Mark C. Curran Jr., U.S. Senate Republican nominee profile

He believes the economy needs to open up “completely except in locations with a high level of hospitalizations and/ or deaths” from COVID-19.

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Mark C. Curran Jr., Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Illinois, 2020 election candidate questionnaire

Mark C. Curran Jr., Republican nominee for U.S. Senate.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Candidate profile

Mark Cooney Curran Jr.

Running for: United States Senator

Political party affiliation: Republican

Political/civic background: Lake County Sheriff 2006-2018/Numerous Law Enforcement and Community Boards

Occupation: Attorney

Education:High School -- Loyola Academy, Wilmette, IL; College -- Spring Hill, Mobile, Alabama BS in Business Administration; Law School -- IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, Chicago, Illinois; Suburban Law Enforcement Academy -- Certified Law Enforcement Degree, Wheaton Illinois. Additionally, I hold numerous advanced law enforcement degrees.

Campaign website:

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Twitter: @electmarkcurran

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The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the nominees for U.S. Senate a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the state of Illinois and the country. Mark C. Curran Jr. submitted the following responses:

Are you satisfied with the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? Why or why not? What grade would you give President Donald Trump for his handling of the pandemic, and why? 

I am satisfied the President responded quickly overall, given the rampant confusion among members of the medical community in the early days of the pandemic. The President’s quick response included doing everything from constructing hospitals in a matter of days to coordinating with state governments to fulfill their needs. The President’s closing travel to China early on was significant in saving lives. I think the President could have done more to build consensus during the pandemic. However, we are living hyper partisan times and President Trump had just gone through a very unfair impeachment process. I would like to have seen more debate on the handling of the virus. All scientists are not in agreement on the handling of COVID 19. Hence, I would like to have had discussions on both a herd approach, letting the virus run its course once there were enough hospital beds, and isolating only the most vulnerable. The costs of COVID 19 to small businesses and children that are being robbed of their childhood is substantial. I would give President Trump a B for the above stated reasons. 

What should the federal government do to stimulate economic recovery from the pandemic shutdowns? 

I have based much of my campaign on being a voice for the middle class. The wealthiest 1 percent of America has more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. Small businesses are the key to the middle class. We need to allow small businesses to open as soon as possible and to get government off their back. Many large corporations were never required to close. I have been advocating that the economy needs to open up completely except in locations with a high level of hospitalization’s and/ or deaths. The number of cases means nothing; obviously more testing means more positives. We cannot afford to wait much longer to allow small businesses to open up or the impact will be significantly worse. We are going to have to spend money to help the struggling middle class, but we need to be careful where that money is going. 

In the wake of the death of George Floyd, President Trump signed an executive order on police reform. It calls for the creation of a database to track police officers with multiple instances of misconduct, federal grants to encourage police departments to meet higher certification standards on use of force, and the greater involvement of social workers and mental health professionals when the police respond to calls dealing with homelessness, mental illness and addiction. The order also calls for police departments to ban the use of chokeholds except when an officer feels his or her life is endangered. Will this be enough to address concerns about police brutality? If not, what other steps should be taken. 

I had already done everything that was suggested in the Police Reform signed by President Trump. I served as Lake County Illinois Sheriff from 2006-2018. While serving as Sheriff my Office applied for and achieved State and National Accreditation for our Highway Patrol Division. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office became one of the elite Sheriff’s Office in America achieving dual accreditation for our Jail from the American Correctional Association and the National Commission on Health Care. Finally, our accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies coupled with our jail accreditations gave us the what is known as the “triple crown of accreditations” for Sheriff’s Offices in America. The training for the homeless and mentally ill in Illinois is known as Crisis Intervention Training. My Office was in the process of having every single employee of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office receive that designation when I left. We were the leader in Illinois. I have written extensively on the topic of the “Code of Silence” in law enforcement agencies. The key to holding police officers accountable is having independent Internal Affairs Division that has no ties to the line police officers. I have attached a copy of a most recent article I wrote on this topic. 

Also in the wake of the death of George Floyd, the House passed the Justice in Policing Act, which would ban the Police Department from using chokeholds, develop a national standard for use of force, limit the transfer of military items to police departments, define lynching as a federal hate crime, establish a national police misconduct registry, and limit qualified immunity, which protects officers from lawsuits over alleged misconduct. Do you support this legislation? Why or why not? What other steps, if any, would you like to see the federal government take on police reform?

I agree with almost all of the recommended changes however the reality is fewer young people are interested in becoming police officers. The number of applications for police jobs continues to decline. The younger generation is less interested in working on weekends, holidays, and late shifts. The reputation is no longer viewed as honorable by many Americans. I have spoken strongly in favor of protecting pensions for police, firefighters/ paramedics, and teachers. We need to make sure compensation is sufficient to attract the best talent to policing. Changing police immunity makes less sense. Police are already personally liable in civil court for intentional or reckless acts of misconduct. Most trial lawyers do not go after police in this capacity because they know police do not have a lot of money and collecting will be difficult. I served much of my career in Lake County, Illinois. Lake County is known for a long history of wrongful convictions. I was the only elected official to call out the Lake County States Attorneys Office for continuing to convict the wrong people and violate civil rights. A prosecutor has essentially absolute immunity. Many of the mistakes in Lake County were made by prosecutors and a prosecutors absolute immunity should be discussed.

What is your view on President Trump’s decision to commute the sentence of Roger Stone? 

I think Roger Stone’s sentence was exorbitant and I do not have a significant problem with the commutation. My problem is with politicizing government workers whether they are police, lawyers, accountants (Internal Revenue Services), or simply civil servants to go after political enemies. We saw how employees of the Federal Bureau of Investigation went after President Trump for political reasons. I have never gone after someone while serving as a Sheriff or a Government Prosecutor. I think there should be stiffer penalties for using your position to target political enemies.

Mark C. Curran Jr. submitted the following responses before the primary election:

Please tell us about your civic work in the last two years, whether it’s legislation you have sponsored or other paid or volunteer work to improve your community. 

My civic work over the past two years includes my holding the Office of Lake County Illinois Sheriff from 2006-2018. I serve on the Board of the Chicago Arch Diocese Office for Human Dignity and Solidarity. I serve on a Board for Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein. I am a frequent host for WSFI Catholic Radio 88.5 FM Antioch. I am an active member of the Lake County Illinois Bar Association. I am an active member of the Lake County Republican Party and the Lake County Republican Federation. I sat on numerous boards as Lake County Sheriff including the Illinois Sheriff’s Association, the National Sheriff’s Association, the Lake County Chiefs of Police Association.

What are your views on the decision by the U.S. House to impeach President Donald Trump? Has the impeachment process been fair or not? How so? If, in your view, the president should not have been impeached, would you have supported censure? Please explain.

I am an attorney that spent almost 15 years as a county, state and federal prosecutor. I also taught Constitutional Law for many years at Columbia College, Missouri and for Northeast Metropolitan Training. Several of my closest friends were involved in the House Impeachment Trial of President Bill Clinton. I did not think his impeachment was a good idea because we knew the Senate would not convict. Similarly, we know the United States Senate will not convict President Trump. A prosecutor does not indict a case merely because he has probable cause. A prosecutor indicts a case because he believes the Defendant committed the offense and that conviction is possible. The House Intelligence Committee began the inquiry into President Trump and the manner in which they conducted their hearing was clearly not fair, from limiting the Republican’s ability to question witnesses to constantly leaking testimony to the press in an attempt to sway public opinion. The hearing before the House Judiciary Committee was also biased with unreliable hearsay testimony and inappropriate opinion evidence. The House of Representatives did not follow the precedent of the prior Impeachments. I would not vote to convict. I would not vote to censure. I believe in this instance it undermines the President’s ability to represent the United States in dealing with foreign leaders. Furthermore, although the President says there was no “quid pro” I would acknowledge there may have been a “quid pro quo.” However, a likely inference is that it related back to the 2016 election and not the 2020 election and this would not an impeachable offense. Another possible explanation is that the President wanted Ukraine to clean up their corruption, part of which was the Biden’s, before the U.S. gave them money.

How would you reduce the federal budget deficit, which now stands at about $1 trillion for 2020? What changes, if any, to the U.S. tax code do you support and why?

If I am elected to the United States Senate, I will be one of 100. The budget begins in the House of Representatives. The budget is always a compromise process. President Clinton working with the Republican controlled House of Representatives signed balanced budgets in his last 2 years in Office. The budget is out of control and a higher and higher percentage of the budget will go toward interest on the debt. President Trump increased military spending approximately 100 million dollars. The question must always be where is that money going to come from? I was under budget 12 years in a row as Lake County Sheriff. This made me unpopular with some people. We must honor our promise to seniors regarding Medicare and Social Security which comprise approximately 40 percent of the budget. Since we must honor those promises nothing else can be considered a sacred cow. I would support a balanced budget amendment and would lead on one. I would support simplifying the tax code. I am not in favor of tax breaks for big banks, internet, oil, gas and other large corporations giving them an unfair advantage. We will be better as a nation with tax policies that help the local economies. America will be better when we have more entrepreneurs and small businesses. We need to enforce antitrust laws and ensure that Washington is not giving the big corporations an unfair advantage over the little guy.

What changes would you like to see made to our nation’s healthcare system? Would you shore up the Affordable Care Act or work to repeal it in full? What’s your view on Medicare for All? And what should be done, if anything, to bring down the cost of prescription drugs?

Our health care system must protect preexisting conditions. If I am elected to the United States Senate, I would study the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA has approximately 20,000 pages of regulations associated with the Act. I want to know what, if anything, is working in the ACA before deciding to replace or repeal the Act completely. I am not a proponent of a single payer health care system. Private industry has a better record of running business than the Federal government. The problem with the cost of prescription drug prices is that they reflect more than the cost to produce the pill. According to the Tufts Center for the study of Drug Development drug makers spend on average 2.6 billion dollars to develop and gain market approval for a new drug. The drug maker needs to recover those costs and make a profit in order to have an incentive to continue to spend money on research and development. We may want to examine whether our drug companies are charging foreign countries enough. 

The Trump administration is awaiting a ruling from the Supreme Court as to whether it can end the DACA program — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — which shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation. Do you support or oppose DACA and why? Should a path to citizenship be created for the so-called DREAMers? Please explain.

I support a border wall as well as increased funding for both Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) and Border Patrol Agents. I support maintaining our sovereignty and stopping the flow of illegal immigration. I also support legislation regarding both DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and Dreamers (Dream Act) Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors. These people did not choose to come here voluntarily. Their families brought them here. We would be less of a Nation if we deported them to a place they no longer know. I also support a path to citizenship for Dreamers. I have significant expertise on these topics. I worked diligently on the 2013 Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill that passed the Senate 62-38 and died in the House. Many in politics will deceive and claim that you can have border security without addressing other provisions like DACA and Dreamers. We are a divided Nation and Congress controls spending thus nobody gets anything without compromise. 

What are the three most important issues in your district on which the federal government can and should act?

The cost of living in Illinois is at the top of the list of concerns for the people of our state. Illinois citizens are crushed by high property taxes in addition to all of the other taxes they must pay. On the federal level the three most important issues in my district would probably be immigration, health care and the cost of doing business. Small businesses face the challenges of too much taxes, regulation and litigation.

What is the biggest difference between you and your opponent(s)?

I am the only Candidate to hold prior elected Office. I served as Lake County Illinois Sheriff from 2006-2018. I was elected as a Democrat in 2006 and became a Republican in2008. In 2010, 2014 and 2018 I received a higher percentage of votes than any other countywide Republican in Lake County, Illinois. I had significant bipartisan support in my past elections. I have the most diverse experience having previously been a county, state and federal prosecutor; a small business owner; an elected Sheriff; an appointed Coroner; a Professor of Business Law, Criminal Justice and Constitutional Law. My opponents have been attacking and telling untruths about my record because I have the strongest base. I have been able to overcome such attacks in the past because nobody is able to out work me. Finally, my record as Lake County Sheriff is a good one. I have been endorsed by all the newspapers every time I was a Candidate. I was under budget 12 years in a row. I took over an Office that lacked professionalism and instituted rules and regulations and consistent standards. The Office, sworn Officers, achieved both National and State Accreditation. This is the first time the Office had achieved either accreditation. My Office was also recognized as being a national leader on immigration, opioid abuse, mental health, school safety and jail reform. 

What action should Congress take, if any, to reduce gun violence?

The 2nd Amendment states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” I taught Constitutional law for many years. The Bill of Rights, the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution, which includes the 2nd Amendment was given to the people to protect them from the government. Courts have consistently held that the 2nd Amendment applies to individuals. In order to pass new gun laws a legislature must show a compelling interest and that they have exercised the legislation in the least restrictive manner possible. A 2nd Amendment case will likely require “strict scrutiny” in reviewing the proposed legislation. Hence, absent a Constitutional Amendment many proposed laws are not constitutional. However, I think it is important to get guns out of the hands of mentally ill and dangerous individuals. This type of legislation cannot be vague, nor can it be arbitrarily applied as many proposed Red Flag laws currently read. I would support and help draft legislation directed at the mentally ill as well as dangerous.

Is climate change real? Is it significantly man-made? Is it a threat to humankind? What if anything should Congress and the federal government do about it?

The Earth has undergone changes for as long as we know. I am not convinced that climate change is currently a threat to humankind. However, humans have suffered negative effects from prior misuse of the planet. Although, I do not believe the dire warnings that the end of Earth is imminent we are still called to be good stewards of the Earth. We can work to develop cleaner alternative fuel sources. The Environmental Protection Agency serves an important purpose. Corporate polluters should be prosecuted and sent to prison. We need to protect our water supply. We need to continue to spend money to research climate issues and what can be done to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. 

What should Congress do to ensure the solvency of Social Security and Medicare?

We must ensure the future solvency of Medicare and Social Security and the solvency concerns related to these agencies are genuine. The Social Security Administration has been buying United States Treasury Bonds for years. The federal government plays a game by doing this when they need money. Would the Social Security Administration be doing this if it was run by people that were not government bureaucrats? Local pensions invest the majority of their investors’ money in the market. Another problem these agencies face is the declining birth rate in America. Americans reproduce at the lowest rate in history. In order for the population of a country to continue at current numbers the birth rate must be around 2.3 children. The United States is currently below 2.0. Hence, we need to let Americans know that absent immigrants there will be no future work force to grow the economy and help support our seniors.

What should Congress do to address the student loan crisis? Would you use the word “crisis”?

I have 3 sons. My oldest son graduated college this year while my middle son is a junior in college and my youngest is in high school. The Illinois University system has significantly higher prices than other states. This is why my oldest son went to a state school in Iowa and my second son went to a private school in Wisconsin. One of the problems is that the Illinois General Assembly is so strapped by pensions that they do not contribute to the Illinois University System. I could cite many examples as to why the Illinois Universities are known for waste and unreasonably high salaries and pensions. I am not a proponent of “free college.” Peoples choices have consequences and there is a reason why people come from all over the globe to go to college here. There is no crisis.

What should our nation’s relationship be with Russia?

Russia is not the same country it was during the cold war. My wife is an Orthodox Christian and many over there are grateful for freedoms they did not previously have. However, Russia is still known for human rights violations and it did attempt to interfere in the American Presidential election 2016. Russia will do what Russia thinks is best for Russia. America needs to recognize this and do what is best for America.

What’s your view on the use of tariffs in international commerce? Has President Trump imposed tariffs properly and effectively? Please explain.

I think tariffs on international commerce may be necessary. Historically, America was concerned with the human rights violations in China. To stop these America gave China Most Favored Nation Status. We accepted their goods with little to no tariffs. China took advantage of us by devaluing their currency, stealing our intellectual property and dumping their goods into our markets. The United States is the great food exporter to the world. Illinois farmers suffered from the tariffs. However, President Trump wisely did give some of the increased tariff money to farmers. I think that it important that we protect farmers. America needs to continue to be the great food exporter and Illinois needs to continue to be the heartland. I am in favor of subsidies if that is what is required in a down year to keep the farmer going.

Does the United States have a responsibility to promote democracy in other countries? Please explain.

The United States attempts to promote democracy around the world have failed. The United States has spent too much money and lost too many lives from war. I would have a hard time citing a war subsequent to World War 2 that the United States was involved, and history wrote that it was a good decision. St. John Paul 2, Pope at the time, told George Bush that invading Iraq did not meet the moral litmus of a “just war.” A major requirement of a just war is that there is a reasonable chance of success. Some Islamic Nations are not ripe for democracy because of their interpretation of the Koran. The best way for the United States to spread democracy around the world is by being a good example. As Ronald Reagan described “a shining city on a hill” illustrating the marvels of capitalism, democratic elections and a pluralistic society.

What should Congress do to limit the proliferation of nuclear arms?

A nuclear attack by one of the 8 nations that have nuclear arms followed by a nuclear response from the United States would end the world as we know it. The climate would be transformed into an ice age with poisonous water, vegetation and animals. This is the greatest threat to mankind. More people were killed in Japan after we dropped the bomb in WW2 than were killed when the bomb hit. There is a Nuclear Proliferation Treaty and the future survival of our country may depend on being engaged in the world community for this reason alone. The United States should continue to engage in sanctions and possibly more, including bombing, to prevent rogue nations from getting nuclear arms.

Please list all relatives on public or campaign payrolls and their jobs on those payrolls.

My wife is a Supervising Attorney for the Department of Health Services. My oldest son Mark III works with me on the campaign and plans to attend law school in the fall.

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.

My 10-year-old dog is named Gipper. I admire Ronald Reagan for many reasons. Ronald Reagan could disagree without being disagreeable. He had a legendary relationship with Tip O’Neil the Speaker of the House of Representatives at the time. He made people feel good about being Americans. His presidency was not perfect. The National Debt increased significantly during those 8 years but on balance it was a very good 8 years,

What’s your favorite TV, streaming or web-based show of all time. Why? 

My favorite TV show all time is the Andy Griffith show. I like to laugh when watching television.

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