Thaddeus Jones, Illinois House 29th District Democratic candidate profile
His top priorities include rebuilding Balmoral racetrack, enacting stronger gun safety laws and increasing funding for schools.
Running for:29th District State Representative
Political/civic background:Former 3rd Ward Alderman, City of Calumet City
Member, Thornton Township Democratic Organization
current, 29th District State Representative
Education: South Suburban College
Loyola University, Bachelor of Science
Juris Doctorate, Loyola University School of Law
Campaign website: thaddeusjonesforstaterep.com
The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent candidates 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. Thaddeus Jones submitted the following responses:
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.
Through my civic work, I was able to sponsor HB331, known as the Tamara Clayton Act. Tamara Clayton was a United States Postal Worker who was shot and killed on her way to work while driving on 1-57 expressway. No one has come forward and her case is still unsolved. The purpose of HB331 is to direct IDOT to install camera on the expressways to stop shootings on area expressways. There have been at least 87 shootings on the expressways in the last two years. It is my hope that these cameras will assist the State Police in capturing people who shoot on our expressways and who endanger the lives of others.
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.
In my meetings with my senior committee, and my door to door conversations with residents, my top 2020 legislative priorites will include:
Rebuilding Balmoral racetrack and expanding economic development in the south suburbs
Cracking down on gun violence and enacting stronger gun safety laws;
Strengthening local schools and expanding opportunity by increasing funding for elementary and secondary education, expanding my male/female mentoring program for teens
Developing a strong women’s health program in my district to address access to health care
What are your other top legislative priorities?
3rd Airport for the South Suburbs
Working on the 2020 Census for my district
South Suburban College New Allied Health Center
- Providing $350 million in new funding for local public schools (SB 262).
- Making college more affordable by increasing funding for MAP Grants (SB 262).
- Fighting for an elected Chicago School Board (HB 2267).
What is your position on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed graduated income tax? Please explain.
Recently, I supported SJRCA 1 and Senate Bill 687. These measures make it clear that voters want millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share so the state can balance budgets and provide tax relief for middle-class and struggling families. Illinois’ current tax system is one of the most unfair in the country and places too much of the burden on middle class families; the Fair Tax is a step toward correcting this, but more work remains to be done to provide relief – including real property tax to middle-class families
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?
In this past session, I supported a budget that commits more than $1 billion to paying down the state’s backlog of bills. This was accomplished by going line-by-line through the budget to prioritize essential services like lifesaving breast cancer screenings, affordable child care, and health care, while controlling spending. This process has helped reduce the backlog built up during the Rauner budget crisis by billions, and we need to continue making the difficult decisions to balance the budget and pay down this backlog.
Should Illinois consider taxing the retirement incomes of its very wealthiest residents, as most states do? And your argument is?
I do not support taxing retirement income. My seniors will kill me if I supported this measure. There are better ways for our State to improve our financial condition than to tax retirement income.
What can Illinois do to improve its elementary and high schools?
As a GA member, I supported providing $350 million more to fund local public schools (Senate Bill 262). This meets and exceeds the commitment under the state’s new, more equitable funding formula. 100th General Assembly incumbents can note their support for the funding formula (Senate Bill 1932).
The 29th District is unique, in that, a portion of the district includes the City of Chicago. To assist with improving Chicago Schools, I supported an elected Chicago School Board (House Bill 2267), and further required board members to justify any closures to families (House Bill 2275). Furthermore, I also supported the release of $400 million in surplus TIF funds to provide additional funding for schools.
Moreover, items such as smaller class sizes, equitable access to nurses and social workers applies to South Suburban Schools just as strongly as having these measures in Chicago Public Schools.
Mass shootings and gun violence plague America. What can or should the Legislature do, if anything, to address this problem in Illinois?
Recently, I was Principal for a day at Unity CHristian School, and a student brought up this exact same question. My response to her was that , we can pass all of the laws we want to Illinois to fix or address Gun Violence; however, we can not legislate morality.
This pass session, we voted to Fix the FOID Act. Recently in Aurora, we saw how a criminal with a history of violent behavior recently exploited lax laws to buy a gun he never should have been allowed to own and kill five people. Fix the FOID corrects the glaring deficiencies in the system by strengthening background checks, closing the ‘gun show’ loophole, and requiring police to confiscate guns from criminals as soon as their privileges are revoked.
Without proper investment in local neighborhoods, Gun Violence will continue to soar. Once we pass stronger gun safety laws, a serious discussion on preventing violence must also focus on reinvesting in underserved communities. I have introduced bills to fund community-based violence-prevention programs, which had been gutted by Governor Rauner leading to a major surge in gun violence. It is my goal to bring these measures up again when we return in January-2020.
Do you favor or oppose term limits for any elected official in Illinois? Please explain.
Voters are empowered with the ultimate term limit every election. That’s why I work hard to ensure people in my community are heard.
If, as State Representative, I am not doing the following:
• walking door-to-door, making phone calls, hosting town hall meetings, meeting with advisory committees, holding open office hours, hosting meetings with constitutes and groups representing community members.
• asking for Legislation they have introduced or sponsored at the request of constituents or local organizations.
• or, if I am not providing Constituent services to my residents, then I do not belong in office.
The power of Terms limits rest with the voters who we have to respond to.
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?
Gerrymandering means nothing to a homeless person who can not eat, or to a family who just got evicted; or to a person in my district who Gas, Electric is about to get cut off. While many groups will try to focus on redistricting, the effort of empowering voters is larger than any one measure.
I strongly believe that the issue of redistricting needs to be part of a larger discussion on campaign financing and expanding voter participation.
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?
while this is a positive step, more must be done. I supported HJR 93, which establishes a Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform to conduct a thorough, bipartisan review of the laws governing lobbyists, elected officials and state employees, and make recommendations for comprehensive reforms.
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?
Unless we are going to put time restrictions of internet shopping, there’s is not a lot that we [the legislature can do to protect from identity theft. Consumers need to careful of who they engage on he internet and be even more watchful of the children using the internet.
I believe that we can review advancing pro-consumer protections and protect business interest at the same time. We have established the cyber protection committee int he GA that reviews these issues.
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?
research shows that outmigration of college students costs Illinois up to $776 million in lifetime tax revenue for the state, and untold lost opportunities when these highly educated and motivated young people create new businesses in other states. It’s no coincidence that the outmigration of students hit its height as Bruce Rauner blocked billions of dollars for our colleges and universities and vetoed MAP Grant funding.
I supported a budget increase that funded MAP Grants to ensure students from middle-class families can afford college. Further, we expanded access to map grants all four years instead of just one year, and create a new AIM HIGH merit-based grant for students.
Finally, we need to make college education more affordable, by encouraging students to attend community college for at least one year, and by expanding access to trade schools and vocational education. Additionally, we should continue to make smart investments in elementary and secondary education, expand access to dual credit programs and advanced placement classes so more students are prepared for college.
What is your top legislative priority with respect to the environment?
As a supporter of the Clean Energy Jobs Act, it is my intention to bring business and labor groups together to create tens of thousands of green jobs, while setting the goal of 100% renewable energy. This act must also focus on increasing minority participation in clean jobs and educational programs
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.
Harold Washington – The first African-American mayor of Chicago. Harold, as Mayor of CHicago, was Mayor during a time when racial politics dominated the area and sought to destroy his agenda for Chicago. He labored through those times and made advancements for Black people and provided a balance to those who were against him. He proved that politics is not a “bean bag sport” and that although a person may have good ideas; it takes a true leader to overcome adversity. I try to model my lessons of adversity from his struggle.
What’s your favorite TV, streaming or web-based show of all time. Why?
My favorite TV streaming show id Good Times.From the actors to the producers, they all recognized that Chicago (Suburban Politics) is the mecca of tough times. Although the show was based on a family in Chicago, all of their actors were not born in Chicago. The show reminded me of my life growing up in Ford Heights, and how my family struggles after my dad died when I was 11 years old. We didn’t have much food, much money and much promise for a bright future, but my mom scarified for all of her 13 children. Some of us made it, and some of my brothers and sisters became victims of the same system that I am fighting to protect residents in my district from. Either way, the show Good times is about the struggle that embodies my fight as a State Representative.