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Don Walter, Illinois House 83rd District Republican nominee profile

His top priorities include expanding small businesses, freezing property taxes and offering “school choice.”

Don Walter, Illinois House 83rd District Republican nominee, 2020 election
Don Walter, Illinois House 83rd District Republican nominee.
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Candidate profile

Don Walter

Running for: 83rd District Illinois House of Representatives

Political party affiliation: Republican

Political/civic background: Election Judge

Occupation: Augustine Institute – Sales

Education: Business Administration (BA) Aurora University

Campaign website: votedonwalter.com

Facebook: Don Walter for 83rd District Illinois House of Representatives


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. Don Walter 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 is now on the verge of having a “junk bond” rating from Standard and Poor Global Ratings and Moody’s Investor Service from its already precariously low rating from before the pandemic. The interest rate on Illinois loans just to service debt is bound to rise even further. The answer from Governor Pritzker and the Democratic lead Illinois Congress has consistently been to raise taxes on the citizens of our district and remains the answer. High taxes have been driving people to move out of our state or for those capable to develop an exit strategy. Others are left living paycheck to paycheck. No matter how you slice it, a tax on any of us is a tax that all of us will end up paying for. The discipline to cut liabilities, with pension reform leading the list and cut spending to balance the budget has been lacking in Springfield. We must elect representation that is willing to do the hard work of cutting unfunded mandates and ending the corruption in Illinois. The economic outlook for Illinois should be among the highest in the nation and will only be realized by attracting businesses to our state with a targeted well-educated work force and a competitive tax rate. Creating jobs, lowering unemployment costs and letting citizens keep more of their hard-earned paycheck will increase revenues.

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?

C minus - Illinois’ number of cases and deaths are in the bottom of all the States, it’s that simple. The buck stops with him. The Governor was late to set regional areas for the control of the virus. His division of what are essential businesses and gatherings was not consistent. For several weeks every press conference is blaming the President.

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?

Aurora is building on the record of great community policing that lead to zero homicides in 2012. The second largest city in Illinois was able to drive out gangs, cut crime, citizens felt safe to walk the neighborhoods and was a big factor in the revitalization of downtown Aurora. This is a philosophy of policing that worked and should be taken up by local municipalities. Any legislation should be centered on sharing information between local and state authorities. Include both tracking of criminal information as well as citizen complaints of police officers misconduct in order to retrain officers and consider disciplinary actions if deemed necessary. We should commend and honor all our first responders who they, along with their families, have protected our great state.

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

No, local municipalities should decide.

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?

Long standing Democrats are to blame in their continuing pay to play politics, just follow the money. The Governor needs to call for a special session now to forward ethics reform, to consider penalties for felonies committed while in office and transparency of income. Yes, Madigan should resign.

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 am not the incumbent so not able to sponsor legislation. My initiatives have been faith based and centering on pro-life issues.

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, We need to expand family owned and employee owned businesses in our district by having someone in Springfield who will demand our district’s fair share of the Capital bill passed in Springfield. Second, freeze property taxes as a starting point to eventually limiting property tax rates Third, School Choice for parents, students and teachers to have control over their educational opportunities and follow religious convictions.

What are your other top legislative priorities?

An independent panel to draw legislative districts to take it out of the hands of either political party in power to choose their voters. Take up Pro Life issues that include protection for the unborn, healthcare and immigration reforms that facilitates citizenship.

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

Against. Further taxation on any of our citizens is a tax on all of us no matter how you slice it. We all pay when people leave Illinois or the extra cost of doing business is passed on to consumers or businesses close and jobs are lost. The Governor cannot force people to stay in Illinois or businesses to stay open. The inability of Democrats to discipline themselves from taxing Illinois residents is evident in by Gov Pritzker’s first two years in office. This brand of governing in other states have led to taxing retirement incomes in addition to graduated income tax.

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?

Elect Senators and Representatives who will consistently bring Federal dollars back to our state from Washington. Illinois consistently ranks among the lowest of states in terms of return on their tax dollars sent to Washington. Illinois pays the most in taxes versus practically every other state in the Union. The Property Tax Force in Springfield concluded without any recommendations. Taxpayers in Illinois are fed up with being asked to ante up. As for the higher education let’s keep more of our graduating high school seniors here in Illinois. Illinois ranks second in having the most high school seniors leave their state to go to an out of state college or University. We should look at keeping more spots open for our own students here in Illinois versus out of state or out of the country students.

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

Possibly, but not without some relief of property taxes for everyone tied to it as well. We must stop taxing people until they are forced to leave Illinois. At least the states immediately surrounding Illinois that do tax retirement income do not have a graduated income tax.

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

I am for school choice for parents, students and teachers to have control over their educational opportunities and follow their religious convictions. Look into consolidating school districts. Take what we have learned from E-learning during this pandemic and apply it long term. Expand opportunities for learning of trades that reflect the needs of the surrounding communities.

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

We have to protect our 2nd amendment rights. We can amend or tweak the gun laws we already have in place. Creating new laws won’t work if we can’t enforce them, another unfunded mandate from Springfield. The Henry Pratt shooting last year in Aurora was committed with a gun that should have been forfeited two years before. Communication and enforcement could have possibly prevented that crime. Let’s be sure any laws don’t violate the 2nd amendment and are enforceable.

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

I do favor term limits. Term limits, when combined with independent drawings of legislative districts, will reflect the changing demographics and weed out corruption.

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 favor an independent panel to draw legislative districts. We need to take it out of the hands of either political party in power which enables them to choose their voters instead of the voters choosing their legislatures.

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?

The more transparency the better. The Governor needs to call for a special session now to forward ethics reform to consider penalties for felonies committed while in office and transparency of income.

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?

All companies should be required to present a clearly stated “opt in” choice for this data to be collected and shared. In addition, be held responsible to compensate for any data breach that occurs, covering the cost to re-establish pre-data breach credit scores and losses occurred.

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?

I believe it’s not just the universities fault that out of state universities are attractive to our students. Students decisions are also influenced by the state of our state. They want to get jobs, raise a family and have a lower cost of living, they are finding other states that are more conducive to meeting that criteria. On positive note Illinois has a great network of Community Colleges that keeps a college education affordable. Illinois Universities need to keep more slots and scholarship money going to Illinois students instead of foreign students. The high rate of students leaving Illinois makes tax payers wonder what kind of return we are getting for our property tax dollars. Evidence shows that when students leave the state a high percentage never return.

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

Protecting our access to clean water for irrigation, drinking, boating, swimming and fishing. I remember when the Fox River was made practically useless by pollution. The entire state needs to keep vigilant to this key ecosystem.

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.

Dr Marie Wilkinson. The lasting impression that she made on our church and our community through her good works is still lasting. If you are from Aurora you just know: http://mariewilkinsonfoodpantry.org/maries-biography/

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

Outside of watching the Cubs I’d have to pick Survivor. The different personalities, the personal stories, the physical challenges and negotiating alliances make it interesting.