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 Sommerkamp 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: Make Illinois the 37th State to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. It is THE most important thing that has to happen ASAP.
Reduce our carbon footprint by encouraging home use of wind turbines, solar panels, and green architecture. Considering the height restrictions various municipalities allow, I would love to see windmills in back yards all over the district. Some wind turbines are quite artsy looking. Windmills, solar panels, housetop wind turbines, and a myriad of other green energy alternatives are coming to market that will cost effectively reduce the need for coal, and natural gas and reduce energy bills for people in the district.
Evaluate and treat PTSD and depression without stigma for Veterans, Police Officers, Hospital ER workers, Journalists, Hospice workers and others who witness death and gore for a living. There are so many new technologies coming out for PTSD and depression. People don’t have to die (suicide) because they are too afraid to admit there is a problem. A lot of the research is in its infancy but when things come to market, lives can be saved.
Running for: Illinois House of Representatives 47th district
Political/civic background: Candidate for Downers Grove Township Clerk 2017,
Campaign volunteer Amanda Howland IL-6 2016,
Advocate/Educator for pre/ postnatal women & Seniors with balance, cognitive, and physical disorders 2013-present.
Journalist~Producer/Editor at WFLD 1987-1999 worked primarily with Political Reporter, Jack Conaty worked Democratic National Convention-Chicago 1996 end to end
Journalist~Producer/Editor/Photographer for The ABC Australia Washington D.C.,1983-1987 covered everything we could with limited resources. We got on and off campaigns for a week or two at a time, including Mondale, Ferraro, Jackson, used pool for Clinton in ‘84 – covered DNC in SF, RNC in Dallas 1984 Loved covering anything on Capitol Hill.
Video Journalist CNN 1980-1982
Occupation: Healthcare: Prenatal Educator-Northwestern Medicine Winfield, Aquatic Contractor at Brookdale Senior Living for Senior Citizens post-Stroke, joint replacement, Parkinson’s, and/or Balance and Cognitive issues.
Education: University of Missouri – Columbia, BA Speech and Dramatic Art
Campaign website: annesommerkamp.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: Widening I-294 from Burr Ridge to Elmhurst. The Central Tri-State Tollway currently suffers from congestion and limited local access, which impacts the region’s residents and commercial freight carriers. Future improvements need to address both issues, but it should be done in a way that considers future demands as well. The Central Tri-State is a roadway that serves many different types of users and plays a large role in the region’s economy and transportation network. In the recent past, areas of I-294 in the 47th district have been patched, which is obviously a short term fix. I am studying this matter as it has been a problem for communities along the tollway since “Move Illinois’” inception in 2015. I have a .pdf from a community meeting in Hinsdale outlining the village’s valid concerns. I believe with proper negotiations on both sides I-294 can be widened and the people of Hinsdale can be happy.
Bring more support to Access Dupage and DuPage Community Clinics, food pantries, and other service organizations for the hidden poverty in this wealthy district. If a professional person over 50 loses their job, it can be economically devastating. In addition, homeless veterans, abused women and other people experiencing economic hardships in the community need assistance to survive until they are able to get their lives back on track.
Police de-escalation training for all police departments in Illinois. One of my pet peeves is seeing people being pulled over for no reason other than the color of their skin. De-escalation training can teach officers to back-up, calm down, and process a situation before it gets out of hand. We don’t need any mishaps in this district, or anywhere for that matter, ever again. I fear the day when something DOES happen here.
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: Unless money falls out of the thin air the pension debt will need to be re-amortized. I support the Mortire plan which in layman’s terms refinances 90% of the 130 billion dollars owed by the State. The refinance is a 44 year loan to pay down the state’s unfunded pension liability. The state also has to pay the yearly amount due to the pension fund in order for the fund to remain solvent.
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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: The minimum wage should be at least $15 per hour. The increase should be implemented by a dollar an hour every year until $15 per hour is reached by the year 2025. Businesses will say they are going to automate jobs away. I believe if a business can automate a job away, the business will do it whether the minimum wage is $8.25/hour or $15/hour. California is a great case study in raising the minimum wage and having business and workers thrive.
QUESTION: Should recreational marijuana be legalized in Illinois? Please explain.
ANSWER: As more research is released on one of the active compounds in cannabis, CBD, promising medical treatments for pain, epilepsy, anxiety, diabetes, macular degeneration and more abound for medical marijuana. The only reason marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 drug is because when President Nixon declared the war on drugs in
1971, he wanted African-Americans and hippies (anti-war protesters) out of his hair. By making marijuana a Schedule 1 drug those groups could be locked up. I think marijuana should be legalized, regulated, and taxed. In Colorado’s first year after legalization the state Department of Revenue reported that official sales of recreational and medical marijuana from dispensaries generated $135 million of tax revenue.[Wikipedia] Marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 drug by the Federal DEA, therefore no federal banks can touch the business. Thus, it is still a cash business leaving dispensaries vulnerable. A State bank could solve that problem but then the problem of with a State bank is it would not have FDIC insurance. THAT is a conundrum.
QUESTION: Would you support more casinos in Illinois, including in Chicago? What about racinos? Please explain.
ANSWER: NO! I support putting more casinos in Illinois as much as I support giving heroin to 5 year olds. NO! Proceeds from lottery and gambling were supposed to go to the state to relieve debt and fund schools. Obviously THAT didn’t happen. Instead gambling addiction has cost many a marriage, left people without homes, and completely messed up lives. The potential negative social impact does not justify the revenue that additional casinos and racinos might generate.
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 would support a property tax freeze if the state gets money from other sources like the legalization, regulation, and taxation of cannabis, and/or the passage of SB 1970 or the LaSalle St. tax. The numbers don’t add up to support a full property tax freeze. While there may be waste, fraud, and abuse, some government/bureaucratic consolidation could help the budget. In Illinois, nearly two-thirds of all school districts pick up some or all of a teacher’s required 9.4 percent contribution toward their pensions as a benefit. This means local taxpayers are footing the bill for that individual’s pension contributions. In the grand scheme of things, based on what I know right now from research, I couldn’t support a total freeze. Perhaps there could be a freeze for senior citizens on a fixed income, or if the mortgage is underwater, and similar cases. When I get in office and actually see waste, fraud, and abuse, my journalistic training will not let me stand for it! I will shine a light on things that will make roaches run for the dark.
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 should spend more on schools, and secure pension payments with the money from the “LaSalle St. Tax” SB1970 when it passes. It is finally a tax that doesn’t hurt poor people. This tax charges $1 per trade on agricultural products at the CBOT and $2 per trade on non-ag trades at the CBOT and the MERC. It involves writing one line of code. The naysayers who think a dollar or two per trade is unreasonable don’t understand these small trade taxes exist in other parts of the world, the MERC and CBOT aren’t going to move because of this small transaction fee – too much hardware and software is here. Most importantly the people who DO this kind of trading are here. They won’t move away over a small transaction fee. These fees will garner, conservatively, over a billion a year for the State. I’ve seen estimates much higher.
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: Addiction is a mental illness, so it should be treated as such under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It’s crucial to educate and distribute Naloxone (or Narcan) to the public to prevent death by overdose. At the same time, it will reduce the stigma around addiction so those with the disease will seek treatment. Narcan kits should be in every bar and bartenders should be trained in how to use the kit. They should also be in every EMT vehicle, every school, and every police vehicle. We should also enact the “Good Samaritan Act”so if a person is high they don’t have to be afraid to call for help when someone is dying of an overdose. Sometimes the person who should make the call is afraid they will be arrested for possession, being high, or having needles or “works”.
QUESTION: Do you support a state ban on gun silencers? Please explain.
ANSWER: Yes I support banning silencers on guns. There is only one reason to use a silencer on a gun and that is to silence the shot. If someone wants to silence a shot, that someone is up to no good.
QUESTION: Should all gun dealers in Illinois be licensed by the state? Please explain.
ANSWER: All gun dealers should be licensed by the state. Liquor stores, hair salons, nail salons all need to be licensed by the state; so should gun dealers (stores and employees).
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: Guns should definitely be removed temporarily from the home of an unstable or disturbed person and the courts should move quickly. There are many situations when removing firearms would be a good idea:
Marital strife when one or both are not thinking clearly – guns should go.
Teenager with too many hormones coursing through the veins threatening to kill himself or parents -guns should go.
Family member experiencing dark depression – guns should go.
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: Healthcare is a basic human right in my opinion. Everyone should be allowed to buy into Medicaid. It is much more efficient and cost effective than having people go to the ER for every sinus infection, UTI, burn, cut, or scrape.
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: The best and brightest students go to schools that offer the best programs with the best professors and offer the best scholarship opportunities. Due to the two and a half year budget crisis in Illinois, Governor Rauner forced many of the best professors out of the state. They were worried about the reputation of the institution where they were teaching and concerned whether they would be paid. Another reason the best and brightest leave Illinois is that a good portion of the best and brightest live in DuPage and Cook counties. U of I cannot accept every qualified student from Cook and DuPage Counties because there wouldn’t be room for anyone else. However, bright kids from those counties can get full or partial scholarships out of state because schools are looking for people from all parts of the country. Also, what’s the big deal about young people leaving Illinois? Think about most Big 10 schools… any graduate from Iowa, Michigan, Indiana and some of the others who want to get to a city will likely choose Chicago.
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: Governor Rauner allowed HB40 to pass, He signed the Trust Act so police supposedly don’t have to hassle people about their immigration status, and he signed the Motor Voter bill which lets people register to vote when they get their driver’s license. 3 good things. The Governor let the state go two years and a half years without a budget while we were $16 billion in debt. He crippled the social service network and oversaw a major increase in the state’s unpaid bills. The Governor also is a union buster even though he “says’ he’s not. He betrayed his one time friend Mayor Emanuel by allowing the Laquan McDonald shooting video to be released. Oh that’s four – I couldn’t stop.