Paul Kelly: 2022 candidate for Illinois Senate 9th District
Occupation: Health care executive
Previous offices held: Kelly ran unsuccessfully for the Glenview High School District 225 board of education in 2020.
Background: Born in Wilmette, graduated from Loyola Academy. Bachelor's degree in business administration from Marquette University, master's in business administration from Indiana University. Married with three school-aged children.
Why Paul Kelly is running for office: "I am running for State Senate because I cherish our communities, but believe we are heading in the wrong direction. We are paying more and more in taxes, higher fees for schools, but getting less value in return. Property tax increases are outpacing growth in home values, there is a lack of transparency on what is being taught in our schools, and teachers are increasingly being pressured to push a political philosophy rather than focus on the true building blocks of education.
"When I speak to people in our communities, parents and taxpayers have told me feel that they are not being heard -- that they don't feel they have adequate representation. Parents and citizens continue to pay more for education each year, yet their voice regarding school policy and transparency in curriculum is decreasing. Taxpayers and small business owners are struggling under burdensome taxes, regulations and mandates with no relief in sight. Crime is on the rise, and the SAFE-T Act will make it even more difficult for our police departments to keep our communities and families safe."
Reduce the tax burden: "We need to stop burdening our communities and small businesses with unreasonable or unnecessary taxes, and keep them in Illinois to help grow our economy ... We need real reform of the major cost drivers of our property taxes, stop raising taxes on our citizens, and accelerate growth for our economy."
• Illinois has the highest effective property tax rate in the country;
• Over the last 30 years, Illinois property tax growth has outpaced home values;
• Illinois is the No. 1 least tax-friendly state for middle-class families;
• Illinois has the second-highest gas tax in the country;
• Since 2019, Illinois has the slowest gross domestic product growth of all the states in the Midwest;
• In 2021, Illinois population dropped by 114,000, a record loss. Only New York lost more people on a percentage basis.
Help teachers and schools focus on the building blocks of education: "I believe that teachers and schools most often did the best they could to ensure they provided high-quality education through the remote learning environment brought on by the COVID pandemic. Parents, family members and friends stepped in to teach at home as needed. But remote learning can never fully substitute for in person education.
"Therefore, we would anticipate that math and reading scores could decline, and they have. So now more than ever, we need to double down our focus on the core curriculum of math, reading and writing. We need to support our teachers in their area of educational expertise. Teachers should not be mandated or coerced into driving political philosophies in the classroom.
"We need to increase parental and community involvement in education. Parents and communities should be involved in what schools teach, because they are paying for it. Parents and citizens need a better forum to discuss and provide feedback on school policy and the curriculum they are funding."
• Illinois spending per student has grown 70% from 2007-19, the highest growth in the country;
• At $16,227 per student, Illinois spent more money in 2019 than every other state in the Midwest;
• Support our teachers in their area of educational expertise;
• Teachers should not be mandated or coerced into driving political philosophies in the classroom;
• Sex education should not be part of the curriculum from kindergarten through fifth-grade;
• Children need to learn how to explore different perspectives, ideas and philosophies with an open mind, and develop critical thinking skills that will allow them to be successful in their future endeavors. School administrators should ensure this happens in an environment free of judgment.
Keep our communities and families safe: "Crime is on the rise, and if the SAFE-T Act goes into effect as it is currently written on Jan. 1, 2023, our communities and families will be even more at risk of both violent and nonviolent crime."
• Amend or repeal the SAFE-T Act to ensure we do not put our children citizens and communities at unnecessary risk;
• Work collaboratively with our police departments and communities to implement meaningful reform that does not make our communities less safe.