Donald R. Walter: Candidate profile, Illinois State House -- 83rd District
Donald R. Walter, a Republican from Aurora, is challenging incumbent Barbara Hernandez, a Democrat from Aurora, in the race to represent District 83 in the Illinois General Assembly in the Nov. 3 general election.
Walter is a sales associate with the Augustine Institute. His community service includes serving as an Aurora boys baseball coach, parish council president, co-president of St. Vincent DePaul and an election judge.
To explore his campaign website, visit votedonwalter.com.
District 83 includes parts of Aurora, North Aurora and Montgomery.
The Daily Herald asked the candidates a series of questions. Here are Walter's responses.
For complete election coverage, visit dailyherald.com and click on "Election Central."
Q: Should Speaker Madigan resign from his leadership positions? If he does not resign, will you support him for a new term as House speaker?
A: Yes, he should resign. It's clear to most everyone that the distraction of possible indictments is hurting the state's ability to act with the trust of its citizens. It takes a sense of what's best for the state. No, I do not support Speaker Madigan for another term.
Q: 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.
A: First I do not feel compelled whatsoever but to follow and represent the needs and demands of our district. The perceived or be it real independent actions: the path to citizenship for immigrants takes far too long. Especially for those who have complied by entering legally and have done all the right things. Term limits is the other.
Q: How would you rate the governor's handling of the COVID-19 crisis? Does the legislature need to have more input and influence in establishing rules and policies related to stemming the spread of the disease? What would you have done differently, if anything? If nothing, please say so.
A: Below average because of that very thing, the legislature was not involved with the decisions. We should have had the regional approach sooner and the unequal restrictions placed on different entities like small businesses versus big box stores was unfair. The variety of restrictions made it seem like there were different COVID-19 viruses, one for small business, one for large stores and so on.
Q: Regardless of whether the federal government provides assistance, what is the impact of the pandemic on the state's economic outlook and what immediate and long-term actions should be taken to address it? Would you support increasing taxes to pay for COVID-19 response or to make up for lost revenue related to COVID-19?
A: The out migration of Illinois actually increased even more from the state, the loss of jobs increased unemployment costs, mortgage defaults increased, and more. But these things were already a growing concern for Illinois and the solutions are still the same.
Cut taxes, as even then-Senator Obama said never increase taxes during an economic downturn. The second, CARES money should once again go to the people and small businesses of our district to grow economic activity from the bottom up, not the top down approach. We should have gotten more money from Washington before the pandemic hit. Illinois is among the lowest states in terms of the return on our tax dollars sent to Washington.
Q: 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 be given to voters?
A: The initial promise of tax relief is so small that it wouldn't make an impact. Eventually as with other states with a graduated income tax they eventually increase the brackets to include middle income earners. Also there is no promise of property tax relief tied to the bill which is the number one concern I have heard from our district.
Q: Do you support any type of tax on retirement benefits?
A: No, we need to keep our retirees here.
Q: Should Illinois prohibit lawmakers from lobbying other levels of government? Should lawmakers be prohibited from becoming lobbyists after their term in office? For how long?
A: Yes. Yes, a minimum of two years.
Q: What are the most important components that should be included in legislative ethics reform? What will you do to help them come to pass?
A: Term limits, abolish gerrymandering, disclosure of outside income, lobbying limitations, censure, and possible removal. Working across the aisle is needed to get this done. Getting elected itself would help balance the power in Springfield to get this done.
Q: What should the state do to address the still-growing problems with its key pension programs?
A: We do need to honor the pensions already in place. It's the right and just thing to do. Consolidate school districts to lessen the number of future pensions, possibly switch to a 401(k) retirement solution. Limit future auto increases.
Q: Do you believe climate change is caused by human activity? What steps should state government be taking to address the issue?
A: Human activity is not the main cause but can contribute to it. We should strive to have clean air and clean water, which goes hand in hand with pollution control. Also help downstate to convert away from fossil fuel to renewal energy or nuclear.
Q: Protesters have massed in the streets in Chicago and other cities across Illinois for greater social justice and changes in the funding and responsibilities for police. How significant a role does systemic racism play in limiting equal opportunity in Illinois? To the degree that it exists, what should be done about it? What, if any, changes should be made in funding and duties of police?
A: Measuring systemic racism by our country's founding rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness we have a long way to go. The right to life of black babies has been targeted by Planned Parenthood from its inception and the numbers bear that out.
Black maternity care has dismal comparison to that of whites. Our incarceration rates for blacks is higher for lesser crimes, is too high compared to whites, and leads to loss of jobs and family stability. Give more opportunities of school choice to pursue their dreams and job opportunities to stabilize families is the answer.
Safety is a key issue for all families. An emphasis on community policing in our district led to no homicides in 2012. We need to continue and emphasize that philosophy of reaching out to the community to dialogue and to understand what we expect from law enforcement and what they need from us to keep us safe.
Now as a result of the attacks on our police we need to be sure they are given counseling to cope with the extra stress that has built under the current atmosphere of confrontation instead of cooperation. Less funding is a terrible idea for both the police and citizens.