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Democratic candidate for Illinois House in the 25th District: Anne Marie Miles

Anne Marie Miles, Illinois House 25th District Democratic primary candidate. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

On Jan. 25, Anne Marie Miles appeared before the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. We asked her why she’s running for the Illinois House of Representatives in the 25th District:

Hi. I’m Anne Marie Miles. I’m a mother, a wife, a lawyer, a social activist and I have a masters in public administration, a law degree and a masters in tax law, and I’ve been very involved in the community. I’ve been fighting for the rights of the disabled, of the elderly, the LGBTQ community. I’ve been involved in the Children’s Hospital and the South Shore Opera Company and the Hyde Park Transitional Housing Project.

My top priority is reforming the criminal justice system. I volunteer for Cabrini Green Legal Aid and I have seen many young people who do stupid things in their 20s, and their lives are ruined. So I think that if the government, the federal government, says that we can sunset tax breaks for the middle class, we can certainly sunset nonviolent felony convictions.

Hola. Me llamo Anne Marie Miles. Como madre, esposa, abogada y activista social, entiendo los problemas de nuestra comunidad y voy a defender los intereses de la gente de Districto 25. Gracias.

The Chicago Sun-Times sent the candidates seeking nominations 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. Anne Marie Miles submitted the following answers to our questionnaire:

TOPIC: Top priorities

QUESTION: Please explain what your specific cause or causes will be. Please avoid a generic topic or issue in your answer.

ANSWER: Criminal Justice Reform. I will introduce legislation that would seal all non-violent Class X and Class 1 felonies 10 years after completion of the sentence, provided there is no other criminal activity (except for traffic). In addition, I would consider introducing legislation to allow for sunsetting felonies into misdemeanors.

In addition, I also would propose raising the dollar threshold for felony conviction of shoplifting and other non-violent felonies.

Anne Marie Miles

Running for: Illinois House of Representatives 25th district

Political/civic background: Aldermanic Candidate for 5th Ward of Chicago in 2011 and 2015

Occupation: Attorney

Education:  MPA, JD, LLM (Tax)

Campaign website: annemariemiles.com

TOPIC: Top district needs

QUESTION: Please list three district-specific needs that will be your priorities. This could be a project that is needed in your district, or a rule that needs to be changed, or some federal matter that has been ignored.

ANSWER: The district will face extensive changes in the coming years with the Obama Presidential Center and the South Works project. I think there the following three items need to be priorities:

Transportation: I want to introduce legislation that dramatically improves transit for a 21st century world and beyond. Ferry services should be considered to ease congestion. State funding will be required for infrastructure improvements.

Environmental: It is crucial to determine the impact of manganese along with other environmental toxins, especially in the southern part of the 25th District. Prompt remediation must be provided.

Healthcare: We must work on improving access to health care and mental health services for all of our citizens. I believe that we should allow more citizens to buy into Medicaid. We must provide better health care for our citizens and focus on preventive care. Supportive programs for those dealing with gun violence and the effects of the opioid crisis must be expanded.

TOPIC: Pension debt

QUESTION: In 2017, Illinois’ unfunded pension liability ballooned to at least $130 billion. Do you support re-amortizing this debt? Please explain your answer. And what is your position on a constitutional amendment that would reduce the liability of the pension debt?

ANSWER: I support re-amortizing the pension debt. It has now ballooned, and we cannot pay it. It goes hand in hand with the budget deficit. We must ensure that we have taken the necessary steps to get our financial house in order before we re-amortize it so that we will receive a favorable rate.

With respect to a constitutional amendment, the political climate in Illinois is such that an amendment will not pass and pushing for such an amendment would further polarize the discussion and distract from real solutions to the crisis. As I have said before, it does no good to pretend these financial issues do not exist.

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TOPIC: Minimum wage

QUESTION: Cook County and Chicago are on their way to paying a $13 hourly minimum wage. Many suburbs in the county, however, have opted out of the wage increase. Should Illinois raise its minimum wage from $8.25 an hour? Please explain. And if you favor an increase in the state minimum wage, what should it be?

ANSWER: Yes. I believe that people working full time should be able to pay for the basic needs of their family. At the current minimum wage, two (2) full-time workers could not support a family of 4 comfortably. I support a state minimum wage of $15/hr.

TOPIC: Marijuana

QUESTION: Should recreational marijuana be legalized in Illinois? Please explain.

ANSWER: Yes. I believe that the legalization of cannabis will have a real, positive impact on our community given the overwhelming evidence and research showing its financial, criminal, and economic benefits.

I am campaigning on criminal justice reform.. Since SB2228 decriminalized possession of under 10 grams of cannabis in July of last year, the number arrests have dramatically decreased in the City of Chicago, from 3,339 during the first six months of 2016, to 59 for the second half of the year. However, the fines for this civil violation can reach $200, which can strongly affect the means of lower-income individuals.

Furthermore, the penalty for possession of over 10 grams of marijuana still ranges from a misdemeanor to a felony, with a maximum fine of $25,000, and up to 30 years in jail. I also note that cannabis arrests disproportionately affect the African American community, who constituted 78% of arrests in 2016. Legalizing marijuana could potentially lower crime rates in vulnerable neighborhoods, and improve the living conditions for all of our residents.

Legalization in Illinois could also earn the state between $350 and $700 million in tax revenue a year, according to The Marijuana Policy Project, and save the State millions of taxpayer dollars spent on enforcing possession laws. The tax revenue derived from marijuana sales could be directed at social and educational programs that benefit our community members. As an added benefit, law enforcement officials could focus on more urgent matters and offenses.

From an economic perspective, the cannabis industry would create jobs in the State of Illinois. Since the legalization of marijuana in the State of Colorado, over 10,000 new jobs have been created, which has boosted the State’s economy and lower its unemployment rate. In Illinois, the 4.9% unemployment rate could decrease due to job creations if this industry is legalized.

I pledge to vote in favor of bills legalizing cannabis for recreational and private use.

Bookmark the Sun-Times 2018 Illinois Primary Voting Guide

TOPIC: Casinos

QUESTION: Would you support more casinos in Illinois, including in Chicago. What about racinos? Please explain.

ANSWER: I am not crazy about Casinos and I understand the public health argument but given the proximity of casinos to Chicago I would allow more casinos in Illinois including in Chicago. I would also allow racinos.

TOPIC: Property tax freeze

QUESTION: A property tax freeze in Illinois has been proposed frequently since Gov. Bruce Rauner took office. What’s your position? If you favor a freeze, how many years should it last? Should the freeze exclude property tax increases to service the debt, make pension payments or cover the cost of public safety? Again, please explain.

ANSWER: I think it would be great if we could enact a freeze, however, it would take the power away from the municipalities and other taxing authorities. Public sentiment may change how local taxing authorities view their abilities to tax given the recent passage of the new Trump supported tax bill.

TOPIC: School funding

QUESTION: A revised school funding formula was approved this year by the Legislature and the governor, but a bipartisan commission has concluded that billions more dollars are needed to achieve sufficient and equitable funding. Should Illinois spend more on schools, and where would the money come from?

ANSWER: Illinois needs to spend more on its students. The money for this increased funding would come from a graduated income tax, a marijuana tax, decoupling of corporate tax breaks for out-of-state investments, and the LaSalle street tax

TOPIC: Opioids

QUESTION: How can the Legislature best address the problem of opioid abuse and addiction? Please cite specific laws you have supported or would support.

ANSWER: Opioid abuse and addiction are physical and mental health issues and should be addressed along with improving overall health options. Public awareness programs and treatment facilities must be funded.

There should be increased availability to Naloxone and other life saving antidotes to first responders, schools, churches and other appropriate community groups.

I would favor increased reporting of prescriptions by doctors, yet, I am concerned that it is possible that this increased reporting will negate all the gains that have been made in terms of pain management for chronic pain. As a health care advocate I have worked for many years to counteract stereotypes of patients seeking pain relief. I find it sad that we are now reverting to suspicion for every request for prescription pain medication.


QUESTION: Do you support a state ban on gun silencers? Please explain.

ANSWER: Absolutely.

QUESTION: Should all gun dealers in Illinois be licensed by the state? Please explain.

ANSWER: Yes. We need to be able to track all gun sales and if guns sold by certain dealers turn up in an inordinate amount of gun crimes, we will have to look at rescinding dealers’ licenses.

QUESTION: Should family members be empowered to petition courts for the temporary removal of guns from emotionally or mentally disturbed people who may be a danger to themselves or others? Please explain.

ANSWER: Yes. In Chicago, we think of gun violence as directed to others but suicide by gun is a real issue. Studies have shown that the time frame from the moment someone decides to commit suicide to pulling the trigger is 5 minutes or less. Having guns removed from emotionally or mentally disturbed people may well save their lives or the lives of others.

TOPIC: Medicaid

QUESTION: What would you do to ensure the long-term viability of the state’s Medicaid program? Do you support continued Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act? Should the state continue on a path toward managed care for Medicaid beneficiaries? Should everyone be permitted to buy into Medicaid?

ANSWER: I support Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act and believe that Medicaid can be made more financially viable by allowing and encouraging everyone to buy into the program.

TOPIC: College student exodus

QUESTION: Illinois is one of the largest exporters of college students in the country. What would you do to encourage the best and brightest young people in Illinois to attend college here at home? Does Illinois have too many state universities, as some have argued?

ANSWER: I believe we must evaluate the areas in which job growth is projected and we need to make sure schools are providing the most competent curricula for students.

The first thing is to make sure that we provide a world-class education.  We need to incentivize our best and bright through tuition waivers and grants.

Given the speed of changes in technology and other fields we much have a systematic way of evaluating the most effective delivery methods for educating students in Illinois.

TOPIC: Gov. Rauner

QUESTION: Please list three of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s principles, or decisions he has made, with which you agree. Also please list three of the governor’s principles, or decisions he has made, with which you disagree.

ANSWER: I agree with his decision to sign HB 40; and the reduction of fees for business start ups and renewals; and his support of the Illinois Future Energy Job Act.

I primarily disagree with the Governor in his understanding of the role of a chief executive. His refusal to negotiate with the Legislature resulted in a budget impasse that caused great harm to many of the citizens of Illinois and did nothing to ease its financial burdens. I disagree with trying to make Illinois a right to work state and his turn around agenda which sought to cripple collective bargaining rights.