Mary Edly-Allen: Candidate profile
Bio: Mary Edly-Allen
Office sought: Illinois 51
Family: Four children and one dog
Occupation: Bilingual Elementary School Teacher
Education: BA in Elementary Education, Minor in Spanish at Northeastern University, Chicago
MA in Curriculum and Instruction at National Louis University, Chicago
Civic involvement: I have been a dedicated community volunteer over the years including as a PTO President, co-founder of Foundation 46, on the Board of Directors of Illinois Science Olympiad, Co-Chair of the Science Olympiad Regional competition held at the College of Lake County and the Vacation Bible School coordinator for two years.
Elected offices held: 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?
Illinois families are at a crossroads. On one hand, the State of Illinois desperately needs additional revenue to make up for the destruction wrought upon vital services in the wake of the budget impasse. Further, we've only just begun to adequately fund our educational system -- a cornerstone of our economy and what attracts families to Illinois. On the other hand, middle-class families in Lake County simply cannot afford to shoulder any additional tax burden.
I will support placing a tax plan before the voters that cuts taxes for the majority of middle-class families and places a larger share of the tax burden on those who can most afford it. I will not support a tax plan that places a larger share of the tax burden on middle-income families, especially given Lake County's high property taxes. As has always been the case with discussion of a graduated income tax plan, the devil is in the details -- I can't definitively answer one way or another until I see exactly what proposal the General Assembly and the Governor are debating.
If a graduated income tax plan is proposed, it is imperative that we relieve some of the extraordinary property tax burden placed on Lake County residents by directing a portion of additional revenue towards better funding our education system. It is the best way to relieve some of the property tax burden placed on our residents.
Further, any graduated income tax plan needs to be very publicly and vigorously debated by Illinois residents. Ultimately the General Assembly must rely on the public's input as it will eventually have to be approved via ballot question. Whatever plan is proposed must earn the support of a majority of our residents.
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 a burden to many citizens in Illinois. Schools and other services are vital to our communities, but the State of Illinois did not pass a budget for over two years which led to drastic cuts in important funding. Those cuts were passed along to municipalities and counties who were forced to raise property taxes to make up for the state's negligence. I am committed to fighting for fiscally sound, balanced budgets in the General Assembly.
And more consequentially, property taxes have ballooned for years because the State of Illinois did not adequately fund its education obligation -- something we've only recently started doing. Roughly 70% of the average Lake County resident's property tax bill goes towards funding education. If we are truly going to deal with our ballooning property taxes we must find additional ways to fund education, gradually swapping some of that burden off of property taxes
What is your evaluation of Gov. Rauner's job performance? Please specify what you view as its highs and lows.
I think the high point of Governor Rauner's term was the work he and his wife Diana did to restore the Illinois Governor's Mansion in Springfield through private funding. They preserved an important part of Illinois's history.
The low point of his term has to be that Governor Rauner kept the state hostage by refusing to sign the budget for over two years. This lead to catastrophic cuts to vital services for the population that needed them the most. This included mental health services, support for children with disabilities, prenatal care, and housing for the homeless and people with low incomes.
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 am not currently a State Representative so have never had the opportunity to cast a vote for the Speaker of the House. If and when I do, I will consider all candidates before casting a vote.
Personally, my biggest frustration with all the legislative leaders, and the governor, is the length of time it took to reach some kind of budget solution. As I mentioned above the primary victims of this partisan bickering were the people of the State of Illinois -- from human service agencies to local governments, everyone suffered while the legislature and the governor struggled to pass a budget. We need to elect representatives and leaders who are interested in working together for the good of our state.
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?
Money is the number one problem in politics today. It is the primary reason why legislative leaders have so much power. While term limits on leaders may help, the only way to keep so much power out of the hands of so few is to overhaul our campaign finance system and limit the amount of money in our elections.
The Citizens United decision that allowed corporations to donate unlimited amounts of money in support of candidates has made money the deciding factor, not relationships and actions of candidates. Limiting campaign donations would force candidates to run on their records, be responsive to constituents, limit the power of lobbyists and corporate donors, and encourage bi-partisanship. This would be especially true of the influence of legislative leaders, who often direct large amounts of special interest money within their own caucuses.
How concerned should we be about Illinois' population loss? What needs to be done to reverse the trend?
Illinois needs to do more to invest in the jobs of the future and to attract companies to our state. It should start out by restoring funding to state universities and community colleges so that Illinois would have a strong and educated labor pool. Illinois also needs to fully fund public transportation and infrastructure so that businesses have the infrastructure they need to get their employees to work.
Illinois can also offer incentives to companies to locate in the state and provide jobs and to continue its investment in incubators to start up companies. With a strong economy, increased investment in education and infrastructure and increased job growth, Illinois will reserve its population losses.
Please provide one example that demonstrates your independence from your party.
To date, I have not received any money from the Democratic Party of Illinois. I am running my own campaign with my own staff, my own messaging and money donated from individuals and organizations that support me because of who I am and what I believe in.
I am not a career politician, I am a teacher and I know that I can always learn and receive new information to inform my decisions.
What other issues are important to you as a candidate for this office?
I am very concerned about the preservation of our environment. Since the current leadership of the United States Environmental Protection Agency has loosened environmental protections for our air, water and soil, it has become imperative that the State of Illinois step forward and be a leader in protecting these precious resources.
As I will address in a question below, I am also a passionate advocate for improving mental health and substance abuse services. I strongly believe they should be treated as diseases and not moral failings, and I can tell you from experiences with loved ones that the State of Illinois does not do enough to help those in need.
I am an ardent believer in a woman's right to choose, responsible gun safety measures, equal pay for equal work, and as mentioned above, providing our young people with a quality education.
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?
Making decisions about treatment for a loved affected by mental illness. This is one of the reasons I am so passionate about providing much-needed services for families in crisis -- I have a close personal knowledge of how few legitimate services we have for those struggling with mental illness. One of the issues I plan on addressing as a legislator is improving services for those affected.
Who is your hero?
My mother is my hero. After raising seven children, she went back to school for her teaching degree and taught fifth grade for many years. She became president of the New Jersey Science Teacher's Association. She inspired me to become a teacher and to become a leader.
Each amendment in the Bill of Rights is important, but which one of those 10 is most precious to you?
I strongly believe in the First Amendment and its guarantee of Freedom of the Press. Facts matter. As Thomas Jefferson said "Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that can not be limited without being lost."
Unfortunately, in today's environment, the First Amendment is increasingly under attack from politicians who are only out for their own interests. We must ensure that our culture continues to respect the First Amendment and defend those who fight to exercise it.
What lesson of youth has been most important to you as an adult?
When I was sixteen years old, I was awarded a scholarship to study in Chile for a year. I learned that the world is bigger than the United States and a true respect for a culture different than my own. This experience spurred curiosity about the world and the importance of being involved politically. Living in Chile gave me a real appreciate for the freedom of the press without retribution here in the United States.
Think back to a time you failed at something. What did you learn from it?
I filed for divorce from my husband of 25 years in 2014. I learned a lot about myself, and how strong I can be, in that process. I have my own voice and my own opinions and they are valuable and important. I believe this experience will serve me well, as I'm confident I would be an independent voice in the Illinois House of Representatives. I have the strength of character and experience to advocate for my constituents without being controlled by anyone.