John Curran: Candidate profile
Name: John Curran
City: Downers Grove
Office sought: State Senator for the 41st District
Family: Wife, Sue, and four daughters.
Occupation: Currently State Senator (41st District), former prosecutor.
Education: University of Illinois (B.S.), Northern Illinois University Law School (J.D.)
Civic involvement: Member - St. Joseph Parish; Board Member - Downers Grove Economic Development Corporation; Board Member (former) Building & Grounds Committee-Almost Home Kids
Elected offices held: Illinois State Senate (2017-present), DuPage County Board Member (2008-2017; Vice-Chair 2011-2017); Woodridge Village Trustee (2005-2008)
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 residents are sick and tired of taxes. We have out of control property taxes fueled by the outrageous number of local governments in this State. Now the Democrats plan is to raise income taxes again? The only rate plan I have seen on the Graduated Income Tax would raise income taxes on those who take in $17,000 per year or more, gradually increasing the tax liability on most families in my district by more than 20 percent. My neighbors and constituents have endured enough from the liberal elite pushing for more taxes. I think the first step to reforming our property tax system is a property tax freeze.
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 hurting families across Illinois, but especially in the suburbs. This is probably the biggest issue facing our district. Crushing property tax bills are pushing families and jobs away, killing our ability to bring in new jobs, and stopping kids from returning home after college. Put simply, we have to create real property tax relief quickly and reform the property tax system.
What is your evaluation of Gov. Rauner's job performance? Please specify what you view as its highs and lows.
I believe the governor has taken on a monumental task, which is to take on the broken power structure in Springfield and Chicago. Personally, I think the biggest success during his term is the recently passed bipartisan balanced budget and the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) which has world class faculty, students and companies working together to promote entrepreneurship and empower inventors of the future. The low points would be lack of real action on a property tax reform or a substantial capital plan, both goals that have been blocked by the Chicago political machine.
What is your evaluation of President John Cullerton's job performance? If you voted for him for president in the last legislative session, please explain your vote.
Speaker Madigan and President Cullerton have wielded far too much control over state government for way too long. If you look at many of the biggest problems facing Illinois right now and the decades of mismanagement and bad decisions that got us here, Madigan and Cullerton are often the one common denominator. During my time as a Senator, we were able to work with in a bipartisan manner in the senate in developing a balanced, bipartisan budget.
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?
The only way to prevent more Mike Madigans from running Illinois is to enact term limits. In fact I just recently signed the "People's Pledge," which states I will vote for legislation enacting term limits on all elected officials in State government and will vote for this on day one in the new Illinois General Assembly. I also believe strongly that our state needs to enact redistricting reform, which will reduce the power that legislative leaders currently have over who is elected to the legislature. This would empower voters to elect legislators who better represent their wants and needs. This will also make voters more accountable to their constituents which I believe will encourage bipartisan cooperation and action.
How concerned should we be about Illinois' population loss? What needs to be done to reverse the trend?
People are leaving Illinois for many reasons, but I believe that taxes and business regulation have made us less competitive with other States. I also believe that Government dysfunction starting with Blagojevich has businesses concerned about future tax and regulatory liabilities. If a business cannot predict the environment in Illinois, then they will look at more stable States to invest and grow their business. As the jobs leave the State, so goes the people. I am committed to working on bipartisan solutions to help stabilize our government through balanced budgets and reducing the regulatory burden on business.
Please provide one example that demonstrates your independence from your party.
This last year I broke with my party on the creation of a licensure for gun dealers in Illinois. As a supporter of the Second Amendment, I found myself taking a look at our gun dealers and how a few bad actors were fueling the gun violence in Chicago. I am not interested in taking anyone's right to own and bear arms. However, we, as Americans, need to stand up for the kids that are being killed on our streets. This legislation gives law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on those who are putting guns in the hands of criminals.
What other issues are important to you as a candidate for this office?
I have sponsored legislation to end cost-of-living increases for lawmakers. Again, I am very supportive of efforts to reform our redistricting process. In addition, I remain focused on continuing to work with members on both sides of the aisle to pass balanced budgets and keep spending in line with revenues. As a county board member, I have led on consolidating units of government to save dollars and reduce costs, I believe we need to continue to look at ways to make state and local governments more efficient.
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?
The best decision I ever made was the decision to ask my wife, Sue, to marry me. I think as a parent, there are a lot of hard decisions that you make in relation to raising and guiding your children. I remember difficult decisions centered around one daughter contracting a severe respiratory infection when she was 2 months old. My decision making focuses on the best long-term outcomes and that is how I approach my job in the Illinois State Senate.
Who is your hero?
My father, Thomas Curran. He immigrated to the United States from Ireland at the age of 20. He worked two jobs, and began to live the American Dream. He and my mother provided for and raised seven children. They have 28 grandchildren. My father was a person of great faith, believed in the value of hard work and of giving back to your community. While I miss him greatly since he passed, the values he instilled in his family continue to live on.
Each amendment in the Bill of Rights is important, but which one of those 10 is most precious to you?
I believe that the First Amendment was placed where it was for good reason. The ability to speak out and challenge government allows us to hold our government and our elected officials accountable, as well as to encourage the flow of ideas, regardless of whether they are popular or not.
What lesson of youth has been most important to you as an adult?
I was very lucky to have the opportunity to play football as a youth, eventually playing offensive tackle for the University of Illinois. Our success on the field, at all levels of football, was proportional to the amount of work and cooperation we were able to achieve as a team. I believe that hard work, and the willingness and ability to work together, allow us to accomplish anything.
Think back to a time you failed at something. What did you learn from it?
I remember trying to institute a senior exemption to the local real estate transfer tax when I served as a village trustee. I gathered all the relevant information and pushed the matter with my fellow board members. The resistance was very firm at first. While I did make some progress, I was unable to ultimately prevail. I learned a lot from that experience, including the importance of listening to each colleague and having respect for their differing viewpoints. I attribute a lot of my success as the Vice chairman of the DuPage County Board in building coalitions to push forward a strong reform agenda, to the lessons I learned during that process.