Lauren "Laurie" Nowak: 2022 candidate for Illinois Senate District 24

  • Lauren "Laurie" Nowak is a Democrat running for Illinois Senate District 24.

    Lauren "Laurie" Nowak is a Democrat running for Illinois Senate District 24.

 
Updated 11/1/2022 11:59 AM

Bio

Party: Democrat

 

Office sought: Illinois Senate District 24

City: Bartlett

Age: 35

Occupation: Graduate Student: Dual Master of Public Policy & Administration

Previous offices held: DuPage County Board

Q&A

Q: What needs to be done structurally to make the legislature more effective? What is your position on term limits in general and for legislative leaders specifically?

A: I believe in putting the will of the public ahead of political agendas, special interests, misinformation, and big donors. I support the 2017 Senate Resolution on leadership term limits.

Term limits have nuanced pros and cons; they alone will not fix corrupt/complacent officials. They may remove effective leaders with institutional knowledge and stakeholder relationships, and could have unintended consequences, leveraging power to lobbyists with more understanding of the system relative to fledgling legislators.

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Institutionalized transparency that makes issues accessible in an unbiased, digestible way to an inclusive, objectively informed citizenry makes government effective. I support advisory referendums to increase accountability and support public interest.

Comprehensive campaign finance reform is long overdue. Money begets money and power begets power, so it's difficult for unbeholden individuals outside of the system up against unreasonably disproportionate financial backing.

Q: Federal assistance has enabled the state to make important advances toward improving its budget. What will you do to ensure these advances continue when the federal aid is gone?

A: The budget is a reflection of our values. I am running to alleviate pressure on the middle class, working families, and fixed-income seniors. I will scrutinize spending of taxpayer dollars, demand ethics reform, make smart investments, and hold politicians accountable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

If the budget didn't pass, we couldn't have spent these funds. We must act to invest in infrastructure and finish rebuilding after the catastrophic economic damage and 8 disastrous downgrades caused in 20 months by Rauner in great economic times (vs Pritzker's 6 upgrades in a pandemic). Rauner's reign incurred tons of late payment interest penalties, and the $16.7 billion unpaid backlog hurt business and critical services with a 210 days lag on paying bills, vs 12 days under Pritzker/Mendoza. We now have 1 billion in the rainy day fund, pre AARPA, vs less than 60k under Rauner. We must stabilize/fund lawfully due pensions. Unlike my opponent, I will participate in the budget process and bring funds back to the district.

Q: To what extent are you happy or unhappy with the evidence-based model for education funding now in place in Illinois? How would you define "adequate" state funding for Illinois schools and what will you do to promote that?

A: Evidence-based funding passed with a large bipartisan majority in both houses in 2017. Unfortunately, the State does not yet fund education to the 90% adequacy level. Even with investments of an additional 350 million dollars a year, we won't hit the 90% adequacy for 20 years. As State Senator, I will work to cut bloated administrative costs that do not improve education, while fighting for children, schools, teachers and support staff - which is why I am endorsed by IFT and IPACE/IEA. The constituents of the 24th district deserve a Senator who will actively engage in the budget process, not sit back and criticize as my opponent did.

Q: Do you believe elections in Illinois are free and fair? What changes, if any, are needed regarding election security and voter access?

A: DuPage Clerk Jean Kaczmarek has expanded free, fair, secure access through initiatives like vote anywhere with upgraded machines, permanent vote by mail, and more early voting. Illinois is now the model for the nation in cybersecurity by directly printing each voter's ballot, which cannot be subject to electronic tampering.

As an election judge I saw overzealous challenging of mail-in ballot signatures, disproportionately impacting elderly and minority voters. Judges must fairly apply the rules and voters must know their rights on issues like same-day registration, provisional ballots, returning vote by mail ballots, and casting a ballot if they are in line in time. I would like to support highly skilled election judge captains at each polling site.

We cannot have truly free and fair elections when local politicians think the rules don't apply to them. We need elected officials who protect democracy, not disregard it.

The election was not stolen.

Q: How well has Illinois responded to Supreme Court indications that it considers abortion, gay marriage and other social issues to be state, not federal, responsibilities? What if anything needs to be done in these areas and what would you do to make your vision come to pass?

A: Illinois continues to be a leader in individual rights. The government shouldn't impose or encroach on issues like a woman's right to make her own medical decisions or for two adults in love to marry. I support these efforts and will continue to support these efforts as a State Senator. If the judicial branch of the federal government continues to attack and diminish the rights of our residents, the state has an obligation to enact laws that protect and defend our fundamental right to freedom and privacy, not undermine them.

I don't think someone who supposedly supports "smaller government" should be working to infringe on the rights of others and bring government in where it doesn't belong, but my opponent opposes marriage equality and women's autonomy, refused to support contraception rights, refused to rule out criminal penalities for rape victims seeking medical care, voted against HB 40, and supports unsafe, undue burdens on medical facilities.

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