Jeanette Ward: Candidate profile
City: West Chicago
Office sought: Illinois Senate District 25
Family: Married 24 years to Bill Ward, two daughters, Charlotte, and Cheyenne, ages 13 and 15, respectively
Occupation: Product manager for an international chemical company
Education: B.S. Environmental Resource Management, 1995, Pennsylvania State University; M.S. Environmental Science and Health, Option Environmental Chemistry, 1997, University of Nevada-Reno; M.B.A., 2003, Northern Illinois University
Civic involvement: From 2015-2019, I represented the community as an unpaid school board member for the largest elected school board in Illinois (U-46). During my term, I fought for many of the issues for which my constituents elected me to represent them, such as opposing the deconstruction of biological differences between men and women in access to private spaces and sports participation, better curriculum that avoids the presentation of one side of an issue as opposed to a full discussion of ideas to promote critical thinking, and strongly opposing a fellow board member who stated that the American flag was nothing more than toilet paper (who set a poor example of citizenship for our students). I also firmly opposed tax increases and voted no on every increasing budget and tax levy, particularly in the wake of declining student enrollment. I am also an elected precinct committeeman in Wayne Township.
Elected offices held: U-46 Board of Education member, 2015-2019, unpaid position
Incumbent? No. If yes, when were first elected:
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?
The Fair Maps initiative which gathered over 800,000 signatures, twice, in Illinois only to be struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court was a tragic injustice. As the minority opinion alluded to, it isn't right for the people to be denied an amendment to their own Constitution. The people have a right to choose their representatives, not the other way around. Fair Maps should be implemented either legislatively or through an amendment that voters decide. I have also signed and support the hopefully bulletproof current Fair Maps ballot initiative started by Peter Breen.
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?
Illinois gravely needs ethics reform since our state is known for corruption. Effective ethics reform in Illinois should include restrictions on state legislators or former state legislators becoming lobbyists, expansion of the Economic Interest statement to disclose theirs and their family member's financial involvements, allowing the Inspector General to act independently from the panel of state legislators from whom it must currently seek approval to open investigations, and requirements that legislators recuse themselves from votes for which they have a conflict of interest. I will enthusiastically introduce and defend bills implementing these reforms.
3. What should the state do to address the still-growing problems with its key pension programs?
Pension reform is the number one fiscal necessity as it currently consumes a quarter of the budget. Illinois has anywhere from $137 billion to $250 billion, depending upon the rating agency, in unfunded pension liability. While we must keep our promises to those who are near retirement age, we must also change our defined benefit system to a defined contribution system and ensure that double dipping is ended. This will require an amendment to the Illinois Constitution. If it is possible for Illinois to encourage small businesses in the private sector to assist their employees to begin saving for retirement, couldn't similar programs be implemented for government employees?
Yes, voters should and will have a say, as any amendment to the Illinois Constitution needs approval by a majority of voters. The question of political will should also be raised. The supermajority in the Illinois General Assembly had no problem erroneously amending the Illinois Constitution to establish a "lock box" for road funding; why was an amendment needed to simply do the right thing? Yet, they keep issues like pension reform and Fair Maps from reaching referendum for the will of the people to decide.
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 party is assisting my opponent. That alone should assure voters that I am an independent thinker. My party's leader in the Senate reportedly promised a fellow Senator a place on the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform as long as the fellow Senator didn't criticize the leader's work on promoting video gambling terminals in bars. I believe personal ethics should be above politics.
My party leadership advises those running for office to avoid talking about social issues, like abortion. I am outspokenly pro-life, and have been endorsed by all three major pro-life groups in Illinois -- Illinois Right to Life, Illinois Family Action, and Family PAC. My opponent did not fill out their candidate questionnaires.
Yes, I support term limits, most especially for majority and minority leaders in both chambers.
5. What should lawmakers be doing to stem out-migration from Illinois?
Illinois has one of the highest out-migration rates because it has the highest overall tax burden. Reduce the overall tax burden on our residents, young and old, so they won't be in such a hurry to leave Illinois. We also need to deregulate and create a business-friendly environment to attract economic growth. In addition, we must end corruption. The people of Illinois don't trust their government and grow more demoralized by the day. They don't believe their voices matter which is evident, since the final vote of a citizen is the one with their feet.
6. Do you believe climate change is caused by human activity? What steps should government be taking to address the issue?
As I hold two degrees in environmental science, while many claim that the science is settled and there exists an overwhelming consensus that global warming is occurring and is definitively man-made, I know that the nature of honest scientific inquiry on such a massively complex question is far from settled. What little temperature increase which may be occurring began before CO2 levels started increasing and the climate of the earth has gone through numerous cycles before the industrial revolution. Also, climate is influenced profoundly by factors on which humans have no influence, such as solar activity.
We must exercise extreme cautious in our regulatory intervention lest we stifle innovation and the advancement of our society through draconian measures based upon extremist views on either side of the debate while at the same time, exercising prudence in the stewardship of our environment as we continue to explore all avenues of energy production -- solar, wind, nuclear, etc. Fossil energy revolutionized western civilization and I am confident that innovation will carry us forward to a bright future.
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?
Illinois doesn't have a revenue problem; Illinois has a spending problem. The "fair tax" is anything but "fair" and gives the legislature a blank check to raise taxes on families who are already leaving Illinois in record numbers. It is absolutely laughable to believe that the "fair tax" will reduce taxes for 97% of Illinoisans. Even the Governor, who made this claim, walked it back shortly after he made it. Furthermore, the graduated tax will do little if anything to make up the budget shortfall. The $3.5 billion in "new revenue" has already been promised away several times over. It will in no way cover the state's debts. Major structural reforms are the only solution to what ails our State. I seriously doubt that, should the graduated tax pass, it would take long before the middle-income earners are targeted, since that is where the majority of the money is. Also, the "rich" aren't bolted to ground, and could join the tens of thousands of others who have exited Illinois.