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Dan Ugaste, Illinois House 65th District Republican nominee profile

His top priorities include property tax relief, workers’ compensation reform and a water project in Pingree Grove.

Dan Ugaste, Illinois House 65th District Republican nominee profile, 2020 election candidate questionnaire
Dan Ugaste, Illinois House 65th District Republican nominee and incumbent.
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Candidate profile

Dan Ugaste

Running for: State Representative – 65th District

Political party affiliation: Republican

Political/civic background: Illinois Workers Compensation Medical Fee Advisory Former Board Member; (Past) Technical Advisor to Governor’s Office on Workers Comp Reform

Occupation: Attorney

Campaign website:

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. Dan Ugaste 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.

Illinois was bankrupt before COVID hit because of the inability to face fiscal reality. COVID cannot be used an excuse to continue down the same fiscally irresponsible path, but it does make recovery from the existing financial disaster that much more difficult. The legislature needs to start needs to immediately take up legislation that will save the State and local governments money, such as the 9 Workers’ Compensation bills I filed and the bill to merge the Treasurer’s office with that of the Comptroller. It also needs to immediately address property taxes in ways that create government efficiencies without decreasing services, such as the 6 bills I filed. By proceeding in this manner we will take the only action that will truly benefit the State by saving money, as well as making Illinois more attractive to people and businesses. Only by increasing our tax base can we hope to resolve the damage done from this crisis, as well as address Illinois’ many other problems.

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 think the Governor initially did the right things, but has gone about the re-opening in the wrong way. The first and primary problem I have is the reluctance of the Governor to recognize that he is not omnipotent in dealing with the crisis, but should be working with the legislature to continue extreme emergency measures more than 30 days. The language of the Illinois Emergency Management Act specifically states that the Governor may exercise specific emergency powers for a period “not to exceed 30 days” (20 ILCS 335 (7)), yet the combined length of the various closings mandated by Governor Pritzker in his Executive Orders goes far beyond that. I proposed that we change the law in May before the legislature adjourned and Pritzker should have joined those efforts, not fought them. I also believe he should have initially taken a more regional approach to the re-opening, as well as making certain that all rules and restrictions treated all people and businesses the same.

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?

Under no circumstances will I support defunding the police. Policing tactics and strategies should be review constantly on a local basis to make sure no one is intentionally or unintentionally causing harm or treating people unequally when arresting people for violating the law. I believe additional training would be helpful. I think we should remember that we empower the police, our fellow citizens, to serve as a protective barrier against criminal activity that is a constant threat to ourselves and our family, our property and our livelihoods. We asked them to put themselves at risk in a dangerous job interacting with mostly angry people (both victims and perpetrators) under stressful situations where they are required to make split second life and death decisions. No person can succeed in their work without the proper tools, training and support from their employers, and police officers are no different. We should find ways as a legislature and in our communities to support the police and help them improve.

Should the Legislature pass a law requiring all law enforcement officers to wear body cameras? Why or why not?

Yes. It is necessary to create an official record for both the accused and the police officer, who more frequently are becoming the accused regardless of the appropriateness of their actions.

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?

For the specific scheme involving ComEd and the people around Speaker Madigan, ComEd has already admitted their guilt and has agreed to fully cooperate in prosecuting all other conspirators. Although they were wrong to do so, ComEd was in a system and a culture controlled by Speaker Madigan. Mike Madigan is to blame, not only for the this specific scheme, but for his central role as leader in a system that allows a corrupt and broken culture in Illinois politics that has served to maintain his power at the expense of Illinois residents, taxpayers and businesses.

I have called for and co-sponsored various ethics reforms too numerous to list here that have never seen the light of day which I hope will be enacted after Madigan is gone. I have demanded his resignation as Speaker of the House and as State Representative. I have encouraged my Democratic colleagues, and my opponent, to demand his resignation as Speaker and as Chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party.

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 State office and/or my campaign I have hosted a food drive, offered food and supplies to those in need during the pandemic and have hosted one and am scheduled to host another blood drive. I remain active in my church and last went on a mission trip as an adult chaperone for high school students two years ago. Finally, I have filed legislation that will help my community (property tax reform, workers compensation reform, …) as well as other communities (lowering the amount of the match for pre-kindergarten grants) that in turn will help all the communities in my district.

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.

First, property tax relief – we need to start work on reducing the burden (consolidation of units of government, repealing unfunded mandates). Second, workers compensation reform that still protects our workers, yet is more equitable and less financially harmful to business owners. Third, a water project in Pingree Grove that is necessary for this community; which is one of the, if not the, fastest growing communities in Illinois.

What are your other top legislative priorities?

Bills that save taxpayers money by creating efficiencies in government (Comptroller & Treasurer, all Chicago mass transit agencies into one). Creating a fair playing field for all in Illinois. Creating more opportunities for our residents. All of which in turn will allow us to do a better job of taking care of our neediest and most vulnerable.

What is your position on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed graduated income tax? Please explain.

I am against it. I will not support another dime of tax or fee increases while the underlying fiscal policies and practices of Illinois remain in place. This tax will just cause greater harm to our economy without repairing (or event attempting to repair) our financial problems.

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?

Decades of fiscal irresponsibility needs to be reversed and it will be painful for every segment of Illinois’ population. Regardless of who is to blame for the problem, in addition to the solutions I have listed above, the reality of fixing the problem requires reducing spending, eliminating borrowing, and changing the Illinois Constitution to allow for a voluntary renegotiation of our pension debt with our public employee unions.

Should Illinois consider taxing the retirement incomes of its very wealthiest residents, as most states do? And your argument is?

No. See answer to 9.

What can Illinois do to improve its elementary and high schools?

First, make certain that all are adequately funded, which is required of the State under the Constitution. Second, stop passing mandates and repeal others, allowing parents, local school boards, administrators and educators to determine the best way to educate our children.

Mass shootings and gun violence plague America. What can or should the Legislature do, if anything, to address this problem in Illinois?

The legislature has done its jobs in creating the laws to regulate gun possession and usage. Law enforcement agencies need to be given the leeway to enforce the gun laws that are on the books. Prosecutors need to be vigilant in prosecuting the felons found in possession of guns or committing crimes with guns. Judges need to impose lengthy sentences on those convicted and not grant bail or electronic monitoring.

Do you favor or oppose term limits for any elected official in Illinois? Please explain.

I favor term limits. No official should spend more than ten years in the same elected position or as a legislative leader. If you have done an outstanding job as a public servant, you can always run for another elective office and do an outstanding job for a different branch of government.

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 like an independent commission to control the redistricting process to create a fair map that allows representation of all groups of citizens in compliance with the Voting Rights Act not just in this state but every state. A more bipartisan map and the regular turnover of legislators will force the best ideas to help the system work as intended.

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 voted for the bill even though it did not go far enough. We need ethics reform that requires greater transparency in our Statement of Economic interests; one similar to that required of the judiciary. We need to stop the revolving door from being a legislator to a lobbyist. We need to ban legislators from being lobbyists and other bills that will promote good government in Illinois.

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?

Because the internet and wireless companies are national companies regulated by the Federal government, I am not sure the state can effectively regulate their activity. I find the secret invasion of our privacy by these companies both disturbing and annoying, and if I were a U.S. Congressman I would propose a law to require each company providing service, access or software involving the internet, social media, computer software, cable entertainment, smartphone apps and similar products to proactively ask customers to opt in or out of their data collecting services and not be allowed to prohibit those customers from using the product or any function of the product in retaliation for not opting in. They make their money from the product itself and they don’t need to monitor, track and remove data from our devices to maximize their profit at the expense of our privacy.

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?

First and foremost, we need to provide more opportunities and a brighter future in Illinois for our graduates. Secondly, we need to revise the university system to a more centralized system instead of one with many boards. If we have a centralized system, the state universities will specialize and stop competing against one another, making for a stronger education in state.

What is your top legislative priority with respect to the environment?

Protect the environment whenever reasonably possible.

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.

Ronald Reagan. Despite being a fiscal conservative, he never lost his compassion for people and I believe always remembered where he came from.

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

Band of Brothers. It was a show that had people of truly good character and showed what we can do as Americans when confronted with any task.