Eli Nicolosi: 2022 candidate for Illinois Senate 35th District
Office sought: Illinois Senate 35th District
Occupation: Owner of a Web & Graphic Design Agency
Previous offices held: Winnebago County Board, Winnebago County GOP Chairman (current)
Q: How well did the Illinois government respond to the COVID-19 crisis? What do you think should be done differently?
Not well at all. As a father of 4 children (3 of which are school-aged) I was appalled at how the state has handled our schools in general and this is one of the biggest reasons why I'm running.
School boards are elected bodies of local government, meant to put decisions about our children in the hands of parents and the community. The Governor massively overstepped his authority month after month dictating protocols to them, using the pandemic as a political weapon. I have been a strong proponent of more people getting involved and elected to our school boards to keep life-changing policies in the hand of parents who know our kids best, not politicians.
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?
Term Limits! My opponent has been in office for nearly 30 years and without an opponent in 10. He had originally ran on term limits in 1992, and like many others, used it as a campaign ploy. We are all human -- the longer we hold positions of power, the harder it becomes to realize the compromises that eventually come with the constant ego stroke.
I am firmly on record that I will serve no more than 1 map cycle (10 years). This gives me enough time to make real changes in this state and the voters 3 chances to vote me out if they don't like the job I'm doing. I will have this posted on my website prominently as well as a commitment to this.
To double down, I am going to take a page from Paul Schimpf's book. As Chairman of the GOP in Winnebago County, I am going to propose we add term limits as a party policy and will encourage other counties to do the same. Just because we cannot pass this into law yet doesn't mean we cannot hold ourselves to a higher standard.
Q: What should the state do to address the still-growing problems with its key pension programs?
As a Republican, I believe that we need policies that will put the state on a more sustainable financial footing. However, I also believe that benefits earned for work performed is an inviolable contract. That's why I'm committed to finding a balanced solution that protects retirees while also ensuring long-term program viability.
Several strategies could help. Increasing communication about how any pension changes could impact is critical. Establishing a clear plan for funding is also paramount. Revisiting the replacement of the current 3% compounding post-retirement increase with a measure tied to inflation could go a long way toward meeting obligations and keeping promises.
Another key is incentivizing employees to participate in 401(k)-style plans. We could avoid the exodus of workers who seek jobs elsewhere that have more attractive benefits. if we incorporate these strategies, we can give our retirees peace of mind while still ensuring our younger workers' security as well.
Q: Describe at least two circumstances in which you have shown or would show a willingness to act independently of the direction or demands of party leadership.
Locally, as Chairman of the Winnebago County GOP, after decades of stagnation, I have implemented new meeting policies that have brought us to new regions and encouraged member growth. While met with a small (but loud) opposition from the "old guard", it has been a resounding success -- winning a record number of recent elections and membership growth.
Statewide, I am running against a 30-year incumbent who has long worn out his welcome. Despite decades in office, the state GOP has persuaded many legislators to support him against their better judgment, indicating that "fewer opportunities" would arise if they did not.
Despite this, I'll continue to advocate conservative policies and values, stand up for what I believe in, and fight back against the old guard. I have been able to win elections and grow support among voters across the district, proving I'm willing to stand up for what is right, even if it means going against entrenched party norms to serve the people.
Q: What should lawmakers be doing to stem out-migration from Illinois?
If we want to keep people in Illinois, we need to start by making it a more affordable place to live. Our state has some of the highest taxes in the country and that means we must first find a way to lower our tax burden for individuals and businesses by working across the aisle instead of pointing fingers.
Second, we need to do better at creating job opportunities. That means strongly supporting businesses that are already here and encouraging new businesses to move in. We can do this by aggressively marketing incentives, reforming our regulatory system, and making it overall easier by streamlining unnecessary red tape and fast-tracking approvals.
Finally, we need to make Illinois a more attractive place to live overall too. That means improving our schools by allowing parents and citizens the freedom to run their local schools as they see fit, better investing in infrastructure, and most notably making our communities safer for our citizens, not criminals, by repealing HB 3653.
Q: Do you believe climate change is caused by human activity? What steps should government be taking to address the issue?
Despite the misinformation, the evidence for human-caused climate change is still quite inconclusive. Many climate scientists believe that natural factors like changes in the sun's output are massively responsible for a great deal of climate change. It's important to note that we are currently in the latest iteration of the de Vries 200-year Solar Cycle, and during each of these periods (about 2-3 decades), the Sun goes through a "quiet" phase with significantly reduced activity. This leads to a decreased shielding of the Earth from cosmic rays, which vastly impacts climate patterns.
By promoting policies that encourage business investments in renewable energy rather than focusing on fear-mongering and overspending, we can continue to strike a balance between different groups to achieve a sensible, shared goal as well as foster private business growth in Illinois at the same time.
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 you offer voters?
The "Millionaires Tax" or the "Billionaire's Tax" is a dividing message centered around taxes for those who are wealthy. They call it that because only rich people make over $1 million per year, but there have been proposals to put this new progressive income level into place with households making just $200,000 being considered 'rich'. At what point do we stop calling them greedy? Once these higher rates take effect, future legislatures and governors could decide that you too are "rich" -- and should pay more!
We have heard far too many promises from politicians who propose these "temporary" tax schemes. In reality though, when you take into account how large our government is (we lead the nation with 8,923 units) or how our debt continues to grow (over 60 Billion) the consequences have been disastrous. In the end, the size of our government, the debt that continues to rise, and the massive underfunded state employee pension obligations should be our only responsibility.