Running for: 54th House District, Illinois General Assembly
Political party affiliation: Democrat
Political/civic background: City of Rolling Meadows Environmental Committee 2015-present
City of Rolling Meadows Traffic Committee, 2018-present
Candidate, 54th House District, Illinois General Assembly 2018
Occupation: Principal/Owner, Trevor Research Services, LLC (Market Research/Business Consulting services)
Education: B.A., Chemistry - University of Chicago
M.A., Political Science – University of Chicago
Ph.D., Political Science – University of Chicago
Campaign website: maggietrevor4il54.net
The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent nominees 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 and their districts. Maggie Trevor submitted the following responses:
The COVID-19 pandemic has hammered the finances of Illinois. The state is staring at a $6.2 billion budget shortfall in this fiscal year. What should be done? Please be specific.
Even before this crisis, I favored comprehensive change in how we tax ourselves. Now, more than ever, we need a constitutional amendment establishing a graduated income tax to make sure we have the resources to educate our kids, fix our roads and bridges, support our first responders and fund essential social services for our most vulnerable citizens. However, it is clear that the states, including Illinois, will not be able to weather this crisis without federal leadership and federal aid. Illinois can turn to federal loans in the short to medium term, but we must continue to press for federal aid as we evaluate the ongoing impact of the economic downturn on state revenues. We cannot cut our way out of this problem. The damaging impact on social services would have a ripple effect on the economic well-being of the people of Illinois and wreak further havoc on our state’s economy. At best, with federal aid, we are facing a longer timeline to right our budget problems, fully fund our pension debt and pay the state’s backlog of bills.
What grade — “A” to “F” — would you give Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic? Please explain. What, if anything, should he have done differently?
I would give Gov. Pritzker an A-. He has exhibited strong leadership, grounded in science and compassion, in an unprecedented crisis – leadership that has been absent at the federal level. He’s shown a willingness to listen to those people and organizations affected by his decisions and to adapt to new information as it becomes available to us. I believe he made a concerted effort to work with the legislature, with leaders in the industries affected by shutdowns and with local units of government. I attribute the state’s ability to safely move to Phase 4 sooner than most states to his leadership. Gov. Pritzker drew criticism – much of it unjustified – for not working closely enough with the legislature, and perhaps he could have addressed those criticisms more pointedly. Legislators were engaged in planning efforts during that period, and I appreciate the need for a shortened, efficient session to keep those who work in the capital, their families and the communities they return to as safe as possible.
In the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, legislatures in some states have taken up the issue of police reform. Should Illinois do the same? If so, what would that look like?
As a state representative, I would act in support of those speaking out for police reform and work to create a safer and more equitable community in the 54th District and in Illinois. I will work to pass legislation that encourages a deeper dialogue between the police and the communities they are sworn to serve. I will call for greater accountability, including limits on qualified immunity, and for independent prosecutors to investigate officer-involved deaths and bring charges when warranted. I will support legislative efforts to license or certify law enforcement officers and maintain databases of those who have been dismissed for cause. I will work to fund community-based social assistance and health care services, including mental health services, that will provide more appropriate responses to the needs of people in our communities.
Should the Legislature pass a law requiring all law enforcement officers to wear body cameras? Why or why not?
I support the use of body cameras by uniformed, on-duty police, but I also understand the importance of a balance between the right to privacy and the need to hold uniformed officers accountable for their actions while on duty and serving the public. Because of this, I support the guidelines that were passed in SB1304, which outlined statewide standards for the use of body cameras; and I would support legislation to require those guidelines to be implemented.
Federal prosecutors have revealed a comprehensive scheme of bribery, ghost jobs and favoritism in subcontracting by ComEd to influence the actions of House Speaker Michael Madigan. Who’s to blame? What ethics reforms should follow? Should Madigan resign?
A thorough investigation of the tactics used by ComEd and other regulated entities is critical to the integrity of our legislative process, and we should demand full cooperation with this investigation from all our elected officials. Any and all who are found to have broken the law need to be held accountable.
I am a persistent advocate for strong and rigorously enforced ethics, lobbying and campaign finance regulations. These are necessary to reduce the power of entities such as ComEd; its parent company, Exelon; and other state-regulated companies to shape legislation through both legal and illegal means. Corporations are not people, and should not have unfettered influence on our legislative and electoral processes. We need to craft effective legislation governing lobbying and campaign contributions to minimize the outsized influence of Illinois-regulated industries on the legislative process meant to protect the interests of the people of this state.
Elected officials must be held to a high standard and be held accountable when they violate the public’s trust or the law. We must have confidence that our elected officials are not beholden to the industries they are sent to Springfield to oversee. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty and everyone deserves due process under the law. Having said that, if the allegations against the Speaker are true or found to be true, then I believe he should resign.
Maggie Trevor submitted the following responses before the March primary:
Please tell us about your civic work in the last two years, whether it’s legislation you have sponsored or work you have done in other ways to improve your community.
I serve on the Environmental Committee and as the bicycle liaison to the Traffic committee in the city of Rolling Meadows. As a member of the Environmental Committee, I have helped in fundraising for restoration of natural areas within the city, advised public works and city council members on priorities for maintenance and restoration of the city’s natural areas, advised on recycling policy and environmental regulations, and advocated for increased accessibility for bicycle and pedestrian traffic in ongoing, new and proposed construction within the city. I also regularly attend city events and staff information booths in order to provide information on the city’s environmental initiatives and to encourage residents to get involved in environmental projects around the city.
As the bicycle liaison to the Traffic Committee, I provide the perspective of cyclists and pedestrians on issues that come up before this committee.
In addition, in 2018 I ran for the General Assembly, 54th House District, the same office I am currently running for in the 2020 Democratic Primary. I lost the general election to the Republican incumbent, Tom Morrison, by 43 votes.
Please list three concerns that are specific to your district, such as a project that should be undertaken or a state policy related to an important local issue that should be revised.
High property taxes are of very specific concern to the residents the 54th district, and shifting away from the reliance on property taxes as primary source of funding of education is a priority.
Proper funding of higher education is of great importance to the 54th. Students graduating from area high schools are faced with high tuition costs at state universities and community colleges and are leaving the state to attend college, accelerating the flight from Illinois.
Equal rights for LGBTQ people has been a key issue in this district for a number of years. District 211 high schools have been at the center of a confrontation between board members who have worked with transgender students and the Education Department to reach an accommodation, and a small group of parents opposed to the compromise who are being represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, which the Southern Poverty Law Center designates as a hate group because of its extreme anti-LGBT views. This year, the district approved an inclusive policy, which this group strongly opposed in a series of board meetings where public comment was allowed. In support of this group, Tom Morrison, the current state representative in this district, introduced legislation requiring students to use the bathroom facilities corresponding to the gender they were assigned to at birth. In this legislative session he also introduced HB3515, which criminalizes medical care for transgender youth. I am opposed to such legislation and the use of this issue as a divisive wedge in my own community.
What are your other top legislative priorities?
When I have talked to voters going door to door in the 54th district, the key issues I hear about are access to affordable healthcare, education, high property taxes and making our communities safe. I plan to fight for affordable, accessible health care, including fighting for coverage of pre-existing conditions and a fairer system of taxation that provides adequate funding for education while reducing the need to rely on property taxes to alleviate the burden on middle class homeowners.
What is your position on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed graduated income tax? Please explain.
I support the fair tax amendment. All other forms of taxation in this state, property and sales taxes, are inherently regressive, and in combination with a flat income tax, place an unfair burden on lower and middle income residents. The fair tax will give Illinois an important tool to address our budget issues without further burdening lower and middle income residents.
Illinois continues to struggle financially, with a backlog of unpaid bills that tops $6 billion. In addition to a progressive state income tax — or in lieu of such a tax — what should the state do to pay its bills, meet its pension obligations and fund core services such as higher education?
The long term key to solving Illinois budget problems is addressing the solvency of pension funds, and to pay down the unfunded liability. Moving forward, we must make full pension payments and address the unfunded liability over time. Future pension reform legislation needs to be carefully crafted to survive any legal challenges, be fair to taxpayers and public sector employees, require all stakeholders at the table, and consider options based on current interest rates and realistic rates of return on investments.
Should Illinois consider taxing the retirement incomes of its very wealthiest residents, as most states do? And your argument is?
In general, I am opposed to increasing taxes on those with limited, fixed incomes, including retirees. I would be open to considering taxes on retirement income on very wealthy residents only as part of a comprehensive tax reform that addresses property tax burdens and that does not increase the income tax burden on low or middle income families, and I would strongly oppose any taxes on lower or middle income retirees. Most retirees have limited means or flexibility to make up for shortfalls in disposable income because of increases in taxation, and are financially vulnerable.
What can Illinois do to improve its elementary and high schools?
Illinois needs to adequately fund education at the state level and shift away from the reliance on property taxes as the primary source of funding of our neighborhood schools.
Mass shootings and gun violence plague America. What can or should the Legislature do, if anything, to address this problem in Illinois?
I understand the value of preserving access to appropriate firearms for sport. But the Second Amendment does not preclude sensible efforts that will be effective in our efforts to reduce gun violence in our communities. I support dealer licensing and tougher penalties for illegal sales of firearms. I also support a ban on the sale of weapons, accessories and modifications that allow rapid fire of large numbers of rounds. I will fight to keep guns out of the hands of those with a history of domestic violence or severe mental impairment.
Do you favor or oppose term limits for any elected official in Illinois? Please explain.
I am in favor of term limits on executives, such as the governor. I am not in favor of term limits on legislators. It limits the choice of representation for voters, and creates a lack of accountability among lame duck legislators. I do feel that term limits on leadership positions as part of broader reform could be effective in maintaining accountability. More importantly, in order to improve accountability of all elected officials, including state legislators, we need to find ways to limit the effect of money in politics in order to reduce the advantage of incumbency, make legislators more responsive to voters, and limit the influence of the ultra wealthy.
Everybody says gerrymandering is bad, but the party in power in every state — Democrats in Illinois — resist doing anything about it. Or do we have that wrong? What should be done?
I would support the formation of an independent commission for the drawing of district lines. Support of this would be conditioned on a reasonable process for commission selection and clear, fair criteria for the drawing of district lines
The U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago is investigating possible official corruption by state and local officials. This prompted the Legislature to pass an ethics reform measure to amend the Lobbyist Registration Act (SB 1639). It was signed into law in December. What’s your take on this and what more should be done?
I applaud the passage of SB1639, as well as the passage of House Joint Resolution 93 which creates a bipartisan ethics reform commission to recommend changes to the laws governing lobbying and ethics. I also firmly believe that we need comprehensive campaign finance reform at both the state and national level to limit the influence of money on politics.
When people use the internet and wireless devices, companies collect data about us. Oftentimes, the information is sold to other companies, which can use it to track our movements or invade our privacy in other ways. When companies share this data, we also face a greater risk of identity theft. What should the Legislature do, if anything?
I favor the passage of stronger data privacy protections in Illinois that give consumers the right to know what information is being collected on them, and the right to opt out of the sale of their personal information.
The number of Illinois public high school graduates who enroll in out-of-state universities continues to climb. What can Illinois do to make its state universities more attractive to Illinois high school students?
The parents I have talked to who have kids enrolled in out of state schools tell me they sent them out of state because of the rise in college tuition for Illinois’ public colleges and universities, as well as the uncertainty in funding for higher education created by the two year budget impasse. To keep our talented students in Illinois, we need to make college education more affordable and properly fund our higher education institutions. This starts with consistently approving reasonable budgets in a timely manner, making financial aid more accessible and restoring students’ and their parents’ faith in MAP grants as a reliable source of aid.
What is your top legislative priority with respect to the environment?
Legislation that promotes green energy jobs is my top environmental priority. Green energy jobs provide an economic benefit to Illinois, while also helping to protect the environment through increased energy efficiency. The interaction between job growth, energy efficiency, and any taxes, incentives and changes in utility rates is complex, and the specifics of such legislation needs to analyzed so that middle class families do not see a net negative economic impact as a result of higher taxes or utility rates.
What historical figure from Illinois, other than Abraham Lincoln (because everybody’s big on Abe), do you most admire or draw inspiration from? Please explain.
I draw the most inspiration from Jane Addams. In her work co-founding Hull House and the ACLU, advocating for women’s suffrage, teaching and lecturing, she was a force for positive change on women’s rights, civil rights, and social welfare policy. Her numerous accomplishments came at a time when women faced almost insurmountable barriers to civic participation, and in the face of this, accomplished herself in multiple pursuits and helped redefine women’s roles in civic life.
What’s your favorite TV, streaming or web-based show of all time. Why?
M.A.S.H. is probably my favorite of all time. Although I held off watching reruns of this series for decades, I recently re-watched this series, and experienced again how relevant, entertaining and well made it was for the time. When it first aired, I was still in elementary school, and would watch this show with my family. It was a favorite of my father’s and I remember he would rarely miss an episode. My father, a World War II veteran who passed away in 1979, rarely talked about what he did during the war, and I didn’t discover until decades later the special resonance that the show must have had for him. When I was going through papers after my mother’s death, I found a copy of his military record. I had not known that before attending OCS in 1945, he had served for several years as an x-ray technician in an army hospital in the European theater.