Juan Thomas: Candidate profile
Office sought: 83rd House District
Occupation: Lawyer, ordained minister
Education: JD; master's in educational policy from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana
Civic involvement: Details at www.juanthomas.com/about/
Elected offices held: West Aurora school board, Aurora Township clerk
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?
Yes, I support the Fair Map amendment. Elected officials should not pick their voters. Voters should pick their elected officials. This will make general elections truly competitive and make candidates have to campaign in all communities. Unfortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the gerrymandering is constitutional. Our system is fundamentally flawed when politicians pick their voters instead of voters picking their elected officials. I would favor a process that truly created community boundary districts that are truly competitive for both political parties in general elections. Most districts are only competitive in the primary. Also, the amount of money needed to run for office is outrageous and until this is fixed, the system will not change.
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?
Springfield needs to be cleaned up. If elected, I will introduce legislation that will do the following:
1. Ban state legislators from lobbying the Illinois General Assembly once they leave office for five years.
2. Ban House and Senate staffers from lobbying the Illinois General Assembly once they leave their job for three years.
3. Ban state legislators from lobbying local governments while they are in office.
4. Ban all elected officials from holding two public offices at the same time.
3. What should the state do to address the still-growing problems with its key pension programs?
Here is the reality. The past funding of our pensions, the current funding of our pensions, and even the future proposals to fully fund our pensions will not and have not adequately funded our state pensions. This is tragedy of broken promises. Pensions are a promise that must be honored. If a person works for 40 years believing they will get a full pension when they retire, we have an obligation to that person and their family to honor their service. Given the seriousness of our state's $137 billion pension deficit, I believe voters and perhaps young union workers who will be greatly impacted by this deficit, should have a say I how to best fix this problem. I also believe legislators should be under the same plan as other public employees in the State of Illinois. Legislators should not have a retirement plan any better than of public employees in Illinois.
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?
This video on my campaign Facebook says it all:
Yes, I support term limits for majority and minority leaders because we cannot continue business as usual. We need new and fresh ideas to address the needs of families in Illinois.
5. What should lawmakers be doing to stem out-migration from Illinois?
Pass real property tax relief, fix our public-school funding crisis, invest in the areas of our state where there is high crime and poverty. We should also become the tech state capital of the Midwest. (Become a "Smart State")
6. Do you believe climate change is caused by human activity? What steps should government be taking to address the issue?
Climate change is clearly a very real issue and has to be addressed. The state should partner with those in the sciences to see what actions should be taken to address these issues. The state should also partner with industry to develop new forms of solar, wind and clean renewable energy.
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?
While I generally support the Fair Tax Plan, I believe many Illinoisans are skeptical if the money will truly be used to fund public schools or fix the state's pension crisis. Our state government has made promises before that have been broken. The lottery money was supposed to be used to fund public schools and it was not.
I believe that the Fair Tax Plan should have been tied to real property tax relief. If I was in Springfield, I would have insisted that the Fair Tax Plan be tied to real property tax relief. If I win the primary, I will spend the summer and fall educating the residents of my district about the impact and expectations of the Fair Tax Plan.