Nancy Zettler: Candidate profile
Name: Nancy Zettler
Office sought: Illinois Senate, District 33
Family: I've been married to my husband, Leo, for 24 years. We have two
amazing college-age daughters.
Occupation: Retired attorney.
Education: I have a Bachelor of Science in Art from Illinois State University, a Juris Doctorate from IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law and an Associate Degree in Ornamental Horticulture from the College of DuPage.
In 2006 I co-chaired Advance 300, a community group
tasked with passing two much needed referenda in support of CUSD 300; an ed
fund rate increase and a reissue of construction bonds. In 2011, as Chair of Advance 300, I led a community group that worked with district officials to stop the renewal of the Sears EDA in Hoffman Estates.
Elected offices: Precinct Committee person, Dundee Township 34.
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?
I would support a graduated income tax so long as it does not raise income taxes on working and middle-class families, but raises the tax burden on millionaires and billionaires. Brackets and rates cannot be determined in a vacuum. What the rates and brackets will be depends on revenue needs. I will not support any plan that would raise income taxes on middle-class families.
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 significant problem. There are several ways to reduce property taxes including doing away with arbitrary corporate giveaways that, more often than not, include taking tax dollars meant for local services like schools, first responders, running villages and other local municipalities and maintaining
infrastructure and handing those dollars over to businesses and corporations,
many of which pay little or no taxes and are healthy and profitable, for no reason
other than that they expect them. This practice impacts what we pay in property
taxes since every dollar taken from the pool that we created to pay for things we want and need, and handed over to an entity that may or may not support the community, has to be replaced somehow and that somehow is usually us being forced to pay more to cover the cost that should be shared by corporations in the
various taxing districts. It, in a very real way, is another tax on us.
What is your evaluation of Gov. Rauner's job performance? Please specify what you view as its highs and lows.
Abysmal. He has devastated thousands of Illinoisans with draconian cuts to programs that benefited seniors, kids, veterans and the disabled while at the same time promoting more and more corporate giveaways in the guise of "economic development". Rauner's cuts and failure to pay the state's bills have
caused the state's credit rating to be downgraded eight times forcing us to waste over a billion dollars in interest penalties over the course of his first term in office. That's a billion dollars that could have been used for education, paying
down the pension debt or used to replace social services that have been devastated by Rauner's slash and burn cuts.
What is your evaluation of Senate President John Cullerton's job performance? If you voted for him for president in the last legislative session, please explain your vote.
While I am not yet a member of the Senate, and have not voted for him, or worked with him directly, I believe President Cullerton to be a strong leader who is willing to negotiate. I also believe him to be responsive to what the people of Illinois want as evidenced by the Senate's passage of a resolution limiting leadership terms in the Senate to 10 years.
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 term limits for legislative leaders, including Governor. I would work toward putting those limits in place. As far as strengthening the voices of individual legislators and encouraging bipartisanship, much of that is on the shoulders of the individual legislators. It's a culture that has to change. I cannot remember an issue or project that I've worked on here in the district, or even down in Springfield, where I have not worked well with people of all political stripes. The interesting thing is that when it's an issue where everyone has the same goal, political party never seems to matter. For instance, when millions of your tax dollars are taken away from schools to give to a corporation that demands it, you don't care if the people at a rally are Republicans, Democrats or Independents. All you care about is that your money is being used for something that you did not intend it to be used for. This kind of issue over party attitude can and should be applied in Springfield.
How concerned should we be about Illinois' population loss? What needs to be done to reverse the trend?
There is no single reason that people are leaving Illinois -- and no single way to address it. Sometimes people leave because of the weather (which will only get worse if we don't do more to address the effects of climate change). Other times people leave because they get a better job offer. Still others, like my two
daughters, leave because they find that the cost of in-state tuition here is way too high. Then, they find jobs in other states and their parents no longer have a reason to stay. And some people leave because of the ridiculous amount of property taxes that we pay. However, Kane and McHenry counties have seen growth in the number of people living there, as well as a growing glut of jobs. We need to fully fund our system of higher education and bring it back to being one of the best in the nation. We need to address the out of control property taxes and I believe there are ways that property taxes can be lowered significantly if the political will is there. I have that will -- we need to stop diverting tax dollars to special interests from funds allocated for schools, good roads and first responders. We can't just give these
dollars away because politicians in Springfield want to hold onto power and cater
to the special interests that fund their campaigns. We've got to fix the mess in
Springfield and bring stability to our state by implementing term limits for leadership and get our state working for the people.
Please provide one example that demonstrates your independence
from your party.
Over the years, as a supporter of public education and a volunteer in the community, I have established several longtime friendships with people of all political persuasions. One example is my work on the fight to stop the state from
taking money from our school district to give to Sears to keep it in the state. This
corporate "incentive" program has already cost our school district hundreds of
millions of dollars and will continue to do so. To try to stop the wholesale redistribution of hundreds of millions of our tax dollars, I worked with anyone who, like us, was against the renewal of the Sears tax grab and I fought any legislator who fought to continue to take our tax dollars without our permission,
including Speaker Madigan. In Springfield, I will represent and work for the people of District 33 -- all people of District 33, not the party and not special interests that do not have our best interests at heart.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
I would like to see an end to our state's system of corporate tax incentives and subsidies like EDGE credit and TIF giveaways that are done behind closed doors and without public input. Governments should not be in business of giving away our tax dollars without full transparency and participation by the people who pay those taxes. I would also work to eliminate corporate loopholes and make the highest earners pay their fair share. I also want to make sure that every Illinoisan has access to affordable, available, gold standard health care and that kids can afford to go to college here without the prospect of being hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt when they graduate.
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?
Right now my family is in the middle of one of the hardest decisions we've ever
had to make. We have a loved one who is getting older and whose health is failing, yet wants to stay independent and continue to live in the home that she's lived in for over a decade. As anyone who has had to make decisions that break their loved-one's hearts, but are necessary for their health and safety, understands, it's an impossible situation made worse by lack of availability and the high cost of care options. I would like to see what can be done to help everyone in Illinois have the ability to find the right balance between keeping loved ones safe and still giving them as much independence possible.
Who is your hero?
The women of District 33 are my heroes.
During this campaign I have met so many amazing, engaged, brilliant women who have stepped out of their comfort zones to get involved in the election this year either by running, volunteering, calling out those in office who are not working for them and supporting those in office who do.
Each amendment in the Bill of Rights is important, but which one of those 10 is most precious to you?
The 1st Amendment.
What lesson of youth has been most important to you as an adult?
Don't be afraid to fail.
Think back to a time you failed at something. What did you learn from it?
Every time I fail, I try to learn from that failure. It may be a small lesson, like how to approach a problem from a different angle; or it could be a big lesson, like when you find out that your understanding on a particular topic is simply not supported by facts and you have to rethink your beliefs on that topic.