Democratic candidate for Illinois House (19th district)
Responses to our questions
Why do you think it has been so difficult for Springfield to get a balanced budget passed and signed?
I was voted Mr. Mustang at St. Rita High School in 1987 for showing the most school pride.
Do you believe the state budget can be balanced going forward without new sources of revenue?
Because we have a dysfunctional government that is more worried about getting reelected than doing the job they were elected to do. Our elected officials continue to cave to special interests instead of working for the people who elected them.
What new sources, if any, would you support? Please be specific.
Not as long as we have the same lawmakers in office we have today. The more we bring in, the more they spend.
Do you support a constitutional amendment favoring a graduated income tax? Please explain.
We need to manage our spending and waste first. Medicaid seems like the best place to start. Manage the system and remove those who are not eligible and reign in the fraud and we will save millions.
Please list five areas where you would cut spending.
No. It's just smoke and mirrors for another tax increase and not just for the "rich". Our leadership is the same leadership who more than doubled our spending and increased our taxes by 67% from 2003 to 2014. Their definition of "rich" would likely move frequently and include a large portion of the middle class.
Since the Illinois Supreme Court's 2015 decision tossing bipartisan pension reform, what can and should the legislature do to control pension costs, if anything?
Merging wasteful government agencies and managing Medicaid are two places to start saving money. I don't profess to know all the answers. There are many independent groups out there who analyze our budgets and have lots of great ideas. We just need to elect politicians who will listen and take action.
Should all new state workers be moved into defined contribution plans?
How can Illinois politicians ask working families to come to the table to renegotiate their pensions when they are collecting hefty pensions for what is essentially considered a part-time job? The system needs to be reformed, but it needs to be reformed in the right places. For example, a State Representative becomes eligible for pension benefits after just two 2-year terms in office. After four years in office the amount of time it takes to become vested a current legislator becomes eligible to receive a pension of 12 percent of his/her salary, along with 3 percent increases if retiring after age 60. That pension payout spikes to 27 percent of salary after 8 years of in office, 45 percent after 12 years of service and finally the maximum 85 percent after 20 years. Most if not all of them have full-time jobs and can invest as they wish to plan for their retirement. The complete elimination of pensions for elected officials must be the first step toward a good faith negotiation to reform the system. Elected officials should not be retiring on the backs of taxpayers and should not collect a pension at all. If elected, I will not accept a pension for the office of State Representative. Pension reform needs to start with our elected officials. Only then can we expect working families come to the table.
What should the governor do to control pension costs during union contract talks? What would you do?
This needs to be negotiated with the working families who would be impacted most. If there is a defined contribution plan that works and makes sense for these families, then yes. I have yet to see that plan.
Illinois lost more residents than any other state in 2016 and the trend appears to be holding for 2017. What is the No. 1 reason, in your opinion, for the exodus?
I like to make informed decisions. So it would be impossible for me to speculate as to what the Governor should or shouldn't do. I don't know what information he has to base the decisions he makes. I would gather as much info as I could, consult with those I trust and make my decision then.
What should Illinois do — via tax policy, spending or other policy means — to keep residents from leaving?
Taxes, taxes, taxes!
What should Illinois do to promote job creation?
We need to show them they are not just ATMs for reckless politicians. We need to hold the line on anymore tax increases, get Medicaid under control and eliminate pensions for elected officials. I'm sure there is a lot more, but this would be a great start.
Did you support the education funding reform bill that the governor signed in 2017?
In my opinion, the role of government is not to employ everyone, but it's to create a climate that allows business to prosper and hire everyone.
What, if anything, should the legislature do to help Chicago Public Schools?
Do you support opportunity scholarships included in the funding reform bill? Or will you try, if elected, to eliminate that program?
Of course we need to do what we can to help our public schools and that includes Chicago Public Schools. But the frustrating thing as that no matter how much money you throw at CPS, it seems to be wasted and mismanaged.
Should Illinois do more to regulate campaign fundraising? If so, what?
I do support opportunity scholarships.
What help, if any, are you receiving from your party and its leaders, including staff help, advice, legal assistance, money and resources? Be specific.
Absolutely! The amount of money spent on campaigns makes it hard for "Joe Citizen" to get involved. I'm doing it, and I realize this will be an uphill battle. But not many are willing to throw their hat in the ring because of the crazy amount of money spent on campaigns.
If you are an incumbent, give an example of a time you worked across the aisle on an important issue.
I am not a career politician, I am not from a family of career politicians, I am not a property tax attorney and I am not a yes man. So I am not receiving any help whatsoever from my party. Maybe the voters should seek out and vote for all the candidates who are not supported by the party.
If you are an incumbent, give at least one example of a time you did not vote with your party on a significant issue.
I am not an incumbent.
Do you support term limits? If so, will you commit to sponsoring legislation and/or lobbying your colleagues on behalf of a constitutional change?
I do support term limits. I know my opponent believes we already have term limits in the form of elections. But we all know with all the money spent, it makes it extremely difficult to get incumbents out of office. I believe we would attract a fresh new crop of talented individuals if we implemented term limits. They would be doing this for public service instead of a career that must be protected at all costs.
Do you support changes to the redistricting process? If so, will you commit to sponsoring legislation and/or lobbying your colleagues on behalf of a constitutional change?
The way these districts are gerrymandered is ridiculous. So yes, I support a change to the process.
Tell us a little about your family.
I have been married for almost 18 years, I have 3 children (2 boys and 1 girl) and we have lived in our community for over 18 years.
Tell us something about you that might surprise us.
I was voted "Mr. Mustang" at St. Rita High School. This honor is given to those who show the most pride in his school.