Running for: Illinois State House of Representative - 17th District
Political party affiliation: Republican Party
Political/civic background: Village of Skokie Human Relations Commissioner
Occupation: Neiman Marcus Amore Pacific Counter Manager & Win TV Global Leaders Network TV Host
Education: DePaul University (Master in Public Administration) & Northeastern Illinois University
Campaign website: yoonyesoe.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. Yesoe Yoon submitted the following responses:
1. 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.
Our State government should cut spending by 2.5 percent in every department this year, and each additional fiscalyear in order to cover the gap of the budget shortfall. I do not support raising any taxes in Illinois since we have almost the highest taxes in the nation. Also, State pensions are out of control. Fixing that will improve the State’s credit rating and allow us to issue bonds at a much lower rate of interest. This would be a short-term solution to a budget deficit.
2. 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 would give an “F” since Gov. J.B. Pritzker did not cooperate with the federal government to solve the coronavirus problems strategically, but instead he had been focusing on attacking President Trump that did not help us at all. Some of our citizens could not receive any assistance when COVID 19 hit Illinois very hard in April. Our citizens were struggling to get unemployment insurance as well as assistance from damages of the looting. Also, Illinois’ law enforcement has been weakened. The focus has to be on the citizens rather than the power game of political agenda.
3. 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?
It depends on what kind of reforms, but defunding the police is not a wise decision. I defend our police. Our legislatures should support allowing our police to give them better training and recommending to take simulation tests in order to prevent incidents like George Floyd.
4. Should the Legislature pass a law requiring all law enforcement officers to wear body cameras? Why or why not?
I disagree since there is no privacy for the police.
5. 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?
We should investigate all corruption cases.If this corruption is proven to be real, House Speaker Madigan and any other politician should resign. House Speaker Madigan has to take full responsibilities as a public official since he knows better what is right and wrong.
6. 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 have been serving as the Human Relations commissioner at Village of Skokie. Since I am a classical singer, I have been actively participating in Asian community and village events. We have monthly meetings to discuss allocating funds and sponsoring events that settle disputes among neighbors; safeguard the rights of citizens; promote unity and work in integrated ways to strengthen the community by encouraging the understanding and respect amongst residents of Skokie with various racial, ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds.
7. 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.
My focus is to restore all businesses in my district.
Firstly, many have been impacted by coronavirus. Small businesses have been damaged and many are suffering due to the pandemic, riots, and lootings. We should assist businesses by giving them special business tax credits or cut taxes temporarily to restore them. This will also help our businesses to hire back employees which will reduce the unemployment rate in Illinois.
Secondly, I want to reduce property taxes, which is the main reason many want to move out of Illinois since it is not affordable, especially during those difficult times.
Lastly, I will defend our police while proposing a special police training bill (simulation test). Many citizens want to have protection over their businesses and houses from looters but want to prevent any cases like George Floyd and Jacob Blake’s incidents.
8. What are your other top legislative priorities?
First, Illinois has one of the highest tax rates in the nation. The state is drowning in debt and the high taxes are out of control. It is so unsustainable that people and businesses are moving out. I will work towards eliminating the root causes of out of control spending. I want Illinois to be a desirable state to work, live in, and do business.
Second, I support fair maps which means opposing gerrymandering in the Illinois state Assembly. I will work towards a fair and equitable redistricting that will represent our citizens and not either political party.
Third, we need solutions to the Reproductive Health Act. Instead of using taxpayer money on abortions, why not explore other options, such as ultrasounds, adoptions, and foster care.
9. What is your position on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed graduated income tax? Please explain.
I disagree with graduated income tax. As I mentioned earlier, in one of my top priorities, I want to keep the flat tax at 4.95% so that everyone pays taxes from what they earned equally. Progressive tax will be a gateway to raise taxes in the future and wealthy ones may move out, then the middle class will be burdened to pay more taxes in the future.
10. 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?
Because of debts and our states’ financial status, Illinois has the worst credit rating of the fifty states. Like all debt solutions, we have to cut spending and allocate funds wisely. Also, most of the debts are from pension issues. We will need pension reform and that is better than raising taxes continuously since this will make our citizens move out of our state more. In my view, giving funds to higher education is necessary but limited to those who really need our financial assistance that meets the requirements.
11. Should Illinois consider taxing the retirement incomes of its very wealthiest residents, as most states do? And your argument is?
Instead of taxing more people, I would like to consider not to give any raises and do pension reform not dramatically but proportionally.
12. What can Illinois do to improve its elementary and high schools?
We have to measure how much funds are invested in our schools, and compare them with the outcome. We have to measure funding per students, teachers, grade, overall education, and policy grade. If there is any achievement gap, we should figure out the root cause for Illinois. We can open more charter schools, provide teachers and counselors after school to fulfill our students’ needs. Afterwards, we have to measure to see how our assistant is effectively delivered and what to revise afterwards.
13. Mass shootings and gun violence plague America. What can or should the Legislature do, if anything, to address this problem in Illinois?
Root cause is not having guns but violence. If we take guns from people, they will find other weapons to replace guns. Therefore, we should be strict on who can own guns and track black markets to minimize the violence. We should also provide better education or counseling programs where gun violence is more prevalent and rebuild the family.
14. Do you favor or oppose term limits for any elected official in Illinois? Please explain.
I used to think that term limits are not necessary to good leaders. However, from what I see in Speaker Madigan and the likes, I am leaning towards term limits since long serving public servants can be corrupt over the course of the time.
15. 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 disagree with gerrymandering but support fair maps. I want to work towards a fair and equitable redistricting that will represent our citizens and not either political party.
16. 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 definitely think that making the database of disclosure forms from lobbyists and state officials publicly accessible is a way to prevent any corruption in the state of Illinois. Transparency is a key for lobbyists and lawmakers. However, we should also find a way to measure if this law is effective so that we can revise accordingly.
17. 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?
Companies should not sell the client information to others without any consents regarding this. We should strengthen consumers’ privacy that can make them more secure and safe.
18. 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?
In-state tuition should have a “no-brainer” answer when compared with non-Illinois universities and colleges. However, this is not happening so we have to find root causes, then we should create more programs, grants, and opportunities. One known problem is higher in-state tuition as Illinois universities have to make-up for lower State subsidies caused by out-of-control spending and deficits.
19. What is your top legislative priority with respect to the environment?
Since we know how important it is to keep our ecosystem and balance the food chain, I would like to create more bills that help with keeping our ecosystem clean including protections forendangered species. Legal safety net is important to prevent the mass extinction of plant and animal species.
20. 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.
I love Dwight L. Moody because he was a true servant and had a heart for God and people.
21. What’s your favorite TV, streaming or web-based show of all time.
I like Law & Order drama since it is thrilling. As an animal lover, I like anything related to animals, whether shows or documentaries.