We need a functioning government, accountable to the people. The first step in achieving this is to ensure that our electoral process gives us a government that truly represents the people and not outside interests - including the political parties.
- End Political Gerrymandering: *
“Fair map” redistricting. Political parties use gerrymandering to ensure they keep their power. This too often results in districts that are not competitive (so the office holders don’t have to be as responsive to constituent needs), and in legislatures that don’t accurately reflect the demographic and political makeup of the state. A bi-partisan group needs to be empowered to draw new districts that result in fair and accurate representation.
- Local Funding of Campaigns:
All money raised for a political campaign should be raised in the district. Outside parties have no business influencing local elections. Why should the Koch brothers (KS) or George Soros (NY) or the NRA (Fairfax, VA) or the Sierra Club (Oakland, CA), for example, have any say on who we in northern Illinois elect? If local chapters of groups like these raise money locally to contribute, that’s fine, but national organizations don’t have our best interests in mind when they try to influence our elections.
- 6 to 1 State Match for Small Donations
Under this system, the state would match small campaign donations (say, $200 or less) on a 6 to 1 basis. A $100 donation would end up giving the candidate $700. This gives the average voter a bigger say in the election, and consequently diminishes the influence of large-money contributors. New York City has been doing this since 1998 (at a 4 to 1 match level; the 6 to 1 level was set in 2007). By my rather rough estimate, this program would have cost Illinois about $70 million in 2018 (out of a $37 billion budget).
Increase bipartisanship in Springfield
The budget stalemate during the Raunder administration was a result of a breakdown in cooperation, and communication, between the parties, and between the legislature and the Governor. The stalemate forced many service agencies out of business, pushed several of our state universities to the brink of shutting down, and unnecessarily increased Illinois' deficit by billions of dollars. We cannot afford to maintain the toxic atmosphere in Springfield that results from our elected representatives putting the good of themselves and the party above the good of the people. We need to return Lincoln's government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" to the people.
I will work to advance several initiatives for making our representatives accountable to the people, rather than their party:
- Term Limits on Leadership *
While I don't favor term limits in general, I do think putting limits on how long officials keep their leadership positions makes sense. General term limits tells districts who they can and can't have as their representatives. Leadership limits, however, doesn't prevent districts from electing their favored candidates, but does guarantee a turnover in the "ruling class" in Springfield, which would allow for fresh faces and new ideas to rise.
- Split Leadership
Currently, one person can be both the leader of his/her party, and of a branch of government. This allows for too heavy a concentration of power. I would work for splitting these leadership roles - one could be a party leader or a legislative leader, but not both.
- Power Sharing *
In most elected bodies, from Congress to the State House to county boards and city councils, the majority party controls all the committees. When I first joined the DeKalb County Board, I successfully pushed to change that. Now each party controls a number of committees in proportion to their representation on the board. DeKalb typically has a 13-11 split, so the majority party gets 4 standing committees, and the minority party gets 3. This gives the minority party an active role in governing and a chance to bring legislation important to them to the full board. In practice, this has led to more communication and more cooperation between the parties, and better governance for the people of DeKalb County. I will work to bring this type of change to Springfield.
These will be uphill battles, to be sure. Getting to the top won't be easy. But if we don't try, it will be impossible to make the changes we need.
* Innovations successfully implemented on the DeKalb County Board