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Illinois House District 7, Democratic Primary

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The questions

All candidates were invited to respond to questionnaires, although not all chose to participate. Click on a candidate's name to see the unedited response to each question.

Biographical information & experience
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    Dempsey
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    Hoskins
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    Johnson
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    Welch
Dempsey
Birthdate: 9/28/1967
Occupation: Executive Director/Diamond Staffing
Marital status: single
Spouse:

Education:

Proviso West High School
Trition College
Catherine College BS
University of Phoneix

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

None

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

Board Member for Lindop 92 (Broadview)
Human Service in Commissioner in Downer Grove

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

No jobs with the Governement offices

Hoskins
Birthdate: 4/15/1971
Occupation: Law student (full-time)
Marital status: married 14 years
Spouse: Monique Hoskins

Education:

BA in Government (University of Texas at Austin, 1992)

Master of Social Work (Loyola University Chicago, 1999)

Candidate, Juris Doctorate (Loyola, expected 5/2012)

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Illinois Municipal League, West Central Municipal Conference, University of Texas Ex-Students Association, United Methodist Men, Proviso Township Democratic Organization,

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

Elected Commissioner in Forest Park in 2007 (served as Commissioner for Accounts and Finance 2007-2011)
Re-elected Commissioner in 2011 (currently serving as Commissioner for Public Health and Safety, term expires 2015)
Railsplitter Tobacco Settlement Authority (appointed to Board of Directors by Governor Pat Quinn, 2010)
employed by Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (2000-2006)
employed by Hines Veterans Hospital (clinical social work intereship, 4 months in 1998)
employed by Texas House of Representatives (71st Legislative Session 1990-1992)

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

n/a

Johnson
Birthdate: 8/17/1980
Occupation: Owner of Credit Chx Corporation
Marital status: single
Spouse: N/A

Education:

B.S. computer information systems from DeVry
real estate broker license, Triton Community College
credit expert, National Association of Credit Service Organizations

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

I volunteer for The Support Group, a youth mentorship program. I founded the Emergency Job Coalition, a new job readiness program. Member, Ethical Credit Repair Alliance.

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

I both worked in the district office of Rep. LaShawn Ford and I was the administrative assistant to the superintendent of Proviso Township High Schools.

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

See above. Nothing since 2009.

Welch
Birthdate: 2/6/1971
Occupation: Attorney at Law, Partner at Sanchez, Daniels & Hoffman, LLP, the largest minority owned and controlled law firm in the country.
Marital status: Married
Spouse: ShawnTe M. Raines-Welch

Education:

Graduate of Roosevelt Junior High School in Bellwood (7th District) 1985, Proviso West High School in Hillside (7th District) 1989, Northwestern University in 1993 with a BS in Speech, and John Marshall Law School graduate in 1997.

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

I belong to the Federal Trial Bar, Cook County Bar Association, Illinois Council of School Attorneys, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc and Prince Hall Mason Lodge number 1. I sit on the following boards: Des Plaines Valley Mosquito Abatement Board, PLCCA, Inc, Westlake Hospital and the Proviso School Board. I served as the founding chair of the Hillside Human Relations Commission.

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

I have been elected three times to the Proviso School Board, 2001, 2005, and 2009. I was appointed as the founding Chairman of the Hillside Human Relations Commission from 2000-2005. I have serve via appointment by the County Board as the assistant secretary of the Des Plaines Valley Mosquito Abatement Board. I have served as Chairman of the Westlake Hospital Board since 2010. I worked in the Cook County Public Defenders' Office as a law clerk in 1994. I worked as an assistant on the executive staff for Cook County State's Attorney Jack O'Malley in 1996. I served as the Deputy Chief of Communications at DCFS under current Sun-Times Reporter Maudlyne Ihejerica in 1997. I left after passing the bar exam to go into private law practice where I have been since 1997.

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

I have not had any personal contracts with government but my law firm has served and continues to serve many units of local government including the City of Chicago, Town of Cicero, Village of Broadview, Village of Bellwood, Village of Stone Park, Maywood SD89 and Bellwood SD88

Campaign information
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Dempsey

Campaign headquarters: 2329 S. 14th
Website: www.princessdempsey.com
Campaign manager: Charisse Weatherly
Campaign budget: $50,0000
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
2 year prior, SEIU Local 73 of $2,000.. This year, none at this time.

Hoskins

Campaign headquarters:
Website: www.roryhoskins.com
Campaign manager: Larry Shapiro
Campaign budget: $60,000
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
Kevin Conway, $2,500
Jana Bartlett, $2,000
John Kubricht, $1,280
Marc Hoskins, $800
Martin Tellalian, $750

Johnson

Campaign headquarters: 9161 W Cermak Riverside, IL 60546
Website: http://www.electbeyonca.com
Campaign manager: Carl Nyberg
Campaign budget: $60,000
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
No contributors over $500.

Welch

Campaign headquarters: 5101 St Charles Road, Bellwood, IL 60104
Website: www.chriswelch2012.com
Campaign manager: Linda Tyson, MPA (Campaign Chair and contact person for this survey)
Campaign budget: $150,000. To date, we have raised $92,300 and spent $30,000.
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
My brother Billy W. Welch donated $3,000, Proviso Junior Panthers donated $3,000, my dad Emanuel Welch donated $2,000, my wife donated $1,000, and several elected officials and businesses and unions have donated $1,000. All donations have been reported to the State Board of Elections by my campaign committee.

What are your top priorities for your district?
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Dempsey

Real Job Creation
2 Tax Relief
3. Rebuilding the Health Care System
4. Reforming State's Chronically Overcrowded Jail
5. Education Reform

Hoskins

Job creation and job training
Expanded social services
Flood prevention

Johnson

I have a plan to make a difference on the issues facing the communities of my district. My top three issues are: jobs, foreclosures and education.

Welch

JOBS
-Help create new construction jobs by supporting capital development plans for road construction and school renovation projects
-Support tax incentive programs for business owners to hire anyone that has been unemployed for more than six months
-Stop all Republican efforts that undermine jobs and pensions of working people
-Start a voucher program for displaced workers to find work or to stat on the job training
-Provide tax breaks for companies that start up, expand or relocate in economically disadvantaged communities


EDUCATION
-Provide full and equal funding of public education while making the cost of education less dependent on real estate taxes
-Support a tax swap that calls for an increase in state income tax to support schools while lowering property taxes
-Mandate that casino and lottery revenues go into the state's education fund
-Provide year round Day Care/Head Start programs to better prepare children for school
-Provide tuition incentives to recruit students into the teaching profession
-Make “Bring Your Parents to School Day” a statewide initiative

CRIME
-Close gun show loopholes and stiffen penalties on crimes committed with a firearm
-Oppose all efforts to pass conceal and carry
-Support programs like Ceasefire and other beat representative programs to make our streets and schools safe
-Support a state witness protection program for people who provide crucial testimony against major drug dealers
-Provide additional resources to any local school and not for profit organization that educates people on the dangers of drug use and abuse
-Mandate the sharing of information between local police and schools on gang related activity

HEALTHCARE
-Provide healthcare to all underprivileged children
-Provide low cost affordable healthcare to seniors through local health fairs at schools and senior centers
-Provide a discount prescription drug program so that Seniors have the medications they need
-Provide full funding for breast cancer research, mammography testing and Alzheimer's disease

CONSUMER PROTECTION
-Support legislation to strengthen the Consumer Fraud Act
-Protect my community and people across the state from being ripped off by car dealers
-Protect my community and people across the state from being taken advantage of by predatory lenders

What is your top priority for the state?
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Dempsey

1. Real Job Creation
2 Tax Relief
3. Rebuilding the Health Care System
4. Reforming State's Chronically Overcrowded Jail
5. Education Reform

Hoskins

Revenue

Johnson

To show people that government can make a difference in their lives. Government has the power to be a force to uplift the poor, the middle class and the people I call "the class formerly known as the middle class".

Welch

Changing the way schools are funded and eliminating the inequalities in education for our children, balancing the state budget and fighting for a progressive income tax rate and
fixing the state pension system that currently has an unfunded liability of more than $80 billion.

For incumbents, please list your accomplishments. For challengers, what unique strengths would you bring to the job of state lawmaker?
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Dempsey

As a state lawmaker I would eliminate the political influence in the hiring process that has obstructed the efficiency of State government and strained the morale of State employees. I will implement an independent agency-by-agency "desk" audit to determine the productivity, cost and benefit of each employee.

We must also end the practice of having vacant positions. The present system allows for abuse whereby money is transferred to other parts of the budget without full transparency. If a position is budgeted, then that position must be filled. If not, the position should be eliminated.

As State Representative for the 7th District , I pledge to re-organize the 7th District, instilling professional management and ending the patronage that has come to characterize the 7th Districts. Specifically, we need to address the ratio between managers and front line employees

In order to create a solid foundation for a fiscally-sound State health system, I will push for the independent Board of Directors to be made permanent. This is the first step in reducing the political influence that has been detrimental to the efficiency and morale of those health care professionals who work so hard to provide quality care.

I started my business back in 1990, as a small business owners, I believe a strong leader begin to build the job market in the area, and work within our school system to bring back work study programs, and shop, and cooking class for the youth to help create future business owners.

Hoskins

I worked in foster care as a caseworker for five years. I earned a masters degree in social work (Loyola); taking classes from 1996-1999 while working part-time for the Citizenship Education Fund and as a clinical intern (full-time for 4 months) at Hines Veterans' Hospital in Maywood. The psychiatric ward is a locked facility. These experiences provide me with a background in human services and psychiatric issues. After completing the MSW, I worked for 3 years for an accredited Head Start programs as the Health and Disability Coordinator. This experience gives me some knowledge of early childhood education. The program was accredited by the Illinois Association for the Education of Young Children. Later I worked for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (2000-2006), and then for a private sector economic development consulting firm. I have over 10 years of experience working in economic development and job creation. Since serving in local government I have had direct involvement in issues relating to fire safety, and emergency first responder issues (terror attack response planning). I currently serve as the commissioner in charge of code enforcement issues in Forest Park. Therefore I have both state and local government experience. In Texas, I worked in the 71st Legislative Session for a freshman state representative from 1990-1992 (25 hrs/week). Based on this experience, and my experience advocating for Forest Park, I think I have some understanding of the legislative process. In conclusion, I believe that my experience in a state agency and my experiences in the private sector and in local government have prepared me to serve in the Illinois House.

Johnson

I have built a successful business, not from going to school for an MBA and getting a bunch of investors to buy into an idea. I did it old school. I learned skills. I organized a business. I did the work of obtaining customers. And when the business grew, I hired people to work for me.

But being successful isn't unique and it doesn't necessarily translate to government and politics. What does translate is being able to develop a plan and execute.

Building a business is tough, sometimes scary. There are things I'm good at and things where I need the skills of others. What I've learned from business is that the world needs people with courage to have a vision. And to execute the plan to fulfill the vision requires humility to balance the courage. I have to be willing to ask for help.

I hope that's what I bring to the table. I see the need for having a plan to realize the vision and having the follow through to execute the plan. I believe I have more vision than my opponents in the Democratic primary. And I have a track record of executing on my plans.

Welch

As founding Chair of the Hillside Human Relations Commission, I created Hillside's annual Martin Luther King Day Breakfast and created the Chairman's Award
As Assistant Secretary of the Mosquito Abatement Board, I assisted the agency in expanding while maintaining balanced budgets since 2004
As President of the Proviso School Board, led the effort which balanced the budget for the first time in over a decade for 4 consecutive years
Created a state-of-the-art magnet high school which, is rated one of Illinois' top schools
Hired an award winning Superintendent after an exhaustive nationwide search
Established a district wide free breakfast program to help needy students perform better
Created a district wide transportation program to eliminate attendance problems
Tightened campus security and installed hundreds of security cameras
Cracked down on out of district students which saved Proviso Township millions of dollars
Conducted Proviso High School's first ever Town Hall Meetings in every village
Renovated athletic facilities at both high schools
Developed the “Parent Connected” program which allows parents to use their home computer to track their child's attendance and academic progress
Initiated “Bring Your Parents to School Day” that attracts hundreds of parents to campus
Toughened Academic Requirements by replacing soft classes with advance subjects

The state public employee pension system is severely underfunded and paying down the debt threatens to crowd out spending on core state services. Do you support reducing pension benefits not yet earned through a bill like SB512, which offers state workers three options for earning future pension benefits. Should police officers and firefighters be included in a reduced pension system?
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Dempsey

Would like to have time to review the SB512 before responding to this questions?
However, I do believe if we control some of the Alderman salary and cut back will will not have to reduced the penison..

Hoskins

Employees work a lifetime expecting to retire with dignity. I don't believe that it would be fair to take away bension benefits that have already been bargained for by current state employees. I could consider looking at the three option included in SB 512 with respect to benefits offered to future public employee hires.

Johnson

The starting point for discussing pensions should acknowledge a few points.

1. State and local government employees' pensions aren't augmented by include Social Security like private retirement plans.
2. The employees paid their contributions; it was the state (management) that shortchanged the pension fund.
3. The politicians, the media, the union officials and other insiders colluded to raid the pension funds and keep it secret from taxpayers and government employees how much money was being diverted.

A wise candidate recently observed, “The solution to the pension problem is going to be ugly because the problem is ugly.”

Cutting the pensions of state and local government employees is different than cutting the pensions of workers who have Social Security as their base pension.

I'm for keeping everyone as part of one pension system. (Arguably this means we should transition to having state, municipal and other government employees as part of Social Security in Illinois.)

When everybody is part of one pension scheme, then everybody stands shoulder-to-shoulder in defending the pension system from attacks by the rich people who want to undercut the economic security of the middle class.

One thing I will always remember, the workers paid into the pension system as required by state law. If there's a shortfall in the pension system, it's the fault of the politicians, the media and the union officials, not the workers.

Because I oppose dividing workers and playing them against each other, I support keeping all workers in one pension system—one system that provides secure retirements for all our government employees.

Welch

I am opposed to SB 512 or other similar efforts to reduce pension benefits for
current public employees. I do not believe that we should reduce the $80 billion unfunded
liability on the backs of state and university employees and teachers. The decision not to pay what was owed was made by state leaders and not employees or teachers. Therefore, it is not fair to make them pay for decisions they did not make. Police officers and firefighters should NOT be included in a reduced pension system.

If you don't support a bill like SB512, how would you deal with the state's unfunded pension liability?
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Dempsey

Need time to review.. please read above

Hoskins

I could support refinancing existing debt, and an extension of the temporary tax increase. I would support a measure to institute a progressive or graduated income tax system for Illinois. I would most enthusiastically support measures to make Illinois a more attractive state for business investment. This could be done by enacting new economic development incentives, that are graduated in value based on whether investments are made in targeted areas.

Johnson

In primaries older people make up a much bigger chunk of the electorate than in general elections. And in general elections older voters are over-represented relative to the voting age population and way over-represented relative to the population as a whole.

I'm going to go out on a limb and advocate something that has political risk, but strikes me as the fairest solution. Illinois should tax retirement income―preferably on more affluent retirees―to plug the gap.

Older voters elected the governors senators and representatives that shortchanged the system. Older voters should pay to fix the problem they created.

Welch

I do not believe that we should reduce the $80 billion unfunded liability on the backs of state and university employees and teachers. The decision not to pay what was owed was made by state leaders and not employees or teachers. Therefore, it is not fair to make them pay for decisions they did not make.

We know that the level of Illinois benefits is only average compared to other states, considering our level of wealth. Therefore, I do not believe further reducing benefits will solve this issue. Instead we need to focus on increasing revenues by establishing a progressive tax rate. I believe we need to follow President Obama's idea which requires the top 1% to pay a higher rate.

Do you want the 2 percent point income tax increase to expire in 2014, as planned, or would you like to see the tax increase extended beyond 2014?
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Dempsey

I'm running for State Representative with 7th District because I believe government should uphold two basic principles: provide the best services and do so as effectively as possible. Right now, State government is failing on both accounts. First, as State Representative, I will move to repeal the sales tax increase, and work hard to decrease the overall sales tax - while also bringing down expenses by cutting wasteful spending and eliminating inefficient programs. The State provides too many critical services and opportunities for our community to be stalled by the waste, fraud, and abuse of the current State government.

Hoskins

The tax increase could be extended

Johnson

What I want is what everybody wants. I want the economy to improve and create good paying jobs. If the economy is functioning properly, there is less demand for state services and more revenue coming into state coffers.

If unemployment is still over 8%, I'd rather keep higher taxes than engage in another round of cutting services.

I seek to represent a number of communities and diverse communities. I am particularly concerned about Maywood, Bellwood and Broadview. I do not believe that these communities will remain healthy with unemployment staying high. Unemployment is not spread evenly across the United States. African-Americans, Latinos, young people and people with less than a bachelors degree have much higher unemployment rates. That's my state representative district, at least in the three communities I mentioned.

I will not settle for some vague answer about ”it can't be helped”. Bullshit. We can do better.

If unemployment comes down, I hope tax rates can come down. If unemployment stays high, we need to tax rich people to create jobs for the middle class. If that makes me a radical, write that I'm a radical who will fight for my district, including Black, Latinos, young people and people with less than a bachelors degree.

Welch

I would oppose an effort by the General Assembly to immediately roll back the recently enacted increase in the corporate tax rate. It takes about 5 years for an economy to come back after it crashes (2008-2013). Also, it takes an additional 5 years for the economy to bounce back after a real estate market collapses (2014-2018). Subsequently, we may not experience a significant economic recovery until 2018. I would not recommend that we consider rolling back the rates until after 2018. More importantly, I believe we should not consider rolling back rates just for corporations. We should also make the same consideration for individual rates.

Do you support any changes to the corporate income tax rate? Do you support any other changes to the state's business tax structure?
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Dempsey

I believe that in order to bring big compaines back we need to give a 10% deduction in taxes and if Dupage county, will county who is currently having the lowest business taxes. In Cook County, we need to see what measure of spending is taking place and do a pilot program to not only win the business and the real job creations, but increase are values within our community.

Hoskins

I would support an extension of the temporary tax increase, but I think that making it permanent could discourage business investment.  When I worked as an incentives consultant for KPMG, I became familiar with how several other Midwestern and southern states market their locations to large companies.  I would support a measure to institute a progressive or graduated personal income tax system for Illinois.  I would enthusiastically support measures to make Illinois a more attractive state for business investment in order to broaden the tax base.  I would like to see our state adopt new economic development and tax incentives, that are graduated in value based on whether investments are made in targeted areas.  For example, states including Georgia and Tennessee offer statutory tax credits that increase in monetary value when a company invests in areas that have disproportionately high levels of unemployment or high levels of poverty.  Additionally, some states have offered refundable tax credits to encourage investment in targeted industries.  Illinois could benefit by considering limited use of refundable or transferable tax credits.  Measures such as these will encourage companies and site selection consultants to take a closer look at Illinois.

Johnson

I favor passing a bill that repeals every tax exemption until Illinois enacts a graduated income tax.

If the Chicago Mercantile Exchange has the muscle to flip state legislators, let's use that power for promoting a fairer tax system, not giving hundreds of millions to hundreds of millionaires.

Welch

In January of 2011, the General Assembly--on a strictly partisan Democratic vote--passed and the Governor signed into law the Taxpayer Accountability and Stabilization Act (P.A. 96-1496), which raised just over $7 billion in new, annual recurring revenue. After January 1, 2011, Illinois' flat income tax temporarily increased from 3% to 5% and the corporate tax rate temporarily increased from 7.3% to 9.5%. In addition, the law suspended the net operating loss deduction for four years. The corporate income tax rate is scheduled to drop to 7.75% in 2015 and then drop back to the original 7.3% in 2025. The individual rate will drop to 3.75% in 2015 and then decrease to 3.5% in 2025.

I support these changes to the corporate income tax rate. Furthermore, I believe these changes should be made permanent in order for the state to adequately fund education, public safety and human services and pay its pension debt obligations in the future.

What should the state government do to create a more favorable business climate and to promote job growth?
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Dempsey

Again,.. Lower the Taxes.

Hoskins

Based on my six years of employment at Illinois DCEO, I would like to see Illinois use its existing economic development incentives to attract companies who are not currently investing in Illinois, and to retain jobs that are not yet created. This could be done by incentivizing companies to hire by making available incentives for green jobs creation, and other underutilized tools. Illinois should extend the Enterprise Zone program. For example, we kept Electro Motive Diesel in LaGrange by offering tax credits in return for the company's promise to retain the existing jobs. The package also included enterprise zone benefits such as the investment tax credit.

Johnson

I'm exasperated that the Sun-Times chose to word this question this way. It seems more like a Chicago Tribune question.

Both the state and federal government have passed or enacted a wide variety of policies to give money to rich people since 2008 in response to the “economic crisis”. Have these policies produced middle-class jobs? Or more demands by rich people to get more preferential treatment?

The give-money-to-rich-people policies have succeeded in making rich people richer, but they've failed to bring employment to levels that are acceptable for Maywood, Bellwood and Broadview.

Both the United States and the State of Illinois provide a favorable climate for doing business. What it doesn't provide is demand for goods and services at a level that causes rich people to shift their investments from the financial sector to companies that provide goods and services to the middle class.

To the extent Illinois doesn't provide a favorable climate, it's because other states, like Indiana, enact laws that bias the economy against workers and consumers. I'm proud that Illinois allows workers to form effective labor unions and I'm proud Illinois has laws that protect workers and consumers.

America is great because we have a strong middle class. I will not apologize for being pro-middle class, not today, not because it will get me an endorsement, not ever. I'm in politics to make a difference in the lives of the people in my communities, particularly the people struggling.

I will not back down. I'm for regular people. We live in a rich country. What we need is more demand for goods and services by middle-class consumers with good jobs at good wages. Bribing corporations with “incentives” has not provided economic uplift to the people of my district.

Welch

Providing more incentives and tax breaks to companies that locate their businesses in disadvantage areas is always a good way to partner with business. Also, creating incentives for these same businesses to train the local residents would certainly assist in putting more people back to work.

Lay out your plan for paying the billions the state owes schools, universities, human service providers and others. Would you support borrowing to pay down those bills?
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Dempsey

I will reduce our reliance on outside law firms. Currently, 7th District spends roughly $8-9 million to hire outside lawyers to defend State employees in lawsuits. While some of these cases require outside lawyers due to inherent conflicts of interest, there are many other cases - worth millions of dollars - that can be covered by the State's legal services. As laid out in the Compact for Change, I will support the Commissioner's effort to implement and develop the Conflict Council, which is comprised of County attorneys who report to, yet operate separately from, the State's Attorney's office. The Conflict Council is dedicated solely to taking on lawsuits against the statey in which there is a conflict between parties of the School or State. This is one way to ensure that the State is conducting its business more effectively and efficiently; the Conflict Council incurs only a fraction of the cost required to pay outside firms.
Additionally, implementing drug courts has proven to be an extremely cost effective alternative to incarceration. Chicago Metropolis 2020 reported that "imprisoning those convicted of non-violent drug offenses costs Illinois taxpayers an estimated $240 million a year." The same report found that for every $1 spent on drug treatment, $7 is saved on crime, prison and health related cost.

If we reduce some of the fees for elected officials and other government job and reduce several position that have titles but not job description. we would save over millions of dollars

Hoskins

I support re-financing the existing debt

Johnson

I work at a credit repair business. I'm confused? flummoxed? by the idea that borrowing solves Illinois problem of not paying the bills. Ultimately the borrowing has to be paid to. Borrowing might make sense in the short term; it might not.

The bills have to be paid.

Borrowing might serve to pay those bills in the short term, but there has to be revenue to pay the debt incurred by the borrowing.

I favor the federal government taking the action necessary to increase the employment rate.

The solution to government revenue shortfalls is to 1. grow the economy by increasing the number of middle-class jobs, & 2. taxing the capital class and top earners.

Welch

Going further into debt is not the answer. I think a better solution would be to change our state's tax structure from flat to progressive. Our state's tax system is unfair and inefficient. Subsequently, it is impossible to raise enough revenue to adequately fund schools, state services, etc. Moreover, I am also concerned that large wealthy corporations do not pay their fair share. Illinois has put off paying its bills on everything from health care to pension contributions. By the time taxes were finally raised in 2010, the state was in a deep fiscal hole. At the same time, Illinois is one of the lowest spending states on vital public goods, such as health care, education, and human services. It is unacceptable that our tax system places such a disproportionate burden on working families who struggle to make ends meet.

State legislative leaders are trying to give the General Assembly a role in negotiating contracts with state labor unions. What is your opinion of that?
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Dempsey

State Legislative government and its hiring process lack both transparency and accountability. If we are going to negotiating contracts then we need to eliminate the political influence in the hiring process that has obstructed the efficiency of State government and strained the morale of State employees. As well as, there should be no State Labor union allowed to contribute to any campaign of either party.

Hoskins

The Legislature's place is to make laws. It was not intended to negotiate contracts with labor unions. Negotiations are an executive function, but the legislature could set bargaining parameters.

Johnson

My opinion is that there's too much blurring of who is responsible for what in government.

The legislative branch should approve budgets. The executive branch should represent the State of Illinois to third parties, like labor unions.

But the real world isn't that simple. The voters elect multiple constitutional officers who have their own agendas. The governor signs contracts that impose obligations on the legislature—and future legislatures. The governor had power to engage in amendatory vetoes that make him a legislator, a particularly powerful one.

It seems reasonable for the legislature to be “in the loop” when negotiating future obligations. I also favor reducing the power of the executive to write whole new laws under the power of the governor to make an “amendatory” veto.

As long as I'm in the legislature, expect me to stand for a strong legislature and weak executive. However, I am a huge fan of President Obama ;-)

Welch

I would support this effort if we could be sure that working families would receive a fair deal. Furthermore, I am more inclined to oppose having legislative leaders become negotiators of contracts. My concern is that it would make this an even bigger political endeavor. Perhaps something of this magnitude would be better addressed by the appropriate representatives

The legislature has tried repeatedly to expand gambling in Illinois. Do you support expanded gambling in Illinois? In what form? Do you support a Chicago casino?
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    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Dempsey
  • [ + ]
    Hoskins
  • [ + ]
    Johnson
  • [ + ]
    Welch
Dempsey

No, I do not support it..

Hoskins

I recognize the need for new revenue. Increased gaming is a proven source of revenue. I support a Chicago casino. I could support slot machines at racetracks. Whatever gaming bill is passed should include safeguards to protect the integrity of the system, and should provide resources to protect individuals who are at risk for compulsive gambling or other self-destructive behavior.

Johnson

I support creating a sustainable economy that produces goods and services for middle-class citizens and provides jobs to middle-class citizens to provide these goods and services. I am skeptical that casinos are part of this vision without some additional mechanism that moves the money from the rich people who own the casinos to the middle-class people who patronize them. And I don't think hiring barmaids and blackjack dealers captures much of the money for middle-class citizens.

Welch

Yes, I do support expanding gambling in Illinois and I also support a Chicago casino. However, I think it must be mandated that any new casino revenue must be allocated directly to education.

Would you seek any changes to the state ethics and campaign finance laws? Would you support capping what state party leaders can donate during a general election?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Dempsey
  • [ + ]
    Hoskins
  • [ + ]
    Johnson
  • [ + ]
    Welch
Dempsey

Yes, there be a cap on the all elections

Hoskins

I could support stronger ethics laws. A good starting point would be the most recent report issued by the ethics commission.

Johnson

I am responsible for me. Here's what I am telling my constituents.

Right now, I am running as an outsider. I am raising money from any legal source. Once I get the nomination, I am going to assemble a team of experts to create a set of rules I will observe about my own fundraising.

I am going to have strict rules about what campaign contributions I will accept after winning the Democratic Primary. I am leaning toward refusing all contributions by PACs, politicians (from outside the district), lawyers (who bill government) and lobbyists. I want to be accessible and accountable. I want to show it can work. I want to inspire others to expect more of themselves and their elected officials.

Welch

I support the recent changes that have been made to the state ethics and campaign finance laws. I would like to consult with community stakeholders and democratic leaders regarding additional changes and capping donations during general elections.

Would you back a constitutional amendment to shift from a flat income tax to a progressive income tax system?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Dempsey
  • [ + ]
    Hoskins
  • [ + ]
    Johnson
  • [ + ]
    Welch
Dempsey

Again, my tax statement is above.

Hoskins

Yes

Johnson

Yes. And I will tell you my plan.

I will write a letter to Speaker Madigan and President Cullerton requesting a vote on amending the Illinois Constitution before September 1, 2013. I will ask every member of the Illinois General Assembly to sign my letter with me.

I want it to be crystal clear which members of the General Assembly favor a graduated income tax and which don't. I trust the voters to hold legislators accountable through democratic processes. Voters can see who joined me in calling for a vote on amending the Illinois Constitution. And voters will be able to see how legislators voted on the amendment.

Welch

Yes, I Absolutely would support shifting to a progressive income tax system for the reasons stated above.

Do you have a plan to adequately fund schools and reform the property tax system that results in inequities?
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    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Dempsey
  • [ + ]
    Hoskins
  • [ + ]
    Johnson
  • [ + ]
    Welch
Dempsey

Yes, we need to stop paying legal fees for board members and/or giving promotions to none performing school. My plan would be that the treasurer office would pay directly for supplies and any need material for the school. We having given board a blank check and we need to end it. There is no accountabilitiy with in the school systems.

Hoskins

I believe that the current school funding system places an unfair burden on homeowners and working families. Enacting a progressive income tax would dramatically impact how we fund schools. Raising income taxes in exchange for lowering property taxes is an attractive and fair option.

Johnson

I'm going to answer this question in two parts. First, I'm going to tell you my plan for improving education in my communities. Then I will respond to the particulars of the question.

_Beyonca's plan for the communities of the district_

More people need to get involved in education. There needs to be a plan that motivated parents and taxpayers can join and use their energy in a productive manner.

This plan comes from my personal commitment to improving three school districts that I will represent: Bellwood School District 88, District 89 (Maywood & Melrose Park) and Proviso Township High Schools. However, I believe the plan will strengthen all school districts where it is implemented.

Two types of citizen organizations are needed to hold school districts accountable.

There needs to be watchdog groups that go to board meetings and report on relevant happenings. This would be like the League of Women Voters observer program or traditional journalism, but with more passion and expertise.

Second, there needs to be a group of concerned citizens who recruit and vet school board candidates who are independent of local political organizations and then do the work necessary to elect these independent candidates.

When machine politics takes over the school districts, educators, students and parents become demoralized and the quality of education plummets. By machine politics, I mean a clique of people who gain a majority of votes on a school board and then use this majority to give money and jobs to their political allies who then use these money and jobs as the resources for the next political campaign. This is what my opponent Chris Welch has done both as an elected official at Proviso Township High Schools and as an attorney at Bellwood School District 88.

My campaign is collecting the names and contact information for the people who will form the organizations that expel the machine politics from our schools.

_Responding to the particulars of the questions_

If elected, I will represent a large number of school districts. I will have constituents who pay taxes to Oak Park & River Forest High School, Lyons Township High School and Proviso Township High Schools. I will represent taxpayers from even more elementary school districts.

What do these three high school districts have in common? All of them have high per pupil spending compared to both statewide averages and suburban Cook County averages.

What else do they have in common? With the exception of one, they are all well regarded public high school districts.

I support state government supporting schools in accordance with the principles of the Illinois Constitution. I disagree with the premise of the question for a global reason and a local reason.

I support equality before the law strongly. It's a major reason I find two-tiered pensions for public employees so offensive.

But it's absurd to use the word “equity” in when discussing education if you accept the system of primarily using property taxes to fund school districts.

Instead of striving for “equity”, we should strive for providing a “quality” education to all. People move to River Forest because they want to pay more property taxes for the right to send their children to Oak Park and River Forest High School. I love that people have this commitment.

The problem with education is not that OPRF and LT need to be made equal to Proviso Township High Schools. The problem is that every student at every public school needs a quality education on his or her own terms. Proviso is clearly failing a large number of its students.

To improve the quality of education, I have a plan that can be implemented at the local level by someone willing to provide leadership.

Welch

Our school system is fundamentally flawed. We have segregated schools that are based on socio-economic status. I strongly believe that our system for funding schools violates the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. the Board of Education, which outlawed segregated schools. The fact that we have a state promulgated system (funding based on property taxes) makes our entire school system heritability racist.

My plan is a multifaceted approach which will also assist in lowering property taxes. First, we shift from a flat income tax to a progressive tax. This will allow us an opportunity to collect more revenue dollars without placing the bulk of the burden on the backs of working families. Second, the State Board of Education must come up with a formula that will disburse funding in a much fairer way. Third, the state must mandate that revenue dollars are actually appropriated to schools, such as, the revenue source pertaining to the Illinois Lotto.

What is your view on gay marriage?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Dempsey
  • [ + ]
    Hoskins
  • [ + ]
    Johnson
  • [ + ]
    Welch
Dempsey

I have no view on that.

Hoskins

I support the rights of lesbians and gays to have the same rights as other consenting adults including the right to marry.

Johnson

My view on a wide variety of political debate on social hot button issues, like gay marriage is that it is a distraction.

The people in power keep rolling out new things to get voters riled up about: flag burning, guns, gays, school prayer, blah blah blah blah.

While the politicians and media have these debates, government passes one bad economic policy after another where the capital class can behave badly and get huge returns doing it and the middle class is stuck with higher taxes, more debt and inferior government services.

I support consenting adults being able to marry whomever they choose because marriage is between the people getting married. The state should accommodate itself to the realities in people's lives. Trying to make some marriages less than others is petty and mean. It's also impractical. Gay couples need the same sorts of services from government as other couples. It creates more problems to create two classes of citizens.

Welch

I support legislation to allow same-gender couples to legally marry. Also, I am opposed to a constitutional amendment that would prohibit recognition of civil unions or marriage between same-gender couples.

The race
The candidates
Princess C. Dempsey
Rory Hoskins
Beyonca Johnson
Emanuel "Chris' Welch

Not pictured:
Sherby J. Miller

The district
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Updated: February 22, 2012 2:25PM



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