Christopher Kasperski, Illinois Senate 31st District Republican nominee profile
His top priorities include addressing high property taxes, state spending and corruption.
Running for: Illinois Senate District 31
Political party affiliation:Republican
Political/civic background: Political Consultant and Campaign Manager for Senator Craig Wilcox.
Occupation: U.S. Army Combat Engineer (Retired).
Education:B.A. in Political Science with an emphasis in American Politics & Public Law. Minors in Pre-Law and Criminal Justice. Certificate in Homeland Security.
2020 Election Voting Guide
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The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent nominees for the Illinois Senate a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the state of Illinois and their districts. Christopher Kasperski 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.
Due to the State’s budgetary mismanagement, Illinois was staring at a $6 billion shortfall before COVID-19 blew another $6 Billion from the budget. The answer should not be to increase the taxes on anyone in Illinois. We are already taxed to the brink as it is, and we cannot afford to continue to lose taxpayers to states that treat and serve them better, as that will only increase the burden on those of us who remain here in Illinois. It is time for the state government to do what they have asked of every Illinoisan and prioritize its spending, tighten its belt, and make sacrifices as we are. Illinois should cancel the automatic pay increase to State workers, and Agencies should submit their budgets with a 17% cuts across the board. That would force the government to operate more efficiently and would begin to turn the tide of having such an onerous tax burden and would send a signal that Illinois is changing for the better. The government needs to do a better job of rooting out the corruption that has plagued it for too long. It costs the taxpayers more than just financially—people are losing faith in our government and its ability to govern itself, let alone anyone else.
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?
This pandemic was thrust upon all of us by surprise. I do not envy anyone who is in an executive position of power during times of crisis, such as these. Yet that is part of the job is to assume command during those times of crisis and to lead by example and always to strive to do the right thing. While I cannot say that Governor Pritzker’s motives were impure, I will say that he arbitrarily chose to exercise his emergency powers indefinitely until a co-equal branch could step in. The General Assembly refused to convene for more than three days, during which they delegated much of their legislative authority over to the Pritzker Administration to do their work for them. Governor Pritzker failed to exercise his power to call the General Assembly into order in Springfield. Of all the powers that he did wield, he ignored one that could have avoided a lot of headaches for himself and his administration. By prolonging his emergency disaster declarations without legislative approval, Governor Pritzker assumed powers that he arguably did not have and promulgated rules that made little sense to the science or the common sense. Given the abnormal and absurd nature of some of Governor Pritzker’s orders, I cannot even grade him at a “C” average. Yet I also credit him with leading when the General Assembly was hiding. Therefore, I would give him a grade of “D.”
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?
I think that our laws and the agents who enforce them should always be subject to the reforms that the will of the people want to have accomplished. Reforms should come with an effort to improve services, reduce inefficiencies, and avoid liabilities that the people inevitably have to pay for. We can always strive to do better. If we are seeking reform for the improvement of society, that’s one thing. However, I think this political movement that is calling for the outright defunding and dismantling of our police forces is a ludicrous concept formed out of spite and predicated on a guilt by association fallacy. There are bad police officers, inexperienced officers, and under-trained police officers. We ought to support our police and encourage them to better police themselves. Their job is challenging and dangerous, though, and I think that any reforms should be done in collaboration with the Police Union, rather than in contention with them.
4. Should the Legislature pass a law requiring all law enforcement officers to wear body cameras? Why or why not?
Yes, the General Assembly should require all police interactions with the public to be recorded. Not just for our protection, but theirs as well. We are coming to expect them in our society today, and it solves more problems than it creates. This is a reason why we should consider mandating police department grants come with the requirement that they form and adopt a department body camera policy that conforms to their community’s safety and privacy considerations.
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?
The ethics reform proposed by Senator Bush and her Democratic colleagues was weak and meaningless if they don’t intend on convening until after the election. Madigan is still receiving millions of dollars in donations and is spending it freely on behalf of the Illinois Democratic Party. Senator Bush has benefitted from over $1.2 million in contributions from Madigan that she has yet to return or donate. Madigan should not be able to elicit such enormous amounts of funding while wielding so much power and influence. The blame belongs to the legislators who have long propped him up by taking money from him.
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.
Following our successful campaign to elect Senator Craig Wilcox, whom I served as his campaign manager and political advisor, I became active with a local non-profit organization called Canines4Comfort. With C4C, we train our service dogs with other veterans and community members to mitigate a variety of medical and psychiatric conditions. My service dog, Lakota, and I have worked alongside other veterans as we continually work to train ourselves as dog handlers and our dogs for the world that they help us to navigate. I hope to be an inspiration to other veterans and to show that there are other ways of managing the wounds of war with a battle buddy by your side. Our veteran suicide issue needs to be addressed, and we hope that we can turn the tide of this crisis by leading by example.
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.
The first and most consistent issue that has plagued our district for far too long is the outrageously high property taxes. Sadly, Senator Bush failed to show up to Governor Pritzker’s Property Tax Relief Tax Force and has contributed to the problem of ballooning property taxes.
The second issue is that our district borders Wisconsin, and the onslaught of tax increases has people fleeing across the border to patronize their businesses. Often that trip entices them to make the move across the “Cheddar Curtain.” Companies and the families that rely on them are leaving the State, which only increases the burden on the rest of the remaining taxpayers. This tax and spend way of life here in Illinois needs to end.
The third major concern that I hear is about the systemic corruption that is plaguing the General Assembly. Seemingly every week, we are seeing another legislator who is charged; legislators wearing wires on other legislators; and ComEd’s bribery of IL Democratic Party Chairman and Speaker of the House Mike Madigan. Even as members of his party called for his long-overdue resignation, they continue to receive and benefit from his campaign contributions. Nor have they offered to return it to the ComEd customers that invariably paid for all of that corruption. Madigan must resign in disgrace and should be criminally charged for his corruption in this and any other case that this iceberg may have.
8. What are your other top legislative priorities?
This legislative session will have the tall task of redrawing the political boundary lines, and I want to be part of that discussion. For too long, our State has allowed heavily gerrymandered districts to tilt the political landscape. Between my training as a Combat Engineer in the Army and my studies in college, I am prepared to lead in that endeavor.
We must realign our budgetary priorities to represent the stark fiscal reality that the State is in. We cannot afford to chase more people out of this State, nor can we kick the can down the road by spending more than we take in. We must do the difficult thing and reduce the budgets throughout every Illinois government agency to service the growing pension obligations and allocate more state funding to our schools to offset their need to elevate the property taxes.
9. What is your position on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed graduated income tax? Please explain.
I do not support the effort to abandon the principle of equality under the law and adopt a graduated income tax. It is political doublespeak for them to call it the “Fair Tax.” There is nothing fair about using mob rule to siphon as much wealth from whatever arbitrary standard that they establish. They also cannot guarantee that the rates they have proposed now will remain that way for the foreseeable future. As more and more people and businesses leave this State, those who have the means to leave will be the first to take the opportunity, especially if they find themselves the target of the State’s insatiable appetite for taxes and spending. The General Assembly recently raised the flat income tax, and now this initiative proves that it was not enough to feed the beast that they have grown for the last four decades.
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?
The State needs to prioritize that spending and make the tough decisions to cut non-essential services until such time that the State is under better financial circumstances and new leadership. We cannot keep raising taxes and fees on everything in sight and not expect people to respond by migrating to a State that will treat them better. Illinois needs to radically change how it competes with the rest of the states in our nation and the countries around the world. We are not going to dig our way out of this mess if we don’t reverse our polarity and start attracting people and businesses to Illinois.
11. Should Illinois consider taxing the retirement incomes of its very wealthiest residents, as most states do? And your argument is?
No, Illinois should not tax retirement incomes. The wealthy can relocate their wealth somewhere else, and then we would lose the economic benefit that they provide here. We need to end this pervasive urge to find every single way to use government to take more money from people to pay for their decade’s worth of mismanagement, corruption, and over-promises.
12. What can Illinois do to improve its elementary and high schools?
We can start by adequately funding them. Our local schools have to turn to property tax levies to keep our schools open and up to State and Federal mandates. We have far too many school districts that create administrative redundancies that should be combined and reduced.
13. Mass shootings and gun violence plague America. What can or should the Legislature do, if anything, to address this problem in Illinois?
Illinois has some of the nation’s most strict gun laws, and yet we have a significant issue with gang violence in our State. We should stop blaming the gun and crafting onerous gun laws that invariably infringe upon everyone’s rights guaranteed by the Second and Fourteenth Amendments and the Illinois Constitution. This issue with gun violence does not stem from law-abiding gun owners. If anything, it is causing more people to become victimized by the aggressors because of the barriers to entry placed on their ability to defend themselves adequately. If we want to reduce our gun violence problem, then we need to increase our education about guns, and, yes, access to them. It should not be the case that people are waiting for nearly a year to get their FOID card. If the government cannot do its job to process them, then it should not be a bar from those who complied with the law. We also need to crack down much harder on violent street gangs, and bring them to justice and keep them away from the general prison population so we can reduce the amount of gang recruitment in our prison system.
14. Do you favor or oppose term limits for any elected official in Illinois? Please explain.
I strongly support term limits on the entire General Assembly, not just term limits on chairmanships of committees. We need to allow for a representative government to flourish once again. If the General Assembly knew that their time was limited in Springfield, I believe that more of them would work for the State’s betterment than they would for the advancement of their reelection chances. Three terms each in the House and the Senate is more than enough time to accomplish one’s policy goals and would force the lobbyists to work even harder to establish new relationships with new legislators every time they rotated out.
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?
We should challenge every incumbent who has failed to challenge the status quo over the last several decades. We need to sweep out the disconnected politicians and reinstate our government to represent districts that genuinely resembled them. We could draw the maps fairly if the process of doing it were not rigged from the start. As long as the Madigan Machine has the supermajority to get his way without a single Republican vote, then we will see this gerrymandering continue for the next decade as they establish the new political district lines.
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?
Lobbyists seem to be the most vocal opponents to term limits. That makes sense because they want to keep the relationships that they built. A cooling-off period is not enough to remove the sludge from the Springfield swamp. Lobbyists should not be made from former legislators of that legislative body. If they want to take that experience and lobby for a cause elsewhere, that’s their prerogative. I don’t think that they belong in the halls of the General Assembly to create lucrative deals for themselves based on their public service.
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?
I do not think that the General Assembly can legislate digital safety. I believe that having an overactive regulatory environment unnecessarily stifles progress in developing new technologies to secure our data better.
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?
If the State does not take steps to make it more attractive to people looking to settle and invest, then the State Universities will continue to see their numbers dwindle along with everything else. It doesn’t have to be that way, but we must change course from the fiscal crises that we are inheriting. Illinois needs to become more attractive, and that means making needed changes and bringing in new ideas, and shedding the corrupt and corroded old ways.
19. What is your top legislative priority with respect to the environment?
The emission of EtO from area sterilization plants is an issue that still needs to be resolved. I think that conservatives ought to be very conservative about our environment and natural resources. Sustainability is to be fiscally and ecologically sensible.
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.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin is my First Cousin removed 11 generations, and has been my lifelong hero and subject of substantial study. I have given lectures on Benjamin Franklin’s life and some of his unique ideas and opinions during his life and concerning the establishment of our nation. To have my family rumor confirmed by Ancestry was an exhilarating experience for me. I feel a connection with him and try to live my life by many of the lessons that he left for us to benefit from. He certainly earned his nickname as “The First American.”
21. What’s your favorite TV, streaming, or web-based show of all time. Why?
My wife and I enjoy watching historical period dramas. My personal favorite was HBO’s “John Adams” mini-series because the acting, set, and attention-to-detail is remarkable. My wife and I together enjoyed watching the Revolutionary War drama “Turn” as well.