On Sept. 28, Daniel Didech appeared before the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. Watch the video above to find out why he’s running for the Illinois House of Representatives in the 59th District in the 2018 general election.
The Chicago Sun-Times also sent the candidates seeking the 59th District Illinois House seat a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing their district and the state of Illinois. Didech submitted the following responses:
Please explain what cause or causes you will make priorities.
Didech: My top priorities are reflective of the concerns I hear most from residents when I walk door-to-door: middle-class tax relief, healthcare, and jobs.
Skyrocketing property tax bills and an increase to the state’s income tax have hurt middle-class families, while misguided efforts, like the Cook County Beverage Tax, hurt small business owners. Excessive taxes are driving residents out of their homes and out of our community, which is why we need immediate relief. Property tax relief will be my first priority in Springfield, just like it was when I was elected Vernon Township Supervisor and I cut the township’s property tax levy by over 5% during my first year in office. Not only should we freeze rates, we should look to actually lower them by expanding exemptions for all homeowners. Additionally, I believe we can find cost-savings by consolidating some redundant and unnecessary local government units.
In the wake of continued efforts by Donald Trump to reshape healthcare and dismantle the Affordable Care Act, it is important that Illinois takes active steps to ensure that all of our residents have access to affordable healthcare. I applaud the implementation of House Bill 2959, which will prohibit health insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions. I also support a public health insurance option that would allow every Illinois resident the opportunity to buy low-cost health insurance. This type of proactive thinking will continue to be necessary as long as President Donald Trump and his allies refuse to prioritize the health and well-being of all Americans.
Finally, Illinois needs to do more to attract and retain jobs. I support encouraging economic growth by extending investment grants and increasing tax credits for small businesses. We should invest in companies that choose to invest in our communities, which is why I also support requiring corporations to return taxpayer-funded incentives if they choose to shift jobs overseas or out of state.
Please list three concerns that are highly specific to your district, such as a project that should be undertaken or a state policy related to some local issue that must be changed.
Didech: Reducing the tax burden on middle-class residents is a major concern for my community. We can help address this problem by freezing property tax rates, expanding exemptions for property tax homeowners and consolidating local governments. I am also open to supporting a fair, progressive tax system that will require millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share, while reducing income tax rates for middle-class families.
We have to do more to support small business formation and growth. As someone from a family of small business owners, it is disheartening that there are so many empty storefronts in my district that could serve as attractive locations for entrepreneurs looking to start a business. The passage of Rep. Carol Sente’s bill to reduce LLC fees was a great step forward on this issue, and I look forward to continuing her legacy of promoting small businesses in my district.
Additionally, my district has transportation needs that I will be fighting for as a state representative. The state should do more to support para-transit services so our residents with disabilities and seniors have the resources necessary to work, run errands, and attend doctor appointments.
Who is Daniel Didech?
He’s running for: State Representative — 59th District
His political/civic background: Vernon Township Supervisor
His occupation: Municipal Attorney
- Adlai E. Stevenson High School — graduate
- Roosevelt University — Bachelor of Arts, History
- Valparaiso University — Law Degree
Campaign website: www.danieldidech.com
What are the most important differences between you and your opponent?
Didech: The most important difference between myself and my opponent is our records. As Vernon Township Supervisor, I lowered the township’s property tax levy by 5%. I did this by reevaluating all contracts and expenditures, identifying alternative sources of revenue so the township is less reliant on property taxes, and ended the irresponsible practice of awarding lucrative contracts to politically-connected firms. While cutting taxes for every Vernon Township resident, I also improved the services we provide for the community by modernizing the township’s food pantry and instituting a STEM after-school program.
In contrast, my opponent voted to raise property taxes multiple times as a Lincolnshire Village Trustee. She also voted to raise sales taxes and to institute a food and beverage tax. These irresponsible tax increases have unfortunately made Lincolnshire an inhospitable climate for both businesses and residents. At the same time, Lincolnshire has failed to take sufficient steps to address the increased risk of flooding facing many of its residents.
The most pressing issue facing the legislature next year will be passing a responsible, balanced budget that fairly funds vital services without raising taxes on middle-class families. It is important to select representatives who have established that they are truly committed to lowering the tax burden faced by families in our community.
Illinois is now the sixth-most populated state, down from No. 5, after 33,703 people moved out between July 2016 and July 2017. What must the Legislature do to make Illinois a more desirable place to live?
Didech: The Legislature should cut taxes for middle-class families. So many residents move to our neighborhoods in the 59th district because of our high-quality schools and our safe, welcoming community. But once children age out of our local schools, the tax burden is often too high for empty-nesters to afford to retire here. I do not want out community to turn into a place where everyone temporarily moves here just to take advantage of our world-class schools. We absolutely must take steps to make living in our community more affordable, such as reducing the income tax for middle-class families and reducing the property tax burden for homeowners.
In 2017, our state’s unfunded pension liability ballooned to more than $130 billion. What’s to be done about that?
Didech: Any changes to our pension systems can only take place with every stakeholder at the table, particularly organized labor and organizations that protect middle-class families. I am strongly supportive of ensuring that individuals continue to receive the benefits they earned, and would make sure their representative organizations have a voice throughout the process.
I would need to see a final plan and ensure it makes sound fiscal sense, including the impact of interest rates and its effect on the state’s fiscal outlook. No refinancing plan should be done on the backs of middle-class families.
From 2000 to 2016, the number of Illinois residents who enrolled as college freshmen outside the state increased by 73% (20,507 to 35,445). Why are so many more Illinois residents going to college elsewhere? What should be done to encourage more of them to go to school here?
Didech: Higher education has been among the hardest hit by Illinois’ budget crisis. It is no surprise that Illinois residents are choosing to go to college elsewhere when the state government cannot be counted on to fairly and reliably fund our state’s colleges and universities. The most important thing we can do to encourage more young adults to stay in Illinois is to get the state’s fiscal house in order and end the irresponsible practice of passing unbalanced budgets — or worse, no budget at all.
What laws, if any, should the Legislature pass to address the problem of gun violence?
Didech: We should enact commonsense reforms such as banning military-style assault rifles and “bump-stock” modifications like those used by the Las Vegas shooter that allowed the shooter to fire hundreds of bullets per minute. I also support proposals which would require all gun dealers in Illinois to be licensed by the state. Gun dealers must be held to responsible standards, such as ensuring they are conducting all necessary background checks, keeping their stores secure and stopping straw purchasers. The legislature should also take steps to oppose Donald Trump’s reckless proposal to arm teachers and place more guns into school classrooms.
On-demand scheduling software now helps large retail companies determine how many staff members they will need on a day-to-day or even hour-to-hour basis. The downside is that employees may not receive their work schedules until the last minute. Oregon and a number of cities have responded by adopting “fair scheduling” laws. Would it be appropriate for the Illinois Legislature to pass a “fair scheduling” law? Please explain. What would such a law look like?
Didech: I am supportive of laws that ensure that workers have stable, predictable work schedules. Volatile work schedules can make it very difficult for many low-wage workers — especially women — to arrange child care, pursue education, and get needed medical care. Fair scheduling is also good for business and the economy, as it leads to a more productive workforce and promotes the health and well-being of working families.
Should recreational marijuana be legalized in Illinois? Please explain.
Didech: I would only consider supporting legislation that incorporates the expert advice of law enforcement, educators, and medical personnel. Recreational marijuana should be taxed, regulated and legalized, but I would not support any measures that would potentially put children and families at risk by causing an increase in impaired driving or making it easier for teenagers to acquire mind-altering drugs.
Opioid overdoses and fatalities continue to rise in number. In Illinois in 2017, there were 13,395 opioid overdoses, including 2,110 deaths. What should the Legislature do, if anything, about this?
Didech: The opioid epidemic has had a devastating impact on too many families and communities. I am supportive of proposals that will address this crisis by fighting overprescription, increasing reporting standards by hospitals, and giving law enforcement the training and tools needed to handle overdose emergencies.
In order to approach this issue comprehensively, we have to look at the underlying causes of this crisis. We have to invest in communities that face job and educational shortages, and we simply cannot allow addiction treatment programs to be held hostage by manufactured political crises such as the governor’s budget impasse.
The Future Energy Jobs Act, passed in 2016, is generating job growth in renewable energy and improving energy efficiency. Do you agree or disagree with the objectives and substance of the Act? What more — or less — should be done?
Didech: I fully support the Future Energy Jobs Act, which was an important step toward a 100% clean energy future for Illinois. We should continue to take steps that will transition Illinois away from energy sources that pollute our air and water, and toward a future that prioritizes wind, solar, and other clean energy sources. Illinois should also take a leading role by adopting policies and making investments that will support sustainable transportation infrastructure such as high-speed rail, public transportation, and electric and driverless vehicles.
What would you do to ensure the long-term viability of the state’s Medicaid program? What is your view on managed care for Medicaid beneficiaries?
Didech: I support a public option that would allow Illinois residents who do not receive federal healthcare subsidies to buy-in to the state’s Medicaid program, so every Illinois resident will have access to an affordable health insurance option. This will create a new source of revenue for the state and secure the program’s long-term viability, without incurring any additional cost for taxpayers. It will additionally create more competition in the health insurance market, which will drive down the cost of health insurance for everyone in Illinois. I would be supportive of any other reforms that would drive down the cost of healthcare and ensure that every Illinois resident has access to high-quality, affordable healthcare.
Underfunding at the Department of Corrections has led to troubling findings by the auditor general that many inmates don’t receive services or opportunities for work while incarcerated. Is this a legitimate concern? What should the Legislature do?
Didech: The priority at our state prisons should be rehabilitation and ensuring that upon release, inmates do not need to resort to criminal activity to support themselves and their families. We should provide the services and opportunities necessary so that when people are released from incarceration, they have the skills and the tools necessary to re-enter the workforce and earn a stable living. The legislature should work with experts to adopt policies that will reduce recidivism, reduce crime, and rehabilitate inmates to increase the likelihood that they will responsibly contribute to our state upon completion of their incarceration.
Should the state restore the practice of parole for people sentenced to long terms? Why or why not?
Didech: My commitment to my constituents is to support policies that are proven to be effective at keeping our community safe. It is vitally important that elected officials are committed to keeping our community safe from dangerous criminals and gun violence. I am proud that my campaign has been endorsed by the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police and Gun Violence Prevention PAC. I will work closely with experts in public safety, including police officers and community leaders, to promote legislation that will protect families in our community.
Ahead of the historic 2018 elections, the Sun-Times is teaming up weekly with the Better Government Association, in print and online, to fact-check the truthfulness of the candidates. You can find all of the PolitiFact Illinois stories we’ve reported together here.