suntimes
BRISK 
Weather Updates

House of Representatives District 38, Democratic Primary

.

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
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Graham
  • [ + ]
    Riley
Graham
Birthdate: 2/5/1962
Occupation: Insurance Broker and Real Estate owner and property manager/Self and Henderson and Graham Investment Group L.L.C
Marital status: married
Spouse: Callie Graham

Education:

B.S. Business from Eastern Illinois University (charleston Illinois)
Thornwood H.S. (South Holland Illinois)

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Country Club Hills United Homeowners Associations( Board Member and former Vice President) N.A.A.C.P member ( former Chicago far south branch Vice President), Kevin Staple Foundation (founder and Director)

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

no

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

none

Riley
Birthdate: 3/4/1953
Occupation: State Representative, 38th District
Marital status: Single
Spouse:

Education:

Doctoral Study in Public Policy Analysis - University of Illinois at Chicago
Master of Urban Planning and Policy Analysis - University of Illinois at Chicago
Bachelor of Arts, Geography/Secondary Education - Chicago State University

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

-Member, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Theta Mu Lambda Chapter
- Member, Alpha Phi Alpha Charitable Foundation
- Member, Matteson Area Chamber of Commerce
- Member, Chicago Southland Business and Tourism Bureau
- Member, Chicago Southland Chamber of Commerce
- Board Member, Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra
- Vice-President, Unity Coalition of the South Suburbs
- Asst. Scoutmaster, Troop 185, Park Forest
- Executive Board, Calumet Council Boy Scouts of America
- Board Member, National Org. for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Illinois
- Board Member, The Link & Option Center Inc.
- Executive Board, College of Urban Planning and Public Administration Alumni Association, UIC
- American Institute of Certified Planners
- American Planning Association
- American Statistical Association
- International Society of Forecasters
- American Educational Research Association

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

Public Safety Commissioner, Olympia Fields – 1993 to 1995
Trustee, Olympia Fields – 1995 to 2005
Trustee, Rich Township – 2005 to 2006
Planning Commissioner, Park Forest – 2006 to 2007
Township Supervisor, Rich Township – 2005 to Present
State Representative, 38th District – January 2007 to Present

I was employed by Will County from 77 to 82, and by Cook County from 2002 to 2006.

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

I was employed by Will County as a Chief Planner/Deputy Director, and by Cook County as a Principal Planner. Son Albert as a Financial Analyst by Rich Township.

Campaign information
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Graham
  • [ + ]
    Riley
Graham

Campaign headquarters: 4920 lake court Country Club Hills Illinois
Website: www.CliftonGraham.com
Campaign manager: Ballard powell
Campaign budget: $10,000
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
self funded

Riley

Campaign headquarters: Citizens For Al Riley, P.O. Box 282, Olympia Fields, IL
Website: www.citizensforalriley.com
Campaign manager: John Moore
Campaign budget: About $50, 000.
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
IEA -$11,375, Illinois Trial Lawyers Assoc. -$4,500, IFT Local 604 - $2,750, Illinois State Medical Society -$1,500, AT&T - $1,500.

What are your top priorities for your district?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Graham
  • [ + ]
    Riley
Graham

1. Lower property taxes and placing a cap on property taxes
2. Continue education and techincal training facility couple with improving the primary and secondary schools
3. Work with local government in reducing wasteful spending and job opportunity when economic developement comes into the region.

Riley

To continue to assist in the physical, social and economic development of the district and the region. The southern suburbs generally have historically faced inequities in the distribution of resources and policy decisions that have not favored us. Through effective political and community leadership, the tide has started to turn in recent years; witness some of the accomplishments listed below. Some of those successes were accomplished both legislatively and extra-legislatively. At a minimum, I want to continue the development of efficient transit options for our residents. The South suburbs have the longest times to work of any region in the metropolitan are. That metric is both a proxy for the relative dearth of jobs in the region and sub-optimal modes of transit. Strengthening our local educational institutions includes continuing the fight for education funding reform. Doing so will address the inequities of school funding based on the EAV of the local school district, while lessening the reliance of local property taxes to fund our elementary and secondary schools. We must insure that local municipalities and other local governments have the state support that they reasonably can be given. That comes from developing legislation like a law that I enacted, Public Act 97-0094 which provides that non home rule municipalities can appropriate and expend funds for economic development purposes. It also includes continuing to to fight against reductions in measure such as the Local Government Distributive Fund. One of my strengths as an urban planner is my ability to work with local, county, state officials and constituents on substantive issues and to develop effective, pragmatic solutions. This I will also continue as a priority. I will also continue to advance legislation generally dealing with job training and development, consumer protection, elder fraud and abuse, child abuse prevention, mental health and developmental disability services, patients' rights, the needs of Illinois' returning service personnel and governmental efficiency.

What is your top priority for the state?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Graham
  • [ + ]
    Riley
Graham

Reducing wasteful spending and double- dipping jobs by elected officials and pension representatives. Introducing a tax on the financial service industry, Ex. Daily stock trade.

Riley

Some of my local priorities are also state priorities such as the reform of the education funding and tax systems. We also have to tackle the unfunded pension liability; a Sword of Damocles whose impacts are so pervasive through the fiscal landscape of this state and its workers. The seemingly intractable issues can be solved reasonably and intelligently. Doing so means discussion and analysis devoid of jingoism and political ideology; difficult to do in the current political climate. We can do it, however. More immediate is coming up with a fair, fiscally prudent budget for FY 2013. In these times of fiscal exigency, the concept of tying available revenue to a set of desired “outcomes” i.e. programs and projects makes all the sense in the world. I'm referring to our "Budgeting for Outcomes" model. One must remember however, that over 3 billion dollars had been cut from the state budget over the last two years prior to HB5424's passage. Earlier, I referred to prudence and pragmatism. This systems relies heavily on creating metrics which will effectively quantify the performance of a particular unit of service or program. One must also take care to apply qualitative evaluations of the budget at the same time. This is to prevent unintended consequences that “cuts by formula” might render, especially to human services, public safety or educational programs whose beneficial outcomes make be slower to discern. We have already seen this, witness the budget "redistribution" process that the General Assembly just went through. I will always work to insure that the budget of the state is not only fiscally prudent, but also meets the needs of all residents of Illinois. This is not a contradiction in terms or mutually exclusive goals, but something that I view as a responsibility of the legislative branch; that is, if we're all thinking about the good of the entire state.

For incumbents, please list your accomplishments. For challengers, what unique strengths would you bring to the job of state lawmaker?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Graham
  • [ + ]
    Riley
Graham

My unique strength is that I have been a laborer and supervisor in the manufacturing industry (union and non-union) and in the financial service industry as a representative and broker. I understand both sides of the those community and how it works. As a family man, small businessmen, and resident property owner I can relate to the high property taxes, educational down cycle and the effect it has on our community. Being a community Activist, and politically astute I know both sides of what our problems are and the possible answers. Wasteful spending and duplicating or overlapping service in the south suburbs is the major problem.

Riley

Some of the important regional development successes we have had, legislatively and otherwise include the Dixie Square Mall demolition and development project, the I57/I294 Bridge and Interchange projects and access road development in the Harvey Intermodal Facility project. Others include:
PA 96-1542; Created the Southeast Commuter Rail Transit District which will foster the development of the long proposed SouthEast Service Line running from downtown Chicago to the south eastern suburbs and terminating in Crete.
PA97-0094; Gives local municipalities additional ability to foster economic development in their towns
PA96-1323; Instructs County Clerks to provide a pamphlet describing the causes and effects of fetal alcohol syndrome with each marriage license, along with showing annual compliance to the Illinois Department of Public Health
PA 96-1245; Courts shall set aside a judicial sale if the owner proves that they applied for assistance under the Department of the Treasury's Making Home Affordable Program and the owner's property would have been sold in violation of the program's judicial sale requirements
HJR 92; Urges the Department of Human Services, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, and the Department of Public Health to assess existing State and federal assistance programs regarding the treatment and study of systemic lupus erythematosus.
PA 96-0012; Repeals Section 41 of the Metropolitan Transit Act; eliminates the 6-month notice requirement, and increased the likelihood of those filing legitimate negligence claims against the CTA have their day in court, and possibly be able to collect appropriate damages
PA 96-325; Requires the Department of Public Health to implement the Colorectal Cancer Screening and Treatment Pilot Program in areas of the State that have the highest incidences of mortality related to colon cancer.

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?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Graham
  • [ + ]
    Riley
Graham

I think reducing pension benefits for future hires but not present workers. Police officers and firefighters already are not paid enough and should not be a part of that. I also would include the teachers.

Riley

The state Constitution prohibits the reduction of benefits for participants in the state pension systems. There is no good reason at all, not even a political one, to pass a measure whose constitutionality is under this much scrutiny. This case would surely end up in a long, expensive battle in the courts SB 512, as proposed, cuts the benefits of current workers but would create instability in the systems generally as participants scurry around looking for other plans. HB 3813 was passed today and enacted, and there is some question about the constitutionality of that measure. Regarding police and fire, there is no reason to segregate by type of employment in any case; certainly, police and fire personnel deserve their pensions especially because of the risks that they take on the job. Everyone needs to step back and exhale. Let's face it, questionable activities of a few people sparked this legislation, in large part. Let's take care of that, and those people. These measures will certainly have unintended consequences - and do not even address the biggest issue which is the Leviathan-like unfunded pension liability. Let's be clear on this.

If you don't support a bill like SB512, how would you deal with the state's unfunded pension liability?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Graham
  • [ + ]
    Riley
Graham

It has been reported that pension abuse is rapid within the system. We have to clear up that abuse to truly find the true liabilty. The state has to operate within it financial means.

Riley

Let's see what happens with the new law. Much work went into all of these measures, though everyone could not agree. What was needed was more time, cooler heads, and all stakeholders at the table. That's a prescription for good policy analysis, such that mistakes are not repeated. I've always said, neglect of the pension system for decades got the State here, not the state workers. This is a big, seemingly intractable problem that won't be solved overnight. In addition, you cannot talk about pension reform in the absence of talking about concomitant revenue generation. The Governor is developing a task force to tackle these issues; a good idea. What will it take? I'm sure there will be many ideas. There is an escalator called the pension ramp that should be eliminated. Remember the song about owing the “company store”; you never recover. Possibly, a new, restricted purposes revenue source could be created to just for the pension liability. Flotation of pension obligation bonds is another possibility. Let's work on the problem however.

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?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Graham
  • [ + ]
    Riley
Graham

I would like the income tax increase to go away, but because of the state financial crisis it may have to be extended until other revenue is found.

Riley

Well, let's wait and see what the increase does to help the state's financial picture before we talk about extending it. Frankly, the 2% wasn't enough in my opinion, but it was what we could reasonably compromise on. Given an uptick in the nation's economic fortunes, the 2% increase could have much of its' intended effects.

Do you support any changes to the corporate income tax rate? Do you support any other changes to the state's business tax structure?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Graham
  • [ + ]
    Riley
Graham

Yes, it should be know up front and not flex when corporate attempts to move to other states.

Riley

No, no changes need to be made to the current rate as per the recent increase.

What should the state government do to create a more favorable business climate and to promote job growth?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Graham
  • [ + ]
    Riley
Graham

I believe that we should focus on education and techincal training. If we create a stronger qualified work force, jobs and businesses will come.

Riley

The General Assembly just made an action doing just that; the passage of the Sears/CME tax break bill. The Governor lat year negotiated with Caterpillar to recognize the benefits of staying in the state . Illinois is the fifth most productive state in the union. We are not Indiana, thank goodness, or any of the other surrounding states that tax the heck out services that we don't, for example. .Again, there is reality and ideology. A "tax loophole" or a "business support" depends on one's point of view. Whatever the case, there are many of them that businesses have at their disposal as a matter of course. In addition, when the state executes a project of any kind, whether it encompasses social services or IDOT road projects, in the main, it is not executed by state workers. Private or not for profit businesses benefit from them. The 31 billion dollar capital bill will benefit the people of the state, but the work will be done by private businesses. Sometimes, the truth hides in plain sight. Government projects are the lifeblood of private industry, locally, in the state and at the national level. It's too bad that many do not see public sector employment that way. These folks stimulate the economy by buying goods and services also. But, we and other states have cut the public workforce by millions. This is part and parcel of the dip of employment that we have seen at all levels. So, we should continue the march and provide all of the support that we always have and work with business groups along with labor and others to improve our business climate in this state.

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?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Graham
  • [ + ]
    Riley
Graham

We have to reduce the size of government. We must increase the sin tax and push gambling revenue returns to cater to these services. I believe in finding ways to increase revenue and do support borrowing to pay those bills.

Riley

Again, those were conscious decisions exacerbated by a former Governor's inactions that led us there. Many human services providers went out of business because of it. The impact is not just the eyesore of a shuttered facility, but the dearth of services that their loss has created. That is not to mention the losses to ancillary businesses that these kinds of actions create. As egregious as some see borrowing, it will have a discernable stimulative effect on all of these entities as they address their fiscal woes, as I've already mentioned. The state will not be hurt by the borrowing necessary to do this. No matter what one thinks of the recent tax increase, bond houses were salivating at the prospect of doing business with the state as a consequence of it. It would just be the most fiscally prudent thing to do.

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?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Graham
  • [ + ]
    Riley
Graham

Because of our past history of paying to play I believe we should not play a role in negotiating contracts.

Riley

Good topic for a Public Administration or Law class. I believe the measure was HJR45. I had a question on it on the floor of the House. I'm concerned about it from a separation of powers standpoint. In that we appropriate funds, one can say that we're already involved in the process. The ball is then in the Governor's court as he negotiates with the myriad unions who represent employees that are essentially under his supervision. I understand the history and some of the reasoning behind the resolution, but I would let the Executive Branch deal with those issues. The GA should play our normal "checks and balances" role.

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?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Graham
  • [ + ]
    Riley
Graham

I support expanded gambling in illinois and chicago. In the form of revenue sharing across the board. Ex. Chicago must also share with some of the suburbs.

Riley

I support the current proposal that Rep. Lou Lang has been attempting to advance in the House. As a matter of public policy it has currency as a means to fund capital, primarily. This current bill does that and much more, such as providing dollars for education and providing for some of our most indigent census tracts in the Chicago area. I do feel that this should be the end of expansion, period. I think that the goal of setting up a "Maginot Line" that can't be flanked from the surrounding states will be accomplished. This is especially the case with the proposed South Suburban casino. Any more expansion after that would see a condition of diminishing returns. Yes, I support a Chicago casino, especially with it's ability to capture out of state revenue.

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
  • [ + ]
    Graham
  • [ + ]
    Riley
Graham

As of right now, I seek no changes to the state ethics and campaign finance laws. I would support capping what stat party leaders can donate during a general election.

Riley

There can always be improvements, so this kind of legislation is always a work in progress. But, the reality is that the GA has passed sweeping reforms over the years addressing many ethical and finance issues. That's just a fact. I would amenable to the discussion of establishing a cap for state leadership contributions.

Would you back a constitutional amendment to shift from a flat income tax to a progressive income tax system?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Graham
  • [ + ]
    Riley
Graham

no

Riley

Yes. We a have to examine the entire tax system, this would be a good place to start.

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

Yes,we must reduce the adminstrative overrlapping and use the gambling revenue like we first introduced it.

Riley

Yes. It was called HB/SB 750, HB 174, SB 2288. Those bills represent about six years of trying to adequately and equitably fund schools, reduce reliance of local property taxation and many other things. These were great measures and great battles trying to get these passed. So, yes - I was a co sponsor of these. The recent tax increase should not obviate what these bills brought to bear. I hope that we can rework many of the aspects of these measures going forward, especially as we look at re-examining the tax code.

What is your view on gay marriage?
  • [ + ]
    ALL
  • [ + ]
    Graham
  • [ + ]
    Riley
Graham

I believe in ciivl unions . I still think marriage is between a man and a woman.

Riley

That it will not force a church or pastor to marry a couple that the church or pastor doesn't wish to.

The race
The candidates
Clifton Graham Jr
Al Riley
The district
Loading...
Loading...
Latest News Videos
© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.

Comments  Click here to view or make a comment