Paul Leong: 2022 candidate for Illinois House District 81
Office sought: Illinois House District 81
Occupation: Financial Strategy & Planning Specialist, Government Business Solutions, Health Care Service Corporation (formerly known as Blue Cross/Blue Shield)
Previous offices held: Naperville Unit District 203 board member (2017-2021), Naperville City Council (2021-present)
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: Illinois needs to become more efficient with its spending so we can achieve real reform in the budgeting process.
Spending bills need to be reviewed thoroughly and in the daylight hours to enhance transparency and to give the public and legislators adequate time and opportunity to provide feedback and understand the implications of budgetary decisions. We need to reduce debt, including pension debt, in an orderly way by controlling spending.
I support term limits. I have seen the corruption that can result from lifetime politicians.
I would support granting the Legislative Inspector General more powers to investigate, subpoena, and bring to the light of day unethical behavior in the legislature.
We need to restore Illinoisans' confidence in our government through effective ethics reform legislation.
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: We need to better control spending and make existing spending more efficient so state government can do more with less.
Our tax burden is already too high, and residents and businesses are leaving Illinois as a result. Spending more does not always result in accomplishing more. Illinois debt, including pension debt, and the associated interest expense through Illinois' poor bond ratings need to be reduced and brought under control.
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: As a father of two, education is one of my top parental and legislative priorities.
As a former school board member, I know that simply spending more does not ensure academic achievement. We need to be more creative, innovative, and agile with our approach to educating students.
We need to encourage more accountability and partnering with parents, teachers, staff, school boards, and students. I attended public schools in Chicago from K-12 and I appreciate the value of those educational opportunities and understand the importance of fully funding the evidence-based funding model.
I support state funding for education as outlined in the Illinois Constitution, so every student has the opportunity to succeed.
Q: Do you believe elections in Illinois are free and fair? What changes, if any, are needed regarding election security and voter access?
A: Illinois elections are free and fair. As a former Chicago resident, I am well aware improvements can and should be implemented to gain more confidence of the public.
I am a supporter of common-sense reforms such as purging the rolls of voters no longer living in the state and removing deceased voters. I generally support voter ID laws, with provisions to allow for ID for those who cannot afford one, and signature verification for vote-by-mail. Every vote is important, and every legal ballot cast must be counted.
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: My understanding is the Supreme Court ruling has not changed any Illinois abortion laws.
As the father of a daughter who is a minor, I would prefer to be notified if my daughter had an abortion, and I support and respect other parents' rights to do the same, with protections for situations involving abuse.