Position sought: State Senate, District 42
Family: (did not answer)
Education: BA National College of Education (now National Louis University)
Occupation: State Senator District 42
Political Party: Democratic
Previous Elected or Appointed Offices: Kane County Board (Elected 2004, resigned January 2007)
Is there any additional experience you believe qualifies you for the position?
My background has been ideal for preparing me for the challenges and issues I face in the Illinois Senate. I was a small business owner for twenty plus years and community advocate sitting on numerous committees. I was the first woman president of the Chicagoland Chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). I was also a free-lance columnist for the Aurora Beacon from 2001 to 2009. In addition, I was a Kane County Board member from January 2005 until I was elected to the Senate in January of 2007. I have a business and management background rather than a political background. As an example, one of the most important bills I passed last session was SB3794 creating the Financial Reporting Standards Board Act.The Auditor General’s report last year found that the state’s current way of financial reporting is comprised of over 250 different, costly accounting systems. And over 80% of the outdated systems were not compliant with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), which are used to compare expenses and income, among other things. Those factors had generated untimely financial reporting of the true financial position of the State, harming the State’s bond rating and jeopardizing federal funding opportunities. I worked with Senator Tom Johnson to draft legislation to begin addressing this situation. We held hearings during the past year and drafted legislation with the Comptroller’s office and input from the Auditor General that will insure that state agencies complete and submit an initial audit to an advisory board. Agencies will be assisted during the GAAP process and will prepare and submit the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report on a timely basis as required by law. This bill demonstrates both fiscal management and my ability to work with my counterparts on the other side of the aisle.
What would your priorities be if elected to this office?
My priorities continue to be getting our fiscal house in order, creating a business friendly environment in the State, enhancing education to benefit our future and continuing to explore and advance innovative opportunities. As an example, I think we need to develop a serious model for private/public partnerships. I was the Chief sponsor of SB 621, now Public Act 97-0097, which created a partnership school between Aurora University and the four school districts (districts 129, 131, 204 and 308) in Aurora. The school will serve approximately 500 third-through-eighth grade students with an academic proficiency in math and science. We created the vehicle and now the college is raising the funds through local businesses. We at the state have a commitment toward education of our residents and the local businesses desire a skilled workforce. Working together, this can be achieved without the financial burden on the state and taxpayers. We need to continue to explore and develop creative options like this.
What sets you apart from the other candidates?
I have not heard any positions or policies from my opponent. However, my strengths include my business background which has led me to introduce and pass legislation to help job creation in Illinois. I have several endorsements from various groups and organizations which I believe is because I am a consensus builder. I can work with both sides of the aisle. I am approachable and very accessible. I have a reputation for my “open-door” policy. In my elections I have knocked on thousands of doors to talk with voters and offer them the opportunity to know me and speak out on issues important to them. My financial background and credit scores, personally, are exemplary and I feel that same fiscal responsibility is needed as we address the States' budget.
What should first be done by the state to keep businesses that have strongly voiced the possibility of leaving, such as CME and Sears?
CME - which has a data center in Aurora - is vital to Illinois jobs and economic competitiveness. For this reason I supported House Bill 1883 to modernize business taxes in Illinois and keep CME Group and Sears from leaving the state. A smart corporate tax code which accommodates the business model of companies like CME will raise adequate revenue and keep Illinois business competitive.
What can be done to help College Illinois?
In an age when college tuition increases consistently outpace inflation, College Illinois! can be a powerful tool to help make college affordable to more families. However, we must not let our families down by making risky investments which have led to a large unfunded liability in the program. If we are going to market this program to get more families involved, it is our responsibility to ensure good oversight and prudent investment. We must also look to similar, and successful programs in other states to see how best to strike a balance between strong returns on and stability in the investments made by Illinois parents.
What should the government do to create more jobs?
By creating targeted incentives for hiring the state can promote job growth at a minimal cost. This is why I have supported initiatives such Senate Bill 3241, which offers businesses a tax credit for hiring unemployed veterans. Other tax credits, such as the Small Business Jobs Credit, EDGE Tax Credit, and Research and Development Tax credit will encourage hiring and help bring new business to Illinois. Infrastructure investment is another area where the state can facilitate job creation now, and give the broader economy a boost and increase Illinois’ competitiveness through the creation of superior infrastructure.
What are your philosophies on social issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion, and what should government’s role in those issues?
I believe that the legal definition of marriage should not impose any requirements on the sex or gender of the two adults who marry. The government should not recognize one set of rights and benefits for opposite-sex couples and another, circumscribed, set for same-sex couples.
I am strongly pro-choice. Decisions on how to treat a pregnancy should be a private matter between a woman and her doctor, in line with Roe v. Wade and state laws enacted pursuant to Roe. Government-funded health insurance plans should provide women with access to a full range of reproductive health services.
Do you support a gaming bill that would increase the number of casinos or other gambling venues in Illinois? Should a casino be built in Chicago?
In the Chicago suburbs alone we have five riverboat casinos (2 Joliet, Aurora, Elgin, and DesPlaines), and that is probably enough. I think we have reached a saturation point with gambling venues in the Chicgo suburbs and expansion will not create any new economic activity, just shift it around. This is why I have voted against both gambling expansion bills during the current General Assembly. I do believe that a Chicago casino is an option worth exploring.
What do you suggest for property tax relief?
Illinois needs to fund services in a more equitable way which is less burdensome to local taxpayers. I believe that a constitutional amendment for a graduated income tax would be a step in the right direction towards a fairer and more efficient tax system for Illinois.
Should the state consider consolidating school districts? What would be the best way to accomplish this in your legislative district?
I was a Senate sponsor of House Bill 1216 to create a school district realignment commission. With 868 school districts, there appeared to be a serious need to consolidate in order to put more money in the classroom, rather than in the offices of bureaucrats. An independent commission, such as the one outlined in H.B. 1216 can undertake a serious study of the issues involved to determine how to best combine districts to serve students and taxpayers while avoiding potential disruptions for parents, students, and teachers. I sat on the School Consolidation Commission, spearheaded by Lt. Governor Sheila Simon, and we talked to residents and stakeholders throughut the state. We found that many districts were practicing cost savings by consolidating purchasing powers not only with other districts, but with local government entities. Because the communities in Illinois are so diverse, I do not feel we should mandate consolidation across the State, but we should incentivize it for those communities and districts that feel it could be beneficial.
Should the state legalize marijuana?
Smarter enforcement and penal reforms should be pursued at the local level. It is unclear what the point of putting thousands of people in jail for minor drug offences has been, but clearly such policies have been costly to enforce, and have probably made things worse by turning minor offenders into hardened criminals. This is an issue that requires further study by drug enforcement and social service agencies so we can determine the best and most efficient manner in which to deal with minor drug offenses.
Are there ways to reform the legislative scholarship program, or would you support calls to eliminate the program?
I supported House Bill 3810 which abolished the legislative scholarship program. Once the problems with the program surfaced, I opted out of the program. Prior to that, I had set up an independent committee to find qualified recipients for the program, rather than awarding scholarships according to my own whims. I was sorry to see the program go for the many deserving students in my district which could have benefitted, however, until we can insure scholarships are awarded fairly it needs to be elminated.
Who are your political heroes and why?
President Abraham Lincoln is my political hero. President Lincoln was a true statesman and one of the most iconic Presidents this country has ever had. From time to time, our elected officials are tasked with making the tough choices that may not be the most popular, but will ultimately serve the best interests of the people we are elected to represent. President Lincoln knew this all too well, and he made the tough decisions because he felt they were the right choices for our country and all those who lived here. He made these tough choices even though he knew he might lose half the country before things began to get better. President Lincoln made the tough choices that the people elected him to make, and ultimately the country was better off because of it. I am proud to be a resident of and to serve the state known as the "Land of Lincoln".
Have you ever been convicted of a felony, sued successfully or had a restraining order placed against you? If so, please explain.