On Feb. 13, Mary Carvlin appeared before the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. We asked her why she’s running for the Democratic nomination in the Illinois House of Representatives in the 28th District:
My name is Mary Carvlin. I’m running for the office of state representative in the Illinois House, District 28. District 28 goes from Roseland and Pullman all the way to Orland and Tinley. People don’t always know where it is and my background is right now I’m a teacher. I teach seventh grade Spanish. I have been teaching for fifteen years. Prior to that, I’ve been editor, writer, journalist. Worked in publishing. I’ve raised three daughters, young adult daughters.
My priority for this district is to create a sense of community in a district that is very gerrymandered, and a community in which people know that they’re in that district and care about that district as a community. And to do that, I want to work on the needs of 65 percent of the voters who live in the far east part of the district, which is an underserved area. And one of the issues that I think everybody in the district can be concerned with or is concerned with is issues of urban flooding and usage of public space, and I’m very in favor of bringing infrastructure and jobs that go along with that, which I think that would benefit the entire district.
The Chicago Sun-Times sent the candidates seeking nominations for the Illinois House of Representatives a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the state of Illinois. Mary Carvlin submitted the following answers to our questionnaire:
TOPIC: Top priorities
QUESTION: Please explain what your specific cause or causes will be. Please avoid a generic topic or issue in your answer.
- Working to unify and promote District 28, which is gerrymandered in an anticommunity way.
- Focus on the needs of the 65% of the district’s voters who live in underserved areas.
- Promoting green infrastructure and jobs related to that.
Legislative District: Ill House 28
Political/civic background: Blue Island Library Board trustee, 6 years; candidate for City Clerk, Blue Island, 2017; founder of Northeast Blue Island Resident Action Group (now a Rain Ready / CNT group) to solve flooding issues
Education: BA in Eng Lit and Spanish, MA in Education
Campaign website: www.marycarvlinforstaterep.com
TOPIC: Top district needs
QUESTION: Please list three district-specific needs that will be your priorities. This could be a project that is needed in your district, or a rule that needs to be changed, or some federal matter that has been ignored.
- Address gun violence and its root causes in the Roseland/Pullman area.
- Reduce urban flooding, which affects all communities in the district.
- Create training programs for non college educated people to obtain jobs that provide a living wage.
TOPIC: Pension debt
QUESTION: In 2017, Illinois’ unfunded pension liability ballooned to at least $130 billion. Do you support re-amortizing this debt? Please explain your answer. And what is your position on a constitutional amendment that would reduce the liability of the pension debt?
ANSWER: I support refinancing the debt if that is the best solution. Illinois is obligated to pay the pensions it owes to workers. If state lawmakers over past many decades had fulfilled their duty to fund the plans, this crisis would have been avoided. This state has an economy the size of The Netherlands. We have no excuse not to be fiscally responsible.
TOPIC: Minimum wage
QUESTION: Cook County and Chicago are on their way to paying a $13 hourly minimum wage. Many suburbs in the county, however, have opted out of the wage increase. Should Illinois raise its minimum wage from $8.25 an hour? Please explain. And if you favor an increase in the state minimum wage, what should it be?
ANSWER: I support the idea of a $15 minimum wage, which has been calculated by some experts. A minimum wage pulls everyone up. It allows workers the security they need to stay in a job, which also benefits employers.
QUESTION: Should recreational marijuana be legalized in Illinois? Please explain.
ANSWER: I would support this after more study and preparation has been done. The greatest benefit would be to end unfair incarceration of young people.
QUESTION: Would you support more casinos in Illinois, including in Chicago. What about racinos? Please explain.
ANSWER: I am not in favor of using gambling activities as a revenue source for the state. Legislators see gambling such as the lottery as free revenue or a voluntary tax. However, responsible spending of that money, such as for education, has not necessarily followed.
TOPIC: Property tax freeze
QUESTION: A property tax freeze in Illinois has been proposed frequently since Gov. Bruce Rauner took office. What’s your position? If you favor a freeze, how many years should it last? Should the freeze exclude property tax increases to service the debt, make pension payments or cover the cost of public safety? Again, please explain.
ANSWER: My property taxes have doubled in the 25 years I have owned my home. I do not feel burdened by that, because I am proud to support my community. I feel that most citizens do not resent paying a fair tax. But they do resent their money being spent recklessly. We want accountability and frugality from our lawmakers, just as we run our own homes.
TOPIC: School funding
QUESTION: A revised school funding formula was approved this year by the Legislature and the governor, but a bipartisan commission has concluded that billions more dollars are needed to achieve sufficient and equitable funding. Should Illinois spend more on schools, and where would the money come from?
ANSWER: A progressive income tax could allow the state to fund schools more fairly than the current reliance of school districts on property taxes.
TOPIC: Opioid abuse
QUESTION: How can the Legislature best address the problem of opioid abuse and addiction? Please cite specific laws you have supported or would support.
ANSWER: Illinois has suffered the loss of mental health services over decades. Drug and alcohol addictions are a mental health problem, thus a public health problem. The state has cut spending in this area, resulting in increased incarceration of sufferers, increased emergency room expenses, and increased homelessness. It is morally wrong for an affluent citizenry such as ours to allow such pain and suffering to be ignored. I will work as hard as I can on funding public health. The Affordable Care Act created the Prevention and Public Health Fund, supported by medical experts. The new federal budget significantly cut that spending. Illinois will need to work to fill those gaps.
QUESTION: Do you support a state ban on gun silencers? Please explain.
ANSWER: I am in favor of any legislation about guns that decreases their criminal use. I am not sure a ban on silencers could make a significant impact on crime.
QUESTION: Should all gun dealers in Illinois be licensed by the state? Please explain.
ANSWER: I would support the SB1657 currently in the House. As Toni Preckwinkle said in the Sun-Times, this bill will help law enforcers to inhibit illegal sales and promote best practices by gun shops.
QUESTION: Should family members be empowered to petition courts for the temporary removal of guns from emotionally or mentally disturbed people who may be a danger to themselves or others? Please explain.
ANSWER: Family members of mentally unstable individuals can suffer tremendously, especially in their inability to control that person’s behavior. And strong case that can be made in court for alleviating the suffering and danger in such families would be helpful.
QUESTION: What would you do to ensure the long-term viability of the state’s Medicaid program? Do you support continued Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act? Should the state continue on a path toward managed care for Medicaid beneficiaries? Should everyone be permitted to buy into Medicaid?
ANSWER: Philosophically, I support universal health care. Any step we take towards that goal, I will support. At the least, we must ensure the coverage of our most vulnerable citizens. Given that we have a president and Congress aiming to take away coverage, Illinois must strengthen its efforts to fill in the gaps.
TOPIC: College student exodus
QUESTION: Illinois is one of the largest exporters of college students in the country. What would you do to encourage the best and brightest young people in Illinois to attend college here at home? Does Illinois have too many state universities, as some have argued?
ANSWER: UW-Madison has recently pledged free tuition for state students whose families earn $56,000 or less, which they plan to pay for through private sources. This is a great idea. It will strengthen the university system by drawing in capable students who otherwise would not be able to attend college. Those graduates will become an asset to the state. Illinois has outstanding schools. We can be creative with ideas to draw our brightest students into those schools.
TOPIC: Gov. Rauner
QUESTION: Please list three of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s principles, or decisions he has made, with which you agree. Also please list three of the governor’s principles, or decisions he has made, with which you disagree.
- I respect that he took a political risk to vote yes to HB 40, allowing some public funding for abortion. I also respect his defense of illegal aliens.
- I agree with Rauner that Michael Madigan promotes certain practices in the Democratic machine that are unethical. Madigan hosted two ghost candidates in his last election to confuse voters, and his protégé Bob Rita, my opponent, has done the same to me. It is a very low trick.
- I respect that Rauner has disengaged from the Illinois Policy Institute for their disturbing ad and their lack of support for his HB 40 vote.
- I disagree with his tactics in the budget stalemate, holding out for pro-business and anti-worker issues.
- I disagree with him on right to work laws, aimed at weakening unions.
- I don’t think Rauner is a bad person, but I think his life experience may not give him much understanding of middle and lower income realities. Big business does not need big defenders. Regular working people, though, do need the protection of our shared government.