in as the State Representative for District 47, I joined members of the House Republican Caucus, Illinois State Senate Republican Caucus, and other Republican General Assembly candidates to sign the People's Pledge. The Pledge is a sworn statement of my commitment to fight for term limits. To my knowledge, no Democrats have joined on and signed the pledge, including my opponent. Nor do I expect him to. He quit his job to run for the Legislature -- following the Madigan model in both principle and practice.
Michael Madigan plainly doesn't agree with capping legislators' time in Springfield, or in leadership. He has been in office since before I was born. To combat his icy grip on our state, we need to work to elect more Republicans who don't owe Madigan anything, and who are committed to term limits and fair maps that don't disproportionately favor certain parties or politicians. I will support any amendment of the State constitution that will provide for fair maps and I will work with fellow legislators to end the unfair Rules Committee process that prevents good bills from being debated and brought to the floor. Regardless of whether it is fellow Republicans or brave Democrats willing to go against the grain, I will work with any member of the General Assembly who wants to open up debate and create a freer flow of ideas and good policy in Springfield.
How concerned should we be about Illinois' population loss? What needs to be done to reverse the trend?
The outmigration from our State is a major concern of mine and should be on the radar of every policy maker in Springfield. As it stands now, Illinois may lose at least two, if not more, U.S. Congressional seats after the next census. This likely loss of seats weakens our standing on the national stage and lowers our leverage in the federal policy making process.
As discussed in previous questions, a multi-faceted approach is necessary to stop the exodus. We need to cap and lower property taxes; relax senseless business regulations and burdens; enact term limits; design government policy to play to our strengths; innovate and more. There is plenty of bad policy to work with, and every little bit of reform will bring us closer to making Illinois a destination state again.
Please provide one example that demonstrates your independence from your party.
When I was elected to the Board of Trustees at the College of DuPage, I was the outsider running on a platform offering a clean slate for the college. Many from my party wanted someone "safe" who would just keep the College out of the headlines. I rejected that approach; we needed real oversight and reform.
The policies and stances I supported led to contentious vote after contentious vote, and oftentimes no agenda item was left unchallenged. Some meetings stretched until 2 a.m. Despite all of the resistance, we were able to accomplish a lot in those first few months, and my leadership on the issues was recognized as my fellow trustees elected me as Chairman of the Board. After becoming Chairman, I made sure every member of the Board knew that any reasonable or arguable position could be brought to the table for discussion at our meetings. This transparency and equality rubbed some of the old members of the Board the wrong way and they tried to grind progress to a halt through grandstanding and other subversive means. Several of those trustees were helped behind the scenes by someone who called himself a Republican.
However, even in disagreement I created opportunities to have honest, sincere discussions. Slowly but surely, through a measured and methodical approach, we were able to make significant progress reforming the institution. These positive changes led to a restoration of public faith in the mission and functions of the College. We were able to balance the budget, freeze our property tax levy, and lower the cost of tuition -- all during the Great Recession. When it came time to reformulate the Strategic Long Range Plan, I looked for common ground and ways to help students achieve positive learning outcomes despite previous policy disagreements. All of this was hard and often frustrating work, but was its own reward as the Board banded together despite our differences and improved the College as a result.
While I'm still new to the General Assembly, I'm committed to following the same principles that allowed us to better the College of DuPage. I will always keep the lines of communication open regardless of party. I am always willing to have reasonable discussions to try and bridge the gap; and I am always on the lookout for more data and evidence that identify a better way of doing things. I only ask that the other side is open to being persuaded as well, and that we agree to formulate policy based on facts, logic and reason, not raw emotionalism. We aren't there for personal glory and the best ideas should carry the day.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
There are numerous issues that are important to me as I strive to best represent the priorities and principles of the people of the 47th District. My predecessor Patti Bellock was a passionate advocate for some of our most vulnerable residents with disabilities and mental health issues. Residents have concerns in Oak Brook, Hinsdale and Western Springs about Tollway expansion plans; Elmhurst is fighting O'Hare noise pollution; the east side of the district has experienced public safety concerns that have arisen as a consequence of bail reform and lax enforcement in Chicago; Westmont is undergoing some unique dynamic changes of its own.
My experience in the pharmaceutical world has made me intimately aware of how opioid medication, while life-saving for some, is a scourge for others. There are incredibly complex systems in play at both the state and federal level contributing to this problem; as just one example, the federal Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey, which was tied to hospital reimbursement rates, created perverse incentives to over-prescribe opiates so some hospitals could achieve higher pain management scores in patient surveys. Addressing this epidemic requires a sustained, comprehensive multi-pronged assessment that goes beyond sound bites.
We also have broad-based issues to work on that should be bipartisan goals, such as combating corruption and double-dealing by elected officials; and bringing economic revival to the state.
I intend to keep my finger on the pulse of those I represent and make myself available to every single constituent in the district, regardless of political persuasion or whether they vote for me or not. I have already held scores of meetings with many stakeholders to ensure I understand their viewpoints. My job is to represent the entire district in Springfield, and advocate for the issues most important to our residents.
In addition, here a few questions meant to provide more personal insight into you as a person:
What's the hardest decision you ever had to make?
One of the good things about legal training is that it gives you a systematic approach to making decisions. Gather relevant information. Seek advice and different perspectives. Consider all sides of the decision. Look at historical precedent; and the precedent your decision will set. Then make the best judgment available from the information at hand. And for the big decisions, take time to reassess after some time has passed. Was there critical information or analysis you did not have? A skill you needed? Were some perspectives more credible than others? Then learn and self-improve.
Who is your hero?
Everyone who gets up every day to go to work, and do their best for their families.
Each amendment in the Bill of Rights is important, but which one of those 10 is most precious to you?
It depends on the circumstances; each item was designed to check various types of government power abuses. If soldiers were quartered in your home, you might find the third amendment rather compelling; if you are accused of a crime, you will find great relief in due process protections. The rights specifically enumerated, rather than inferred or developed through case law, that seem vulnerable in our national culture are the first amendment principles -- to speak, to peaceably assemble, and to worship freely according to your own conscience without government interference. But we should never forget the Tenth Amendment, which oftentimes gets short shrift: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." That last clause reaffirms that we the people are the ones who ultimately possess the power.
What lesson of youth has been most important to you as an adult?
You get out of something what you put into it.
Think back to a time you failed at something. What did you learn from it?
I will never in my lifetime perform a double axel. Sometimes a goal is just not meant to be; that doesn't mean you can't set new goals leading to productive, satisfying results.
That is one thing I love about science. No experiment is a failure precisely because you learn something from it every time, including when the result is not quite what you expected.