Carolyn Schofield: Candidate profile
City: Crystal Lake
Office sought: Representative, House District 66
Family: Husband, Steve; 3 children, ages 19, 16, and 14
Occupation: Substitute teacher; McHenry County Board member
Education: B.S. general engineering specialization in environmental quality, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
• Executive board of directors, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning
• Fox River Flood Control Commission
• Logistics and volunteer coordinator for Stuff the Duffel by Second Bridge
• Environmental Defenders of McHenry County
• Northwest Water Planning Alliance
• McHenry County Youth Sports Association
• League of Women Voters of McHenry County
• McHenry County Republican Women's Club
• Crystal Lake Food Pantry
• School districts 47 and 155
Elected offices held: McHenry County Board Member; Crystal Lake City Council
Incumbent? If yes, when were first elected: N/A
Questions and Answers
1. What is your position on placing a 'Fair Maps' amendment on the November ballot? If the amendment makes the ballot after the primary, will you support it? Why or why not?
I absolutely support a fair maps amendment proposal, which would take legislative map-drawing out of the hands of politicians and ensure a fair process based on population and geography. In 2012, Speaker Madigan, who is also the State Chairman for the Democrat Party, created a gerrymandered map that protected his incumbents and assured his continued control of the House. With so many nonpartisan and bipartisan groups and organizations in agreement on fair maps, it is unacceptable that the party in power continues to thwart fair maps efforts at every turn. Governor Pritzker has promised to reject any map he deems as "unfair," but we need to remove the political element completely to ensure a fair process that does not benefit any specific political party or group of individuals. Voters should be allowed to decide if an independent commission should be allowed to draw legislative boundaries.
2. What are the most important components that should be included in legislative ethics reform? What will you do to help them come to pass?
The cure for corruption requires bold legislative action that fully bans unethical behavior by elected official in the General Assembly. What Illinoisans got this year was mere window dressing. While dozens of substantive ethics reform bills filed by Republicans languished in the House Rules Committee this year, the majority party leaders only brought two watered down bills to the floor for consideration. Glaring problems brought to light by the current federal corruption probe were not adequately addressed. As a result of weak action taken by the General Assembly this year, it's still legal for an elected legislator to also work as a paid lobbyist. It's still legal for a legislator who is forced to resign due to federal corruption indictment to essentially choose his/her successor. It's still legal for a chair of a key Springfield committee to block bills from being heard if those bills are disliked by important campaign donors. I would support legislation to correct all three of these issues.
3. What should the state do to address the still-growing problems with its key pension programs?
The unsustainable state pension systems affect every other area of the budget by crowding out funding for essential services the state must provide. Illinois needs to get serious about pension reform while recognizing that the Supreme Court has ruled that earned pension benefits cannot be diminished or impaired. Therefore, any changes to the pension system would have to take place moving forward with new employees. Full payments must be made every year, and obligations to current retirees and pension system participants must be honored. The legislature needs to continue offering a buyout incentive for retirees. It also needs to create a Tier III system that operates more like a 401(k), or open the Constitution to adjust the promissory language for new pension system participants in the future. I would support a constitutional amendment change to solve our pension crisis only as a last resort.
4. Describe at least two circumstances in which you have shown or would show a willingness and capacity to act independently of the direction or demands of party leadership. Do you support term limits for majority and minority leaders in both chambers?
I approach issues by deciding what is in the best interest of those I represent rather than what my political party leaders would like. For example, when the McHenry County Board was initially discussing a tax rebate program to return Valley-Hi Nursing Home monies to eligible taxpayers, I expressed concerns about blindly returning funds without fully understanding the impact of the decision. Through many discussions I was comfortable with the outcome of reducing the overall amount to be returned, allowing residents the option of applying for the rebate, and ensuring any unclaimed funds were utilized for the future of our nursing home. Years ago, I did not support a consolidation plan for townships that was supported by the county GOP. The proposal, which was rushed through, would have raised taxes for more than half of the taxpayers in the county. I stood my ground and voted "no."
I am in favor of term limits for elected officials and specifically for those serving in leadership roles. While there is value in experience and voters can display their approval or disapproval at the polls, excessive time served in leadership roles has been shown to lead to abuse of power and stagnant representation.
5. What should lawmakers be doing to stem out-migration from Illinois?
It has recently been reported that Illinois lost population for the sixth consecutive year and that our state lost more people over the last decade than any other state. Illinois has some of the highest property taxes in the nation. This is a key reason why people fleeing the state in record numbers. One way to decrease property taxes is by increasing the number of residents, and, as a result, growing the tax base. Improving the job climate to bring people back to Illinois to work and live would allow for a greater number of individuals over which the tax liability could be spread. We also need to start finding ways to successfully educate those within Illinois and encourage the long-term viability of their residency in our state. This is a full circle approach, starting with attracting businesses and jobs to our state, and providing an educated workforce for those businesses through education of our Illinois students. This would theoretically eliminate the significant decline in population we have been seeing and encourage growth, while in turn introducing more taxpayers into the system and diversifying the tax base.
6. Do you believe climate change is caused by human activity? What steps should government be taking to address the issue?
Scientific facts confirm that climate change is concerning for the sustainability of our future. While my opponent calls climate change "a hoax," there are many reasons for the occurrence of climate extremes. Human activity is one of the reasons as to why flood events, heat waves, and cold spells are all becoming more frequent and more severe. Overpopulating areas or lack of planning can add to water shortages, flooding, and heat islands. Human activity can also affect the air quality, water quality, and stress the ecosystem. There are various levels at which the government can assist in addressing these issues. The majority of efforts should be at the local level. Encouraging the use of planning techniques such as green infrastructure, conservation design, and minimal impervious surfaces will reduce the impact on areas. Allowing for innovative design and engineering practices such as renewable energy and water reuse can relieve the impact by human activity. At the state level, regulations which might prohibit the innovative techniques or local control should be removed. Setting standards and bench marks which would allow for renewable energy, create clean energy jobs, and reduce the cost of energy can also be accomplished at the state level.
7. The graduated income tax is designed with the intent to reduce taxes for 97 percent of Illinoisans. Do you believe that will happen? Why or why not? What assurances can you offer voters?
I do not support the proposed graduated income tax. Until lawmakers develop the political courage to stop spending money they don't have and commit to living within their means, additional taxes will not solve Illinois' fiscal crisis. Springfield lawmakers have not been good stewards with taxpayer funds, and while they're promising the graduated tax will only affect the highest earners, they refused to write protections to that effect into the proposed Amendment. Their refusal to write those protections into the question should serve as a huge red flag for every member of the middle class. Legislators have not earned the trust of taxpayers and have provided no assurances that the money will be used wisely and responsibly. The only way to protect middle class taxpayers from future tax hikes is to elect individuals who are not beholden to Speaker Mike Madigan and his tax-and-spend agenda. Voters must elect fiscal conservatives who believe prosperity comes from business and economic growth and not from ongoing tax increases.