Running for: IL State Representative District 37
Political party affiliation: Republican
Political/civic background: The Ozinga family has a long history of civic involvement and community service. Following in this tradition, Tim Ozinga spent much of his younger years volunteering and supporting numerous non-profit organizations, both locally and abroad.
In 2008, as a business and political science major, Tim had the opportunity to take a break from his academics to work full-time on his dad’s, Martin Ozinga III, bid for U.S. Congress in what was the 11th Congressional District. Starting with that experience, he developed a passion for public service.
In his hometown of Mokena, Tim first served on the village’s technology committee and later served as a commissioner on the economic development commission.
Currently Tim is an elected commissioner for the Mokena Community Park District, where he serves as board secretary.
Occupation: Co-Owner & Executive Vice President of Ozinga Bros., Inc.
Established in 1928, Ozinga is a fourth-generation family business specializing in building materials and logistics. Starting from humble beginnings in Evergreen Park, IL, Ozinga has grown into a network of material and transportation terminals across five states with over 2,000 employees and is best known for its red-and-white-striped concrete mixers.
Tim is on the executive leadership team at Ozinga, where he plays a role in corporate strategy and organizational development and leads numerous department functions such as Sales, Marketing and R&D. In addition to his daily work activities, Tim facilitates the corporate and family governance development in the business.
Campaign website: OzingaForIL.com
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. Tim Ozinga 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.
Balance the budget. Our desperation speaks to how Illinois has handled finances over the last 40 years. Unbalanced budget after unbalanced budget has left Illinois in a dire situation without COVID. Illinois had the worst-funded “rainy day fund” in the country. Staring at a $6.2 billion deficit must begin with making responsible decisions in the budget. The Madigan regime has approached the state’s finances with their hands in the tax-payers pockets. If our legislature does not change it’s “kick the can” practices, COVID may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
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?
F — Governor Pritzker has moved the goal-posts on restrictions and requirements for all working-class individuals in the state. He condemned our elderly to a death sentence, keeping them locked down in COVID incubators, and was fine with Illinois’ economy going even further in the gutter. His only solution (it isn’t one) is a federal bailout. All the while, Pritzker has directed $55 million towards his efforts to pass a progressive tax that will hurt small businesses and working families even more. Governor Pritzker’s COVID regions put in place for his phases across the state were short-sided and indicative of his familiarity with the state of Illinois outside of Chicago.
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?
The General Assembly has already taken action by creating the Racial Profiling Prevention and Data Oversight Board to identify and address bias-based policing. It is incumbent on the Governor and General Assembly to ensure this oversight board is meeting.
Additionally, it never hurts any organization to take a step back and assess how they can better prepare or train their employees. Police departments can benefit from adding and increasing their scenario-based, hands-on training. Situational training intended to prepare them for the most adverse situations can benefit police and citizens alike. I support our police and understand the sacrifices they take suiting up for work every day; they do not have an easy job. I think implementing psych-evaluations for officers can make a significant difference for them. Police officers have encounters, calls, and altercations most of us cannot fathom or will ever encounter. The Chicago police suicide rate is 60% above the national average. Ensuring their mental health is documented, accounted for, and treated takes us a step in the right direction towards ensuring officers are personally and mentally suited to protect and serve their respective communities.
Should the Legislature pass a law requiring all law enforcement officers to wear body cameras? Why or why not?
I have no issue with body cameras. It will keep police and citizens in-check. Their dash-cams automatically turn on when their sirens go on; a body cam can sync the same. In today’s society, people are always taking videos with their phones. Sometimes phones capture the entirety of an incident; sometimes, they do not. Body-cams protect both parties involved and can restore objectivity to the law.
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?
Weak ethics rules for legislators and a culture of corruption in Springfield fostered by Madigan are to blame. House Republicans introduced a package of ethics reforms last November. The list includes: prohibiting General Assembly members and family members from performing paid lobbying work for local governments; transparency in communications between members and state agencies regarding contracts; limiting the power of the Speaker by allowing bills with bipartisan support to come to a vote; and greater transparency in statements of economic interest for members.
This list is only a starting point. The bribery scheme with ComEd (and further implications with AT&T and Walgreens) shows there is not enough transparency in the General Assembly or lobbying. Madigan should have already resigned, and Governor Pritzker should have already called for his resignation. Corruption has been the status quo for Illinois’ politics for decades, and as a citizen, I am fed up. I know I am not the only Illinoian who feels this way. The people must take their state back, and that begins with demanding the resignation of Mike Madigan.
Tim Ozinga 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 work you have done in other ways to improve your community.
Mokena’s Economic Development Commission, of which I am a member, encouraged and supported community development though promotion and incentives, including recommendations to extend select TIF districts in underdeveloped areas, which was successful in attracting numerous business to the community.
I am also an elected Mokena Park District Board Commissioner. Recently the Mokena Park District Board has funded various community health and recreation programs and events in the community. We have also reviewed and passed a balanced budget, which included new construction projects. Additionally, we had the opportunity to work hands-on with the community through surveying and community forums to develop a fully-funded new park using existing allocated funds combined with a matching OSLAD (Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development) grant.
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.
As I walked the district, the number one thing people were concerned about was their livelihoods and the opportunity for their families to not just survive, but to thrive, for generations to come. People are tired of seeing family, friends and businesses leave our state.
My first concern will be to restore and promote economic liberty in my district and the state. For Illinois to succeed, we need to be attracting more taxpayers, not increasing the tax burden on hardworking Illinoisans. We can accomplish this with an all-of-the-above approach that includes cutting wasteful government spending, responsible and fair pension reform, property tax reform and cutting taxes, licensing, and regulation. I believe every family and business should be given an equal opportunity to prosper and achieve the American dream, right here in Illinois, for generations to come.
The second concern is to fight corruption and self-dealing so everyday citizens aren’t on the hook for the mismanagement and poor governance in our state. We need to put an end to the “corruption tax” in our state. We can accomplish this through a more open and transparent government, ethics reforms, establishing term limits, and putting an end to the political elite’s gaming the system for personal enrichment.
My third concern will be restoring moral leadership to our state. For too long there has been a lack of trust between Illinoisans and their state governance. The hardworking people of our state deserve a government that is working for them, not the other way around. We need servant leadership, ethical values and constitutional-minded leadership in our state.
What are your other top legislative priorities?
Property tax reform: Nearly 3/4 of property taxes go towards education. We must evaluate why education is funded on the back of property taxes and hold state government accountable to its end of the bargain for education and municipal funding, as well as identify other mechanisms for funding. We also need more accountability and transparency on education finance and long-term costs of referendums and how taxpayer dollars are being spent.
Fair and responsible pension reform, starting with political pensions and benefits: Growing up, I was taught that the best leaders lead by example, and I believe that the pension reform journey starts with the political leadership. We need to put an end to golden pension and benefit plans for elected and appointed political officials and people serving in part-time positions. Politicians should have to follow the same rules and benefit systems that everyday citizens do, including saving for retirement and paying for healthcare benefits.
Real ethics reform: We need to put stronger ethics laws in place so that neither politicians nor their families or friends are able to profit from their political office. I also see a need to put restrictions on elected officials working as lobbyists.
What is your position on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed graduated income tax? Please explain.
My grandpa, Martin Ozinga, Jr., who served as a delegate to the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention, spoke out against the graduated income tax, and I will do the same.
Illinois does not have a revenue problem; we have an out-of-control spending problem. It is the excessive taxation that is driving the people that can afford to, to leave our state. This in turn increases prices and the tax burden on middle-class citizens, making it harder to make ends meet.
Our state government does not have a good track record when it comes to taxation; amending the Illinois Constitution to give politicians the power to adjust our income tax as deemed necessary will not end well.
Illinois continues to struggle financially, with a backlog of unpaid bills. 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?
Should Illinois consider taxing the retirement incomes of its very wealthiest residents, as most states do? And your argument is?
As similarly stated above, we cannot continue to try to creatively tax ourselves out of the financial mess our state is in. We need to stop kicking the can down the road. Seniors in the district I have spoken to are already stressed and burdened by their exorbitant property tax bill, which has become, in effect, a perpetual mortgage even though their home is paid off.
Again, as stated above, it is a losing proposition, because money often goes where it is appreciated. Higher-income people who believe they are over-taxed and can afford to move often do just that. We have witnessed large numbers of higher-income people leaving for other states with lower or zero income taxes, like Florida. We want to incentivize high-net-worth individuals to stay and invest in Illinois, not to seek greener pastures elsewhere.
What can Illinois do to improve its elementary and high schools?
We should review what is working in school districts and what is leading to successful outcomes for students and their careers. School models that are working well should be emulated. School choice and competition are proving helpful to a lot of lower-income students and their families in Chicago. We need to ensure that our taxpayer dollars are being invested in our children’s education and less toward administration. Further, not every child is geared to learn in classroom setting; college is not the right path for everyone. We should expand our thinking to include more hands-on vocational training or apprenticeships. As a business owner in the construction and logistics industries, I am well aware of the shortage of qualified trades people and professional drivers. These are high-paying careers with great benefits, but unfortunately many of our students are not being provided opportunities to pursue these paths.
Mass shootings and gun violence plague America. What can or should the Legislature do, if anything, to address this problem in Illinois?
We must appropriately enforce the laws already in place to deal with the violence problems we are facing. Additionally, we must hold criminals and law-breakers accountable for their actions. Far too often the perpetrators of violence are repeat offenders who were not held accountable to our existing laws. We must restore the sanctity and dignity of humanity by strictly enforcing laws regarding the protection of life and people’s right to live free from fear. Finally, we must recall elected officials who refuse to hold criminals accountable or selectively enforce our legal system.
Do you favor or oppose term limits for any elected official in Illinois? Please explain.
I am in favor of term limits and have stated that I will not serve more than three terms as this District’s representative. I believe, as our country’s founders did, that elected officials should serve the republic for a season and then return as everyday citizens, living under the same rule of law as everyone else.
Unfortunately our current system incentivizes people to run for and stay in office perpetually. The combination of inflated salaries (often for part-time work), combined with lucrative pension plans, benefits and opportunities for personal enrichment often motivates people to serve for the wrong reasons. In Illinois this has been proven time and time again by the multitude of public officials under indictment and/or investigation as we speak.
Everybody says gerrymandering is bad, but the party in power in every state — Democrats in Illinois — resists doing anything about it. Or do we have that wrong? What should be done?
Gerrymandering is bad. We live in a representative republic, and when our system of governance is manipulated by either party in power, it diminishes the voice of “we the people.” Mapping should be done in a common-sense, fair and equitable way that allows for every community to have a voice. This diversity of thought, ideas and competition is what is best for our future. Gerrymandering limits this competitive environment by the intentional creation of party strongholds and “made” politicians which conflicts with my belief in the need for term limits.
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?
Although this was a baby step in the right direction, it did not go far enough and demonstrated that there will be a lot of effort required to create true ethics reform in the future. The nature of this bill and the timing of it makes one wonder if its main purpose was political theater for a legislature under scrutiny. We need to enact simple and transparent ethics reform which addresses restrictions on lobbying head-on, not politically expedient window-dressing.
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?
In today’s day and age, many people are voluntarily giving up their privacy for “free” platforms like Facebook or for the convenience of Google. In reality, there is nothing free about these platforms, as individuals’ data and preferences are being trafficked for monetary gain. I believe it is important that the process is transparent so that consumers are aware of how their data is being used and that they must be informed if their data has been breached. Finally, there should be restrictions in place to protect minors. All that said, as most of these programs and platforms are voluntary, in the end, it is the choice of users to be informed on what services and providers to use.
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?
Universities must adapt their business models to stay competitive. This starts with figuring out what programs and schools universities should invest in that will provide for the best outcomes for prospective students – preparing them for jobs that are in demand with career placement opportunities. Next we need to look at funding to ensure the universities are right-sized for the student population and application numbers: the math has to add up, and when out-of-state universities are offering more attractive and affordable options, we need to adjust our model so we can compete.
What is your top legislative priority with respect to the environment?
Personally and in business, I believe in being a good steward to our environment. We have a tremendous amount of resources in our state and country, and we must look to leverage the natural resources we have available to the best of our ability, with a focus on the impact for the next generation.
As business owners we have leveraged resources like renewable natural gas and using the inland river system to reduce our diesel consumption and have found numerous ways to recycle byproducts, from fly ash to carbon, in our products, which has reduced our footprint. As new methods and technologies become available, we should keep our minds open to clean, economically-viable energy sourcing that reduces our dependence on imported energy and creates sustainable careers for our citizens.
I believe public, private and community groups can partner together to accomplish win-wins for their neighborhoods and the environment, as opposed to wins for litigators and special interest groups.
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.
Although not historical figures per se, I draw my inspiration from the generations of family members who preceded me in public service and believed in taking time out of their daily responsibilities to serve their communities and country.
My great-grandpa served as a Cook County deputy and later was chief of police in Evergreen Park before starting Ozinga Bros., Inc. Then the business was temporarily closed down while my grandpa and his brothers served in WWII in the Marines, Navy and Army Air Corps.
After the war, my great-uncle Frank served as an assistant attorney general in Illinois and later in the Illinois State Senate. My grandpa served as a delegate to the Illinois Constitutional Convention in 1970. My dad responded to the call to run for U.S. Congress for the 11th Congressional District in 2008.
In addition, my family has deeply impacted me with a love for community and country. The purpose of our business for generations now has been to have a positive impact on individuals, their families and the community, and that can be evidenced by our involvement in and support of numerous non-profits, both locally and abroad.
What’s your favorite TV, streaming or web-based show of all time? Why?
I’m a bit of an old soul and, to be honest, I’d prefer a good book over a TV show. I am typically collecting books faster than I can read them. My desk is usually covered in business books, and my phone is filled with personal development audiobooks. Some of my favorite books and audios are Good to Great by Jim Collins, The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni, and The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. I have always had a passion for learning and have made a commitment to myself to be a life-long learner.