Michael Connelly: Candidate profile
Name: Michael Connelly
City: Lisle, IL
Office sought: State Senate, 21st District
Family: Mike was raised in LaGrange where in high school he met his future wife, Lisa. They've been married 30 years and chose to raise their family in Dupage Co. Lisa just recently retired after a thirty-year career as a wireless technology engineer for Bell Laboratories. Together they have three children, Matthew (Sarah), Maureen and Sheila and one grandson Peter.
Occupation: Mike previously served as an assistant State's Attorney in Cook County and as a law clerk to Justice Allan Stouder of the Illinois Appellate Court. He has been in the private practice of law for over 25 years.
Education: Senator Mike Connelly graduated from Loyola University in 1986 and the John Marshall Law School in 1989
Civic involvement: Senator Connelly is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, Naperville Rotary Club, Misericordia Advisory Board, DuPage Children's Advocacy Center Board 2007 -- 2011 and is a Lector at St. Margaret Mary Church.
For his support of private sector business, Senator Connelly received the Guardian of Small Business Award from the National Federation of Independent Business and the Champion of Free Enterprise Awards from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.
Elected offices held: Office: State Senator, currently office Years Served: 5
Office: State Representative Years Served: 3
Office: DuPage County Board Years Served: 2
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, the answer is not more taxes. The Suburbs already pay for Chicago; DuPage tax payers only receive $ .31 cents of every dollar in taxes paid to the State. On top of that we have out of control property taxes.
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?
Property taxes are crushing families in my district. If we do not reform the property tax system in Illinois we are going to continue to lose population. Our kids are graduating from college and going to other States to find jobs and raise their families partly due to cost of living. The tax climate in Illinois is unsustainable.
What is your evaluation of Gov. Rauner's job performance? Please specify what you view as its highs and lows.
I believe that most politicians want to do what they think is right to help Illinois grow and thrive. Governor Rauner has made it his mission to push the old guard politicians out of government such as Speaker Madigan so that we can leave the back room deals and insider corruption in the past. In this regard I think he has succeeded. However, in Rauner's zeal to right the ship, he ruffled many feathers which has impeded him from accomplishing more good government policy. I have always believed that you can accomplish more by working with people than to dictate an absolute position on any one issue.
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.
No matter what, there needs to be some type of legislative term limits. The partisan bickering has taken over Springfield and has made it tough to get things done. Both chambers are controlled by Democrat majorities giving them significant power over everything that happens. President Cullerton and Speaker Madigan are both responsible for stifling their oppositions policy initiatives through their control. Not every policy is a good idea but legislators should be given the ability to explore policy that could move the State forward.
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?
In the Senate we adopted leader term limits so that a Speaker Madigan situation cannot happen again. This change was made in the Senate chambers Rules and not in statute. I believe that caucus leadership term limits should be a law for both the House and the Senate. Term limits has been on my legislative agenda for years and I have personally sponsored or co-sponsored over 10 proposals that the Democrat leadership refused to allow me to call for a floor vote. If we want to see real change, we need term limits.
How concerned should we be about Illinois' population loss? What needs to be done to reverse the trend?
The problem is taxes. Illinois residents are running away from our out of control property taxes and seemingly constant raising of our income taxes. Now the Democrats want to raise the income tax again through a Graduated Income Tax? We must hold the line on taxes or there will be an even greater exodus of both jobs and taxpayers in our future.
Please provide one example that demonstrates your independence from your party.
I have passed 77 bipartisan bills that have become law since I have served in Springfield so I have many examples to point too. My work on the "Right to Try Act" was the most fulfilling success I have had in recent memory. I worked with Representative Greg Harris to negotiate language with the pharmaceutical and insurance industry to allow patients with terminal illness to participate in experimental treatment. I believe that if you are fighting for your life, and there is a treatment that may be able to help, you should be able to have access to it.
What other issues are important to you as a candidate for this office?
I will continue to be a steadfast supporter of a fair re-map process. I truly hope that we can keep politics out the process and have an independent entity draw our new legislative map. If we don't Mike Madigan will draw the next map, further strengthening his grip on Illinois. I co-sponsored fair map legislation with Sen. Julie Morrisson (D) that called for an independent commission to conduce a fair redistricting process to end partisan jerrymandering of legislative districts.
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?
We all have to make tough decisions in life and they last a lifetime in our memories. A few years ago, someone in our family endured a serious medical condition that required decisions be made quickly. There's no college course on how to respond in those situations. Rather, you simply obtain opinions from numerous sources and make a sound decision.
Who is your hero?
My grandmother Anne Rafter Connelly is my hero. Leaving her parents behind in Ireland at 17 years old, with the responsibility of caring for her younger siblings, boarded a ship in Cork Harbor, and traveled in the steerage to New York City. That took courage and strength. Because of her sacrifice and determination our family has embraced the American dream and prospered. I look at her life and thank God that she did what was hard and gave generations of her family a better life.
Each amendment in the Bill of Rights is important, but which one of those 10 is most precious to you?
The First Amendment is the most precious Amendment to me. Our religious freedom and the right to challenge elected officials is a right that keeps us free and makes America the powerhouse of the world.
What lesson of youth has been most important to you as an adult?
I played basketball at St Joseph High School where I learned how to work with different opinions and skill sets to get the job done. Since then I have tried to apply an inclusive team approach to every aspect of my life which, I believe, has lead me to success personally and professionally.
Think back to a time you failed at something. What did you learn from it?
After first being elected to the Illinois House the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference asked me to sponsor legislation for them. As a newly elected member, I didn't understand how important it is, as a member of the minority party to work across the aisle to get things done. That legislation failed to pass committee and taught me an embarrassing lesson: politics is a game of addition not exclusion. Since then I have worked with whomever I can find that wants to pass legislation that helps improve the life of Illinois' residents. Since being elected State Senator, I have passed 77 bills on bipartisan roll calls, more than any other sitting State Senator in DuPage County.