Mohammad "Mo" Iqbal: Candidate profile
Office sought: State Representative, House District 65
Family: Married to my wife, Nasreen, for 40-plus years. We have lived in Illinois for the past 45 years; two sons who went to U-46. Ali is a civil engineer, and Omar an attorney. Both are married; two grandchildren. Siblings include physicians, and a U.S. Air Force veteran.
Occupation: Lawyer and Civil/Structural Engineer
• J.D. -- NIU College of Law
• L.L.M. -- UIC John Marshall Law School
• MBA -- The University of Chicago
• D.Sc. -- Civil Engineering -- Washington University at St. Louis
• Commissioner -- City of Elgin Human Relations Commission (2007--2012)
• Commissioner -- City of Elgin Image Advisory Commission (2004--2007)
• Board Member -- Eagle Heights Residents Association (2008--present)
• Chair, Kane County Complete Count Commission for Census 2020
Elected offices held:
Kane County Board Member, 2018-present
• Commissioner, Kane County Forest Preserve District, 2018-present
• Board Member -- Gail Borden Public Library Foundation (2010--2015)
Incumbent? If yes, when were first elected: No
Facebook: Mohammad Iqbal
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 support placing a 'Fair Maps' amendment on the November ballot. This is because the democracy is fragile. It depends on informed citizenry and fair elections. For fair elections, the districts should be drawn by a nonpartisan commission, avoiding gerrymandering. Fairly-drawn districts can lead to real competition for elected offices of representatives, senators, and county board members. Therefore, we need a debate and then an amendment approved by Illinois voters. In addition, the district maps should be drawn following the Supreme Court decisions.
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?
Government must be transparent. Public should be able to know if their elected officials are engaged in any wrongdoing to make them accountable. This is the most important component that should be included in the legislative ethics reform. In this respect, the office of Legislative Inspection General (LIG) plays a critical role. The LIG is supposed to be an independent, objective official to whom anyone can go to lodge a complaint about unethical or wrongful conduct by members of the Illinois General Assembly. But the LIG is not independent. It is a powerless role, and reportedly no LIG can effectively serve the public. It is because the LIG cannot perform basic functions without permission from the Legislative Ethics Commission -- a body made up entirely of Illinois legislators who have inherent conflicts of interest in serving on the commission. The only way to hold a legislator accountable in Illinois -- and to promote change -- is for the LIG to be able to publish his/her findings. I will co-sponsor the efforts to make the office of LIG more independent.
3. What should the state do to address the still-growing problems with its key pension programs?
Illinois is near-meltdown. The state's pension liability is over $152 billion, and rising. The high property taxes are a result of the neglect the state has suffered in the past fifty-plus years. Here is my plan to fix the pension crisis:
A. Use Actuarial math -- Calculate the pension obligations using real math, stop the liabilities from rising and work to reduce the liabilities.
B. Negotiate COLAs -- Illinois constitution protects the pension contracts as legally binding. The state should negotiate with the retirees to make COLAs reasonable.
C. Eliminate fraud -- The pension system has been abused. Fraudulent pensions and health care benefits should be investigated, exposed, and eliminated.
D. New-hires retirement benefits and health-benefits-after-retirement policy -- Offer sustainable defined-contribution plans, with a few exceptions for public safety. Retirees should take responsibility for their retirement benefits. Relying on politicians would not work.
E. Expand economy -- Gov. Pritzker's plan to "Revitalize the Illinois Economy and Build the Workforce of the Future" vows to create "an economy in Illinois that works for everyone." However, it omits concrete steps to take. Follow the plan, but be persistent to resolve the crisis.
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?
My campaign is self-funded. I am not the establishment candidate and my candidacy has not been endorsed by the party leadership. As we all know, Illinois is in fiscal crisis, and the politicians are responsible for it. My candidacy is neither to make a career nor money, but to make a difference for Illinois. My record at the Kane County Board shows that.
Term Limits: According to the U.S. Constitution, a president can only serve for two terms of four years each. It means eight (8) years maximum. I believe that eight (8) years should be the maximum period for all elected officials in Illinois, whether they are serving in Springfield or locally. This would end perpetual campaigning, political careers and dynasties. It would help drain the swamp.
5. What should lawmakers be doing to stem out-migration from Illinois?
Illinois' population is declining. The population losses have been primarily attributed to people younger than 65. The largest total population decrease has been among Illinoisans age 50-54. The biggest reason for residents leaving Illinois is taxes -- specially the property tax. Illinois grads is another group leaving the state because the higher education in Illinois has suffered due to neglect and intransigencies in recent years along with the budget uncertainties. Illinois needs to demonstrate financial discipline and stability. To stem out exodus from Illinois, consider the following:
• Solve its pension crisis;
• Freeze the property taxes for 5 years;
• Show Illinois grads and their parents that Illinois colleges are more affordable and that Illinois provides appealing opportunities after graduation;
• Attract more workers and businesses to Illinois by aggressively marketing;
• Provide trade apprenticeship programs the employers need; and
• Encourage domestic and international migration.
6. Do you believe climate change is caused by human activity? What steps should government be taking to address the issue?
Climate change refers the effects of man-made increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide. According to the U.S. EPA, "Illinois's climate is changing. Most of the state has warmed by about one degree (F) in the last century. Floods are becoming more frequent ... In the coming decades, the state will have more extremely-hot days, which may harm public health in urban areas and corn harvests in rural areas."
Last year, Gov. Pritzker joined the U.S. Climate Alliance group of governors working to stop climate change. One of the Alliance's commitments is to "accelerate new and existing policies to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy deployment." To meet the goals, Illinois needs to support zero emission energy generation, increase energy efficiency and renewable energy production, provide energy support for low-income communities and clean energy job training.
The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019 is a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 763) that proposes a fee on carbon at the point of extraction to encourage market-driven innovation of clean energy technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The fees are recycled to citizens in monthly dividends. It is a novel concept with bipartisan support.
<In addition to governmental efforts, we the citizens can take step to reduce climate change. For example, we can calculate our household carbon footprint and then work to reduce our driving, heating, cooling, and other energy consumption.>
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?
The "graduated income tax" amendment is necessary but insufficient to address the state's fiscal crises. A flat tax is regressive because it hits poorer constituents harder than wealthier residents. The graduated income tax amendment is a structural change to our antiquated taxing policy. The federal government has had a graduated income tax for over a century. Most states that have a state income tax have a graduated tax. Our neighboring states of Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri are good examples.
Whether the graduated tax formula would reduce taxes as envisioned is hard to predict. As we know, the politicians have raised and lowered the flat tax rate numerous times over the years and they would continue to do so irrespective of whether the amendment passes or not. However, if additional revenues are raised through graduated tax formula, the additional income should be invested to reduce the property taxes and the billions owed for pensions and health care benefits of retired state workers.
As former Illinois Sen. Adlai Stevenson III put it: Only involved citizenry can change the culture of broken promises in Springfield. In this respect, my candidacy provides an option to the voters for a positive change.