Reform First

We must renew peoples’ faith in government. Illinois must shed itself of its unfortunate reputation as a corrupt state.  There are ways we can and must change!  

Term limits: Illinois has a sad history of protecting incumbents to the point where new candidates with new ideas have no chance of ever being heard.  This essentially creates an oligarchy of elites who keep power for decades. This is bad for democracy. Period. If elected, I will push for term limits, both for legislative leadership positions and for legislators in general.  

Special elections: In the event a political vacancy occurs, voters—rather than party bosses—should vote for their elected officials. Appointments mustn’t happen behind closed doors in smoke filled rooms by those already in control. If offered an appointment to fill the seat vacated by Sara Fiegenholtz, I will reject it, and I call on others in the race to do so as well.  

Recall elections: I support allowing the recall of elected officials indicted for crimes or ethics violations.  I also believe that those officials who are convicted should lose whatever state pensions they had.  

Culture: We cannot allow a culture of bullying, sexual harassment, intimidation or misogyny to fester in our Capitol or anywhere throughout our state. Recent efforts at strengthening protections for state employees and recent extensions to the private sector are a step in the right direction but such protections must include both mandatory training and a robust public education component, which are critical in order for people to take advantage of strengthened rules. Laws are not enough, however. A cultural shift is needed in order to stop the chronic problem of employee abuse. This takes a public conversation and recruitment of business leaders to be a part of that conversation.

Campaign Finance: I strongly disagree with the Supreme Court decision to allow unlimited corporate contributions to campaigns. I support limits on corporate contributions, and believe we must work to place a cap on the amount of contributions political parties and leadership can provide to a campaign. Ideally, we should have public financing of campaigns, so that politicians can focus on the issues, rather than having to pander to monied interests to fund their campaigns.  

Gerrymandering: A system where politicians pick their voters and not the other way around is not healthy for democracy or good for its citizens. While I recognize the importance of making sure minority voices have representation, we can achieve that without also designing districts with the goal of protecting incumbents.  Independent boards have been shown to work in other states, and we should adopt a similar system in Illinois.  

Lobbying reform: Sitting legislators have a duty to represent their constituents.  When they are lobbyists at the same time, they face an inherent conflict of interest that may cause them to favor the lobbying firm that is paying them more over the benefit of their constituents.  We should ban elected officials from being lobbyists or “consultants” at the same time as they hold office. Elected office is a privilege, dedicated to service, not a vehicle to enrich the legislator.  

Strengthening Inspector General’s office:  Illinois has a Legislative Inspector General (LIG) who is supposed to act as an independent check on the members of the legislature.  Unfortunately, their position has been rendered far less effective and independent than it needs to be. When complaints come into their office, the LIG is supposed to investigate the claim, determine if it has merit, and then prepare a summary report for merited complaints.  Under the current system, however, before they can begin the investigation, issue subpoenas, or draft a report, the LIG is required to report to a Legislative Ethics Commission (LEC), which is made up of legislators… the same legislators that are being policed by the LIG.  Those legislators then have the ability to deny the LIG’s request to open an investigation, issue a subpoena, or publish a founded summary report. This creates an inherent conflict of interest that serves to protect legislators from oversight, which must be addressed. The LIG should be able to (within their jurisdiction) open investigations, issue subpoenas, and publish summary reports of founded violations without needing to ask permission from the very legislators (or their friends) who are being investigated.
  • Overview
  • Term limits
  • Special elections
  • Recall elections
  • Culture
  • Campaign Finance
  • Gerrymandering
  • Lobbying reform
  • Strengthening Inspector General’s office

We must renew peoples’ faith in government. Illinois must shed itself of its unfortunate reputation as a corrupt state.  There are ways we can and must change!

Term limits: Illinois has a sad history of protecting incumbents to the point where new candidates with new ideas have no chance of ever being heard.  This essentially creates an oligarchy of elites who keep power for decades. This is bad for democracy. Period. If elected, I will push for term limits, both for legislative leadership positions and for legislators in general.

Special elections: In the event a political vacancy occurs, voters—rather than party bosses—should vote for their elected officials. Appointments mustn’t happen behind closed doors in smoke filled rooms by those already in control. If offered an appointment to fill the seat vacated by Sara Fiegenholtz, I will reject it, and I call on others in the race to do so as well.

Recall elections: I support allowing the recall of elected officials indicted for crimes or ethics violations.  I also believe that those officials who are convicted should lose whatever state pensions they had.

Culture: We cannot allow a culture of bullying, sexual harassment, intimidation or misogyny to fester in our Capitol or anywhere throughout our state. Recent efforts at strengthening protections for state employees and recent extensions to the private sector are a step in the right direction but such protections must include both mandatory training and a robust public education component, which are critical in order for people to take advantage of strengthened rules. Laws are not enough, however. A cultural shift is needed in order to stop the chronic problem of employee abuse. This takes a public conversation and recruitment of business leaders to be a part of that conversation. We must also lead by example, and to this end, I will develop a comprehensive training and reporting system that I will make available to fellow legislators.

Campaign Finance: I strongly disagree with the Supreme Court decision to allow unlimited corporate contributions to campaigns. I support limits on corporate contributions, and believe we must work to place a cap on the amount of contributions political parties and leadership can provide to a campaign. Ideally, we should have public financing of campaigns, so that politicians can focus on the issues, rather than having to pander to monied interests to fund their campaigns.

Gerrymandering: A system where politicians pick their voters and not the other way around is not healthy for democracy or good for its citizens. While I recognize the importance of making sure minority voices have representation, we can achieve that without also designing districts with the goal of protecting incumbents.  Independent boards have been shown to work in other states, and we should adopt a similar system in Illinois.

Lobbying reform: Sitting legislators have a duty to represent their constituents.  When they are lobbyists at the same time, they face an inherent conflict of interest that may cause them to favor the lobbying firm that is paying them more over the benefit of their constituents.  We should ban elected officials from being lobbyists or “consultants” at the same time as they hold office. Elected office is a privilege, dedicated to service, not a vehicle to enrich the legislator. 

Strengthening Inspector General’s office:  Illinois has a Legislative Inspector General (LIG) who is supposed to act as an independent check on the members of the legislature.  Unfortunately, their position has been rendered far less effective and independent than it needs to be. When complaints come into their office, the LIG is supposed to investigate the claim, determine if it has merit, and then prepare a summary report for merited complaints.  Under the current system, however, before they can begin the investigation, issue subpoenas, or draft a report, the LIG is required to report to a Legislative Ethics Commission (LEC), which is made up of legislators… the same legislators that are being policed by the LIG.  Those legislators then have the ability to deny the LIG’s request to open an investigation, issue a subpoena, or publish a founded summary report. This creates an inherent conflict of interest that serves to protect legislators from oversight, which must be addressed. The LIG should be able to (within their jurisdiction) open investigations, issue subpoenas, and publish summary reports of founded violations without needing to ask permission from the very legislators (or their friends) who are being investigated.