Marilyn Smolenski: Candidate profile
Name: Marilyn Smolenski
City: Park Ridge
State Representative, District 55
Family: Husband, Mark/daughter, Alexandra/son, Riley
Occupation: Small business owner
Education: AA University of Louisiana, BA Governors State University
Civic involvement: USO of Illinois Volunteer, Republican Women of
Elected offices held: N/A
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, I would not vote to approve a graduated income tax. This is the politician's solution to everything, hike taxes. I'm a first-time candidate, running because system isn't working, I want to change things. One of my top priorities in Springfield will be to fight for lower taxes. Now they are talking about a graduation income tax hike that will only hike everyone's' taxes. It's the same tax & spend gimmick.
My opponent voted for the resolution in support of a progressive income tax hike, calling it a 'Fair Tax'. When have politicians ever done anything that you would say sounds fair. I've been a single mom on a tight budget and couldn't imagine living under a fluctuating progressive income tax. Moylan wants to take more money out of your pocket.
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?
People are being taxed out of their homes. I've spoken with many families in our district who have plans to leave the state. They can't afford the growing property taxes and rather than selling and downsizing, they would rather move to another state where they can maintain the same lifestyle for less money. We need to lower property taxes to keep people from leaving and make Illinois more attractive and affordable for people to stay but also attract new businesses and encourage current businesses to expand.
My opponent, Marty Moylan, talks a about freezing property taxes, but nothing has changed during his three terms. Even if we take him at face value, why would we want to freeze taxes at the highest rate in the nation? Instead, I support lowering and capping property taxes at one percent of the home's market value, which will give homeowners the stability and relief they deserve.
What is your evaluation of Gov. Rauner's job performance? Please specify what you view as its highs and lows.
I am running to represent the families of my district. I've never run for office before and will go down to Springfield to serve as an independent voice for our community. I am running because I am not happy with the leadership shown by either party.
I am not taking money from Gov. Rauner, JB Pritzker, or Speaker Madigan so I can be independent of both. I am not beholden to politicians in either party and will be able to stand up to both parties. I was encouraged by the inclusion of the first ever scholarship program.
If elected, I will fight for truly balanced budgets. The budget that was passed last year was $1.2 billion out of balance, which will only lead to more tax hikes.
What is your evaluation of Speaker Michael Madigan's (President John Cullerton's) job performance? If you voted for him for speaker (president) in the last legislative session, please explain your vote.
Speaker Madigan and the political culture in Springfield has failed us. They have failed to lower our property taxes, they have failed to keep women safe, and they have failed to improve quality of life for the families of our community. My opponent has taken almost a million dollars from Mike Madigan. He has voted for him every time as Speaker and continues to support him despite the fact that the state is bankrupt and sexual harassment scandals have engulfed his campaign apparatus.
My opponent is so happy with Madigan's leadership that he leads chants in support of the Speaker.
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, there should be legislative term limits because too many state officeholders seem more interested in building a political career than serving us. My opponent has it fully within his power to term-limit Mike Madigan, the longest serving Speaker in state history. Instead of standing up for our families and voting against Speaker Madigan, instead of joining with reform-minded Democrats like Scott Drury, Moylan continues to prop up Speaker Madigan.
In addition to term limits, we should also be discussing redistricting reform and changing the overall culture in Springfield. Members of the GA should not be allowed to benefit from laws that they enact, ex: property tax appeal attorneys. We also need an independent and permanent Legislative Inspector General.
How concerned should we be about Illinois' population loss? What needs to be done to reverse the trend?
Families are fleeing Illinois because the politicians have failed us. My opponent has been in Springfield for six years, he has had every opportunity to change the culture and direction of our state. Instead, he has voted to maintain the status-quo.
We should be concerned about families fleeing, because it tells us that they know they can get a better quality of life at a lower cost in our neighbor states. They know they can find a government that will provide core services in other states. They know government won't steal their home values and destroy their communities from right under them.
The number one thing we can do to keep families here in Illinois is lowering and capping property taxes at 1% of home values. It isn't enough to talk about property tax reform. It isn't enough to vote for empty political bills that "freeze" property taxes at the highest level in the nation. Families need results.
Please provide one example that demonstrates your independence from your party.
I have pledged not to take money from Rauner or Madigan which allows me to maintain an independent voice. I am going to represent the people of my district and I will not be beholden to the leaders of either party.
We always hear from Republicans "cut, cut, cut"; because it is easy politically, but I want to make sure we prioritize spending to ensure the people who are truly in need are receiving services. Do we spend too much? Yes, we spend too much. But just going out and yelling cut, cut, cut isn't enough.
What other issues are important to you as a candidate for this office?
The number one issue I hear from families as I go door to door is property taxes are so high they are destroying home values and forcing our friends and neighbors to flee.
Families deserve results. They deserve to be able to pursue the American dream of owning a home, putting down roots in a community, and growing a family. Over Rep. Moylan's tenure in office that has gotten steadily more difficult to do. On Moylan's watch, taxes have continued to rise, home values have continued to fall, and Moylan and his political benefactors have maintained power.
The culture and policies in Springfield don't serve us. They serve the politicians in power. That is why I am running.
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?
Every decision I've made is based around how it will affect my family. When you look through a lens of what's best for my family long-term, those decisions become easier.
Who is your hero?
"We all have dreams. In order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort." -- Jesse Owens
Each amendment in the Bill of Rights is important, but which one of those 10 is most precious to you?
The first amendment is most important to me because it gives us freedom of religion, speech, press, and petition which limits government and guarantees freedom.
What lesson of youth has been most important to you as an adult?
Your circumstances do not define you. You can have a better life, you can be whatever you want to be, but you have to seize your opportunities and work hard.
Think back to a time you failed at something. What did you learn from it?
I've had my fair share of trials and tribulations, I've learned and grown from each experience. One of the most important lessons is to pause, take a step back, and look at each situation objectively instead of emotionally.