Joyce Mason: Candidate profile
Name: Joyce Mason
City: Gurnee, IL
Office sought: State Representative, IL HD-61
Family: My family includes my daughter Julia, who is a freshman in college studying to be a teacher, my son Grant, who is in eighth grade, and our dogs Oreo and Twix.
Occupation: Business Consultant, Educator
Master's Degree in Business Administration (MBA) and Bachelor of Arts Degree (BA) in Communications
HRCI (Human Resource Certification Institute) SPHR (Senior Professional In Human Resources) Certified since 1999.
Society for Human Resources Management SHRM-SCP (Senior Certified Professional) Certified since 2015.
Vice President, Board of Education - Woodland Consolidated Community School District 50
May 1, 2017 -- Present
A Safe Place -- Lake County, Illinois (Domestic violence organization)
Board of Directors, 2014-Present
Board Secretary, 2015-2016
Volunteer Speaker & Advocate 2014-Present
EmpoweRun 5K Planning Committee 2014 - Present
Unmask The Violence Gala Planning Committee, 2014-2015
Unmask The Violence Event Coordinator 2016
El Puente Latino -- Waukegan, Illinois (Food pantry and healthcare organization)
Board of Directors, 2014 - Present
Lake County Honor Flight Guardian
Deputy Registrar (Register new voters in local high schools)
American Cancer Society - Gurnee/Wadsworth Relay For Life
Event planning committee, 2005-2011
Event Chairperson, 2011
Recruitment Chairperson/Team Mentor 2007-2010
Woodland School District 50 -- Gurnee, Illinois
Room Parent/Classroom Volunteer/Literacy tutor, 2005-2016
Gurnee Park District -- Gurnee, Illinois
Elected offices held:
Current - Woodland District 50 Board of Education (Elected in April 2017 and appointed Vice President in May 2017)
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?
In general, I am very open to considering a graduated income tax. However, it's important to me that any such plan would be fully researched and not place an additional burden on low or middle income families. My priority is protecting these families from any tax increases. We have been squeezed hard enough for some time, and I believe that it is time to ensure the super wealthy in our state are paying their fair share while easing the burden on the middle class.
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 out of control in Illinois. I struggle to pay my own property taxes, which have just about reached the amount of my mortgage payment. As I've been talking with people in the district, complaints about property taxes are the most common thing I hear. It's a tragedy that for years, politicians have mismanaged our funds to cause this problem, and I believe that we all have to roll up our sleeves and come together to solve it. I would support freezing property taxes -- but we also need to do more. We have to ensure that our schools are fully funded so homeowners don't have to make up the difference. We also need to provide desperately needed property tax relief to low and middle income families, seniors and veterans.
What is your evaluation of Gov. Rauner's job performance? Please specify what you view as its highs and lows.
While I am an outsider to Springfield, I watched our state go over 700 days without a budget. The overall failure to work together, compromise, and do what's best for the people in this district is why I'm running. The people need real representation, property tax relief, fully funded schools, healthcare they can afford, wages that are fair - they don't need political games or constant use of vetoes to halt legislation that has passed the house and senate to force one agenda.
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.
It's very easy for folks to demonize Speaker Madigan to find an easy answer to all of our state's woes. But it's not as simple as that and we need more than partisan rhetoric to fix things. If we are going to get our state back on track and help the people in it, we need more than this. We need to come together to find solutions for the good of our people -- to cut taxes, ensure high quality education for all students regardless of zip code, create jobs, make college affordable, keep our families safe, address the costs of healthcare, and protect women's rights and our environment.
If the people of this district give me the honor and responsibility of representing them in Springfield, my only focus will be truly representing them and doing what is in their best interest. And when I cast my vote for Speaker, I will evaluate the available candidates and do so with only the best interests of my district in mind.
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?
I am supportive of term limits for legislative leaders. However, I believe the real way to strengthen the voice of individual legislators and hold them accountable for their decisions is to make sure every person is fully participating in the legislative process. When we all participate in the democratic process, and use our votes and voices to choose legislators and hold them accountable, we have a more effective democracy. I support providing additional civics education in schools and ways to make it easier -- not harder -- for people to register to vote and educate themselves about issues. I also support campaign finance reform so that candidates with the most money don't have the loudest voice.
How concerned should we be about Illinois' population loss? What needs to be done to reverse the trend?
The fact that people are moving out of Illinois is concerning, and in order to fix this we have to make changes to ensure that Illinois is a place where people can make their home and raise their families without going broke, provide their children with a high quality education, earn a living wage, and feel safe with their families. Some ways we can do this are:
• Cutting property taxes for the middle class
• Fully funding our public schools and creating equity among all schools
• Ensuring pay equity for women and minorities and fair wages for all workers.
• Providing opportunities for small business to thrive.
• Making higher education affordable and expanding vocational training opportunities.
• Enacting commonsense gun legislation
• Finding ways on a state level to provide affordable healthcare options
• Expanding green energy in Illinois for healthier communities and additional career opportunities.
Please provide one example that demonstrates your independence from your party.
I'm not running for public office to become part of a machine. I'm stepping up to run because I love my state and the people in it, and I've seen real families (including mine) struggling. I intend to work very hard to enact real change and work with whomever will work with me regardless of party -- whether it is popular with the Democratic party or not.
What other issues are important to you as a candidate for this office?
• Educational equity
• Women's health issues and reproductive freedom
• Commonsense Gun legislation
• Job Creation
• Affordable college and expanded vocational training
• Environmental issues and expansion of clean energy
• Infrastructure and transportation
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?
In 1999, I was working as a Human Resources Director of a financial services firm. We went through a merger with another company, and moved all of our operations to a different state. I had the opportunity to move with the company. This would been an excellent career opportunity for me. However, I chose to stay and raise my family in the state that I loved, and still love. I believe that Illinois is a great state, and one that's worth fighting for.
Who is your hero?
My mother. My mother was an amazing woman who stayed at home to care for me and my four siblings. She taught us the value of kindness, character, education, hard work, being open to new ideas and truly listening to others, giving back, and living your life to the fullest.
Each amendment in the Bill of Rights is important, but which one of those 10 is most precious to you?
The First Amendment, I believe, is the cornerstone of our Democracy. Without the right to free speech and free assembly, we have nothing. I believe that every single person should be able to have their voice heard in Government, and that those voices should be listened to and considered respectfully.
What lesson of youth has been most important to you as an adult?
Growing up, I lived in a modest two bedroom, one bathroom house with my parents, four siblings, and our dog. I learned that we all have different needs, interests, priorities, strengths and weaknesses. I learned to work together in the best interest for everyone, to compromise, to treat each other with respect and kindness, and that it's important to listen and seek understanding. I learned that we don't always get everything we want, and that fighting and refusing to work together gets everyone nowhere fast.
Think back to a time you failed at something. What did you learn from it?
Life is full of ups and downs, and while not attempt at everything is successful, I've learned a few key things along the way:
• Always give your best effort and work hard.
• Always do what you do with integrity -- because in the end, your word and character are what matters.
• If you can't get the outcome you wanted, focus on how you can get as close as possible. Tomorrow is another day, and another opportunity to learn and work towards that goal.