Illinois House 55th District Republican nominee: Marilyn Smolenski
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On Oct. 2, Marilyn Smolenski appeared before the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. Watch the video above to find out why she’s running for the Illinois House of Representatives in the 55th District in the 2018 general election.
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. Smolenski submitted the following responses:
Please explain what cause or causes you will make priorities.
Smolenski: Lowering property taxes. Illinois families pay the highest property taxes in the nation. I support a 1% hard cap on property taxes to save our homes and signal to families that they have a bright future here.
Changing the culture in State government and elected office. The politicians in Springfield are detached from the reality that families face throughout Illinois. As a survivor of domestic abuse, I’m disgusted by the culture of harassment in Springfield. I’ve dedicated my life to helping women protect themselves. Today, there is no accountability, no results, and no principles in Springfield so this culture of harassment has been allowed to spread.
Please list three concerns that are highly specific to your district, such as a project that should be undertaken or a state policy related to some local issue that must be changed.
Smolenski: The reason I am running and the number one issue I hear from local families is that property taxes are too high. Families pay more in property taxes than they do for their mortgage, and they can’t afford to stay. They can’t afford another six years of empty promises or political pandering. Our families need results that will actually lower property taxes, not freeze them at the highest rates in the nation.
Local families are also concerned about excessive airport noise and continued flooding in Des Plaines.
Who is Marilyn Smolenski?
She’s running for: Illinois House, 55th District
Her political/civic background:
- USO of Illinois
- Boy Scouts of America
- Special Olympics
- Republican Women of Park Ridge
Her occupation: Small business owner
Her education: AA, University of Louisiana at Lafayette/ BA, Gov State University
Campaign website: MarilynForStateREp.com
What are the most important differences between you and your opponent?
Smolenski: I am running to represent the families of my district. I’ve never run for office before and will go down to Springfield to serve as an independent voice for our community. I am running because I am not happy with the leadership shown by either party.
I am not taking money from Gov. Rauner, JB Pritzker, or Speaker Madigan so I can be independent of both. I am not beholden to politicians in either party and will be able to stand up to both parties.
My opponent has taken almost a million dollars from Mike Madigan. Moylan failed at every opportunity he had to stand up to his party leaders, to demonstrate independence, to hold those in power accountable. He instead props up our toxic political culture.
Moylan has voted for Madigan every time as Speaker and continues to support him despite the fact that the state is bankrupt and sexual harassment scandals have engulfed his campaign apparatus.
My opponent is so happy with Madigan’s leadership that he leads chants in support of the Speaker.
Speaker Madigan and the political culture in Springfield has failed us. They have failed to lower our property taxes, they have failed to keep women safe, and they have failed to improve quality of life for the families of our community.
I’m pro-business and look at legislature through the lens of a small business owner, I recently received the NFIB endorsement. Marty has a failing grade with both the NFIB and the IL Chamber of Commerce.
My first priorities in Springfield are lowering property taxes and fighting the culture of sexual harassment. My opponent has not called out his colleagues for misconduct or called for an independent or permanent Legislative Inspector General. During his six years on office our property taxes have only gone up while property values have gone down.
If families are ready for an independent representative who will hold both parties accountable I invite them to join our movement.
Illinois is now the sixth-most populated state, down from No. 5, after 33,703 people moved out between July 2016 and July 2017. What must the Legislature do to make Illinois a more desirable place to live?
Smolenski: High property taxes devalue our homes, drive up the cost of living, and are a structural barrier to business expansion and growth. Until we lower property taxes by driving down costs and reforming government programs, we will continue to see businesses and families flee. Today, families feel like they are just a piggy bank to fund the powerful’s political aims. To make Illinois a more desirable place to live we should lower and cap our property taxes and pass policies that demonstrate to families and businesses that we want them here.
In 2017, our state’s unfunded pension liability ballooned to more than $130 billion. What’s to be done about that?
Smolenski: We need to keep the promises that we have already made, that means we don’t touch the benefits or retirements already earned, we do need a new deal that is both fair to taxpayers and provides retirees with the financial security of knowing their retirement will actually be there. That means 401Ks for new government employees going forward and that means changes to COLA.
If elected, I will lead by example and I want folks to judge me by my actions and results. I am a small business owner who is going to Springfield to try and save our community. I am not going there to get rich or cash-in on lavish benefits. I will turn down the General Assembly pension program to demonstrate my seriousness about reform and lead by example.
From 2000 to 2016, the number of Illinois residents who enrolled as college freshmen outside the state increased by 73% (20,507 to 35,445). Why are so many more Illinois residents going to college elsewhere? What should be done to encourage more of them to go to school here? *
Smolenski: Students are headed to college out of state because tuition is lower plus once they graduate there are more job opportunities combined with lower cost of living elsewhere.
Other states are giving out of scholarships and are targeting Illinois students. Illinois can’t compete with other states or schools because our taxes are too high, our regulations are too burdensome, and our political culture is too corrupt. The cost of college in Illinois is driven higher by many of the same factors that drive up the cost of doing business here.
To make matters worse, we can’t fund higher education because my opponent and the political leaders in Springfield fund their political priorities ahead of our needs.
What laws, if any, should the Legislature pass to address the problem of gun violence?
Smolenski: It’s a multifaceted problem that is going to take a multifaceted approach by the city of Chicago along with local community leaders. It’s important to revitalize neighborhoods and bring in more job opportunities. Also, I agree with the new 2018 law: guidelines for judges to sentence repeat gun offenders at the higher end of the existing sentencing range, while expanding diversion programs for first-time nonviolent offenders.
I intend to explore all the options. I’ve dedicated your life to ensuring women are safe and promoting safety to prevent and decrease gun violence.
On-demand scheduling software now helps large retail companies determine how many staff members they will need on a day-to-day or even hour-to-hour basis. The downside is that employees may not receive their work schedules until the last minute. Oregon and a number of cities have responded by adopting “fair scheduling” laws. Would it be appropriate for the Illinois Legislature to pass a “fair scheduling” law? Please explain. What would such a law look like?
Smolenski: No, we should not pass ‘on-demand scheduling’ laws. Anyone who has ever had a flight bumped or used google maps knows that while computers can improve prediction ability they are not fool proof. Companies that require on demand type workers such as railroads, security, health care, emergency rooms, have workloads that cannot be accurately predicted in advance. The additional on duty staff would force service prices to go up which would hurt the end user.
When I talk about jobs, the number one issue I hear about is that there aren’t enough good paying jobs. We shouldn’t be passing legislation that will make it even more difficult for a small business owner in Des Plaines or Park Ridge to higher another worker. We should be trying to make it easier for them.
Should recreational marijuana be legalized in Illinois? Please explain.
Smolenski: No, I do not support legalization of recreational marijuana. As a mother of a teenager and a college aged student I know what it’s like to raise children in today’s society. Our children have enough pressures with underage drinking, vaping, and juuling. The last thing we to do is legalize a gateway drug that is going to put more pressure and cause more problems for them. Moylan and other politicians have no plan to balance the budget, so they are scheming for more ways to make money.
Opioid overdoses and fatalities continue to rise in number. In Illinois in 2017, there were 13,395 opioid overdoses, including 2,110 deaths. What should the Legislature do, if anything, about this?
Smolenski: Instead of spending money on core services and drug addiction prevention, Marty and Springfield politicians would rather direct $3Billion to the proposed speed rail. I’ll be in Springfield fighting for our families and important core services. The GA should also be supportive of other pain alternatives including chiropractic care and treating the problem instead of just treating the pain.
The Future Energy Jobs Act, passed in 2016, is generating job growth in renewable energy and improving energy efficiency. Do you agree or disagree with the objectives and substance of the Act? What more — or less — should be done?
The problem in Springfield is that you have a culture and system that protects and serves the powerful, not the average working families in our communities. This bill is the perfect example of the special interest groups coming together with the politicians of both parties to bailout a profitable billion-dollar national corporation on the backs of local families.
What would you do to ensure the long-term viability of the state’s Medicaid program? What is your view on managed care for Medicaid beneficiaries?
Smolenski: To ensure viability of Medicaid we need to continually be looking for waste, fraud, and abuse. The state needs to pay Medicaid claims on time, so more providers will accept it. Hard to keep going when you don’t know when you are getting paid for your services. This is another reason why we need balanced budgets!
Managed Care keeps costs down for taxpayers but doesn’t lower level of care for beneficiaries.
Underfunding at the Department of Corrections has led to troubling findings by the auditor general that many inmates don’t receive services or opportunities for work while incarcerated. Is this a legitimate concern? What should the Legislature do?
Smolenski: The state needs to better prioritize spending on core programs and programs that work. Despite a budget that spends $38 billion Moylan and the politicians aren’t interested in funding core services or ensuring that spending actually drives positive results. As a State Representative, I will invest money in programs that work and in services that help those in need. My opponent is content to spend your money, and continually come back for more when he runs out. Additionally, our Dept. of Corrections allows for volunteer and outreach programs that could be expanded.
Should the state restore the practice of parole for people sentenced to long terms? Why or why not?
Smolenski: I will look at the totality of any proposed legislation. With keeping the safety of our residents in mind, I would consider parole for those convicted of only non-violent crimes.
Ahead of the historic 2018 elections, the Sun-Times is teaming up weekly with the Better Government Association, in print and online, to fact-check the truthfulness of the candidates. You can find all of the PolitiFact Illinois stories we’ve reported together here.