Updated: Sep 17, 2019
Supporting Our Illinois Workers
The biggest opportunity to create jobs in our area rests in the I-88 corridor that passes through our district. We already have the largest towns in our district and deep swaths of farmland that burrow around the interstate. Travel to our district is easily connected and easily navigable. Marketing the accessibility of our district is one way to sell businesses on investing both in building new brick-and-mortar buildings AND in assuming the lease(s) of vacant or abandoned brick-and-mortar buildings right here in the 90th.
Another way to sell our district as a place for businesses to lay foundation, is to offer access to a large labor force businesses can employ to work their mission. The way we do that is by investing in career centers and trade schools which already exist and by laying the groundwork for more to be built. Not built in close to the city or down in other college towns, but RIGHT HERE in the 90th. THAT's the way we draw people to attend class in our district, work in our district, and plant their roots in our district.
It is important--and a HUGE opportunity for growth--to invest in career programs that create alternatives to college for our young adults and returning students. With a knowledgable approach, we can bridge the connection for the high school-to-trade school pipeline and have right here in our hometowns a well-trained labor pool in which emigrating businesses will find value.
Now, there is no doubt that our daily lives would be much different without the decades of progress earned by our Labor Movement.
As your State Representative, I would stand with Union Workers and protect the efforts of lawmakers advocating for improved benefits and protections for our Illinois Workers.
The Lobby against Unions has no place in our Illinois civil laws and administrative codes. Illinois families deserve fair pay, fair hours, and benefits in exchange for a hard day's work.
And I'll fight the good fight right along with you.
Putting Public EDUCATION FIRST
The backbone of a thriving state is an educated society. The backbone of a kind, caring, decent community is an education society. The backbone of a competitive workforce is an educated society. Our priority must be legislation that puts public education first!
➢ Quality education for our children
➢ Equal access to opportunity for higher education
➢ Meaningful support for our educational institutions
What I mean by MEANINGFUL, is we have to have our educators' backs. We have to stand with our educators and fight for decent wages. It cannot be the case that the people most responsible for shaping our children's minds are digging into their own pockets to pay for classroom supplies.
Bottom line: We need to up our bottom-line. It's a community investment that pays off. After all, how skilled our workers may become, how knowledgeable our future leaders may be, and how helpful and compassionate our peers are to us, is all the lesson plan of our educators. Let's compensate them like we give a damn.
Getting ahead of the OPIOD CRISIS
At the intersection of law and addiction is an opportunity for Illinois: putting our substance abuse addicts in treatment instead of prison.
We need our laws and the enforcement of those laws to reflect the absolute crisis we are experiencing in the area of substance abuse and drug addiction. The across-the-board criminalization of drug use has created a system where we expect prisons to curb drug use instead of professionals in the field of substance abuse.
Using education, statistics, empirical data, and proven approaches to address the opioid crisis is the only effective way forward.
As your State Representative, I will invest my time and resources into exploring opportunities to responsibly address these substance abuse crises with the input of trained professionals, not the input of for-profit prison lobbyists.
Our district desperately NEEDS more in-patient treatment facilities for the addicts who are ready to turn to treatment and work hard toward recovery. Our district needs more out-patient venues to serve the high volume of cases coming through the doors of our treatment facilities on a daily basis.
With the numerous storefronts left abandoned across our district, there is plenty of space to make Better happen. It is a matter of putting into place the legislative action required to appropriate funding and encourage opportunity. Not only does facing this crisis head-on provide families in our district with a solution for their sons and daughters who have been gripped by substances, it also provides our district with the opportunity to create jobs in a promising and rewarding career-field. Sending our friends and family to recovery centers in Chicago comes at the expense of travel and waiting for an open bed...which all too often then comes at the expense of lives. By transforming buildings in our district into treatment facilities, we can make our district a more affordable treatment option for families across the entire State.
Ignoring the problem is not a solution. Blaming the addict is a missed opportunity for a better tomorrow. And the longer we vote for Status-Quo Springfield, the longer we leave our brothers, sisters, parents, children, neighbors, and co-workers exposed to a senseless-and solvable-crisis.
Whether you're a fan of the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obama Care") or you want it to hit the hay, the all-telling truth is this: we have a problem that needs fixing. We can "agree to disagree" all day long on what a solution looks like, but there is no more time to waste denying that a problem exists. Our people know too well that if they seek necessary care, they will be left holding an overwhelming tab. And, when that reality causes people to simply not seek the care that they need, it's the job of us as a community to come together and think of our options.
We aren't talking hypotheticals here either. This isn't "fake news" or hot off the press of the media pulpit. We are talking about actual people. Real-life people. Our grandparents and neighbors. Our sons and daughters. Our favorite co-worker and our long-lost acquaintance. They all have in common the unfortunate inability to cover humongous insurance premiums AND still pay the bank-breaking out-of-pocket expenses their healthcare plan conveniently does not cover.
The folks who have pre-existing conditions? The people who are between jobs long enough that last job's insurance is washed away? They still have families. They still have check-ups, emergencies, and continuing care. And these things come at extreme cost to the average Illinois family. Some hospital tabs are so high that it's downright debilitating.
Now, Illinoisans are strong. And they push through. They make payments and find a way. But, the truth of the matter is there has to be a better way forward. A more affordable way forward. A way that puts healthcare first and profit last.
I'm ready to address the issue and demand solutions.
Opportunities in AGRICULTURE
Our 90th District is an agricultural powerhouse.
Opportunities for our farmers are opportunities for our district as a whole.
That is why I would organize an advisory team to research the potential for hemp crop to grow in our fields here at home.
The popularity of canniboid oil (CBD) and the expansion of industry uses for hemp-grown products, has proven that hemp is a crop of opportunity in a changing world of human consumption and consumer products. Through the use of creative legislative incentive packages and fiscally-sound subsidy plans, we can ensure that our farming operations have suitable equipment, suitable growth factors, and suitable access to industry contracts.
This puts our district on the map as an area for investment and return.
A silly thing happens when we discuss mental health: people get uncomfortable. The strange thing is, though, that mental health touches almost every, single one of us in one way or another. And, it's not unforeseen that people aren't sure how to talk about these types of issues. After all, our culture is one that hushes away mental health awareness, as if it is some sort of dirty secret we ought keep to ourselves.
Mental health has been a stigma for far too long, and the progress cannot begin to fully develop until we change the conversation.
Our courts, hospitals, prisons, schools, and public agencies need new framework for how to engage mental health. We have consistently ensured that those with mental illness be relegated to institutions, whether that be psychiatric facilities or the prison system. And when we fail to appropriately identify mental health concerns and properly engage individuals with services, we miss the opportunity to embrace that all people have dignity.
These are our friends and family. These are people. People who have stories and families and dreams to fulfill.
The good news is that we have entire career fields inspired to facilitate progress and restore fitness. We just need laws in place that promote an environment where these career fields may thrive in helping our family members and friends.
We need leaders who understand that, in order to make progress, we need to cure the fact that our mental health programs are massively under-funded. Training professionals in the various fields who engage with mental health issues daily needs to be increased and requires continuity within the training so that industries are addressing people as a united front on a shared mission.
We can do better, my friends. It all depends on who we put in a position to bring the help home. With your vote, I can get to work on one of our district's most important issues!
Investing in PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
What do the following individuals have in common?
• 34-year old third-shift factory worker who has a DUI-based suspension of his license
• 91-year old great-great grandmother whose license was cancelled due to poor vision
• 22-year old woman with Down Syndrome who has never attained her license
• 43-year old father who is largely behind on child support payments
• 19-year old college student who had two speeding tickets before the age of twenty-one.
...Each person listed above faces incredible difficulty with the simple functions of life: getting to work, getting to the grocery store, dropping children off to child-care, attending family functions, and arriving timely to medical appointments.
Greater investment in public transportation creates accessibility to the American Dream:
the opportunity to work hard,
provide for yourself and your family,
climb the ladder by earning opportunities to advance,
and retire to enjoy the life you built for yourself.
Without public transportation options, the people in our rural 90th District face challenges in connecting to opportunity. Providing our people accessible lines of transit is key to increasing accessibility to available resources and to opportunity to grow for those in Lee, Ogle, Dekalb, and Lasalle Counties. Individuals who are unable to lawfully drive nonetheless have needs that require their ability to travel the roadways from one place to another. Whether a person lost his license due to medical reasons, criminally-related reasons, failure to pay child support, or for having too many moving violations within a specified time period, that person still needs to be able to get to work.
Wonderfully, an investment in public transportation will also bring jobs to our area! Good-paying jobs for the men and women needed to drive the various modes of transportation, good-paying jobs for the mechanics who will be needed to maintain the equipment, and good-paying jobs for the schedulers, organizers, and various components of public transit administration who will be needed to keep lines on the go!