Dan Ugaste: Candidate profile
Name: Dan Ugaste
Office: Illinois House, District 65
Family: Wife Denise; 3 children; four grandchildren
Occupation: Attorney, Nyhan, Bambrick, Kinzie & Lowry -- V.P. & Shareholder
Education: Lake Forest College B.A. -- 1985; DePaul University College of Law -- J.D. 1988
Civic Involvement: Former Jaycees Coach, GOYA volunteer, Parent Teacher Organization, Geneva Booster Club, volunteer Firefighter, former Illinois Workers Comp Medical Fee Advisory Board Member, Technical Advisor to Governor's Office on Workers Comp Reform
Elected Offices: None
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. It is a tax increase and I am opposed to any more tax increases that are driving businesses and our citizens from this State.
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?
It is a huge problem. There are a number of things the legislature could be doing to help reduce property taxes (consolidating units of government; as well as stopping and reversing unfunded mandates). I plan to work on both items. If we cannot get our homeowners needed relief, as a last resort, I will propose a bill reducing the maximum amount of property taxes allowed to a low percentage value of the home.
What is your evaluation of Gov. Rauner's job performance? Please specify what you view as its highs and lows.
Illinois needed drastic reform of its financial structure and internal operations long before 2014, when Bruce Rauner inherited a house on fire. Bruce Rauner tried to impose drastic reform on a state government that needed it desperately, but was blocked at every turn by Mike Madigan and the Democrat state legislators he controls. The Chicago Democrats teamed with special interests to block a financial economic recovery and to block imposing fiscal responsibility on state government because it benefits them personally and politically. This in turn, doomed it dooms every citizen of Illinois to a government that is insolvent and cannot provide the services necessary to serve the residents despite the increase in taxation that is causing residents and business to flee the state. The Democrats have created a downward spiral that Rauner could not have reversed without Democratic cooperation or compromise, and it was not forthcoming.
The Governor tried to compromise with the Speaker, which was met with complete rejection; I know, I saw it firsthand. This tactic will plague the Democratic Party and will plague the state of Illinois as long as the current Democratic legislative leadership has veto power over true reform.
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.
I think the Speaker has failed in his role as a leader. Not only have his policies left this state much worse than when he started, and lagging most, if not all, the rest of the nation in growth, he does not lead -- he dictates. I am not currently in the legislature, but if elected, I will NOT vote for Speaker Madigan to retain his role as Speaker of the House.
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?
Yes. No official should spend more than ten years in the same elected position or as a legislative leader. If you have done an outstanding job as a public servant, you can always run for another elective office. I would like an independent commission to control the redistricting process to create a fair map that allows representation of all groups of citizens in compliance with the Voting Rights Act. A more bipartisan map and the regular turnover of legislators will force new leaders and new ideas to help the system work as intended.
How concerned should we be about Illinois' population loss? What needs to be done to reverse the trend?
Extremely concerned as a continued exodus will only exacerbate the State's problems and work a vicious cycle that will cause our ultimate collapse. We need to become fiscally responsible as a state and this needs to be done not by increasing taxes but reducing spending. We must also start reducing our taxes where we can. Finally, we need to work on reforms to help our business climate, while protecting our citizens and our workers, such as Workers' Compensation reform -- an area where I have a vast amount of expertise, since this has been my main area of practice for the last 30 years.
Please provide one example that demonstrates your independence from your party.
I am not an incumbent. I do have personal history of working with partisans and nonpartisan government officials to accomplish policy goals which I believe are in the best interest of the taxpayers and the State, and I will continue to do so as a legislator. I have also worked in the private sector, as well as run a law firm, with people who belong to another party. People of different political parties yelling at each other and not listening is a recipe for failure.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
There are many, but two of the biggest are: Education -- we must make sure all schools are adequately funded and the State lives up to its responsibility to provide for each child to receive a quality education. Transportation -- to thrive as we should as a state, we must maintain our position as the transportation hub of the United States.
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?
To run for office.
Who is your hero?
My parents and grandparents, who knew and taught the importance of family, hard work and putting others before yourself.
Each amendment in the Bill of Rights is important, but which one of those 10 is most precious to you?
The first amendment providing the right to free speech and the right to assembly are the most crucial because they allow us to publicly coordinate opposition to any government action we believe is contrary to the benefit if the community, the state or the country. They are the basis for all other actions we take as a people to self-govern.
What lesson of youth has been most important to you as an adult?
Anything worth having is worth working for. I have had to work since a rather young age. It taught me the value of a dollar and what can be gained through hard work. The state of Illinois is worth working for.
Think back to a time you failed at something. What did you learn from it?
To always be prepared.