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November 8, 2016 — Illinois General Election
Ballot and voting information for Will County.
This is an archive of a past election.

District 49Illinois State SenateNovember 8, 2016Illinois General Election

November 8, 2016Illinois General Election

Illinois State SenateDistrict 49

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About this office

Senators serve a two-year term at one part of the decade and serve four-year terms for the rest of the decade. They introduce and vote on new laws, hold hearings, approve appointments to state agencies, and approve the state budget.
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Who’s Running?

You can vote for 1 candidate of 2 total candidates.
Candidates are randomly ordered based on how much information they have supplied. Learn more.
Business Owner
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  • Balance the budget in Springfield.
  • Improve how education is funded so all of the students of Illinois have the best opportunity to achieve.
  • Bring more jobs to Illinois by addressing the barriers to entrepreneurship, business taxes and insurance costs.
Profession:Business Owner
Owner, Redhead Rentals (2014current)
Owner/Bookkeeping, BSPI, Inc. (1991current)
President, Board of Education Plainfield District 202 — Elected position (2009current)
Trustee, Foundation for Excellence (2007current)
Member/Volunteer, Plainfield Junior Woman's Club (2011current)
Chair, Policy and Personnel-District 202 (2011current)
Member, Education Matters: Advisory Board Chaired by US Representative Randy Hultgren (2015current)
Master Board Member, Illinois Association of School Boards (2013current)
  • Vic and Shannon Wildenradt
  • Greg Nichols
  • Bill Slabich
  • Margie Bonuchi
  • Raquel Mitchell
  • Bill Alstrom
  • Matthew Starr
  • NFIB/Illinois PAC
  • Judy Praiss
  • Liz and Andy Foust
  • Phyllis Van Allen
  • Tamara Reichert
  • Jen Makowski Hoeft
  • Dianne Wuestenfeld
  • Susan Drury
  • Chris McLeod
  • Kerri McCastland
  • Diane Donley
  • Lucia Rossi-Nichols
  • Christine Mallo
  • Stephanie Kaspar
  • Julie Nuzzi
  • Matt Dorfman
  • Glenn Wood-Assistant Superintendent Plainfield Schools
  • Dr. Daniel Thorse-Assistant Superintendent Plainfield Schools
  • Edward Ronkowski
  • Cliff and Bobbie McGrail
  • Joan and Dan Prena
  • Steve and Paula Hari
  • Toni Manville
  • Jeff and Jennifer Bishop
  • June and Dom Dinardo
  • Stu and Pat Bledsoe
  • Bob and Michelle Stone
  • Tina Estopare
  • Dr. Lane Abrell- Superintendent Plainfield District 202
  • Pete and Laurie Pasteris
Campaign Name: Citizens to Elect Michelle Smith for Senate
Contact Name: Raquel Mitchell
Phone: 815-254-3422
Fax: 815-254-2735
Teacher, Education Administrator & state Senator
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  • Enacting sound budgeting and fiscal policy to close Illinois’s budget hole.
  • Encouraging job growth, starting with streamlined regulations, and education and training programs to keep workers in my district competitive and attract employers. 
  • Education, and support for schools in the district. 
Profession:Teacher, Education Administrator & state Senator
State Senator, 49th Legislative District, Illinois State Senate — Elected position (2013current)
Regional Superintendent of Schools, Will County — Elected position (20072013)
Principal, Channahon Junior High Shchool (20002004)
Assistant Principal, New Lenox School District (19982000)
Teacher, Providence Catholic High School (19941998)
Loyola University Doctor of Education, Curriculum and Instruction with concentration in Finance and Leadership (2007)
University of St. Francis Master of Science, Curriculum and Instruction (1997)
Illinois State University Bachelor of Science, Major in Criminal Justice Sciences; Minor in Psychology (1991)
Member, Joliet, Plainfield, Shorewood, Bolingbrook, Romeoville and Oswego Chamber of Commerce (20122016)
Board Member, Vista Learning (20062016)
President, Troy Educational Foundation (20112014)
Board Member, Will County Center for Economic Development (20062012)
Member, Zonta International (20062012)
  • Illinois Farm Bureau
  • Illinois Education Assocation
  • Illinois Federation of Teachers
  • Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans
  • Illinois AFL-CIO
  • Illinois Retired Teachers Association
  • Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois
Question 1

Do you support term limits for legislators? Do you support term limits for legislative leaders? Please explain.

Answer from Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant:

Often I will hear frustration expressed by my constituents who complain they cannot cast a vote on legislative leaders. That is why I introduced a constitutional amendment to limit legislative leaders to eight-year terms. This is a common-sense approach to ensure power does not rest in the hands of too few people both Republican and Democrat - for prolonged periods of time. Elected office should not be about personal gain or career advancement but about serving the people. Encouraging turn-over of leadership posts will bring new ideas and fresh thinking in the legislative bodies while allowing honest, thoughtful, and hard-working legislators - who can receive the support of a majority of their voting constituents - to continue representing their districts.  

Elections act as voter-imposed term limits for rank-and-file legislators. It can take years for elected officials to gain the experience and wisdom needed to best navigate the complex procedures and relationships of government. Moreover, states that introduce term limits for rank-and-file legislators often find special interests and deep-pocketed donors control more of the legislative process as long-serving lobbyist take advantage of the high turnover rates and inexperience to further their own agendas. However, I will never deny my constituents the right to voice their opinion on any issue and I would support bringing the decision to term-limit legislators to the people to decide. 

Question 2

Who do you think bears responsibility for the budget stalemate? Do you have your own ideas on how to resolve it?

Answer from Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant:

Political agendas and personal egos expressed by both sides are responsible for our current budget stalemate. If discussions between both parties were focused on budgetary items, I think we would be much more successful in passing a responsible budget. Unfortunately, this did not happen and we saw millions of people suffer the consequences of inaction. It is not fair - or right - to hold vital funding hostage in pursuit of political gain. There is simply too much at stake.

In order to resolve the budget stalemate, the process must become more open and accessible to rank-and-file legislators. I have seen my colleagues, Republican and Democrat, work together in a responsible and professional manner to reach real compromise, with limited ego or aggressive political rhetoric involved.  

To reduce spending, we can work to consolidate redundant government. There are more than 7,000 local units of government in Illinois, many of which provide overlapping services. At the state level, I support merging the Comptrollers and Treasurers offices and voted to eliminate the Lt. Governors office as well.

To increase revenue, we can prevent corporations from exploiting existing loopholes. I recently sponsored legislation - that is now law - to close loopholes allowing lobbyist to collect a tax-payer funded pension. We must take similar approaches to close loopholes for corporations, nearly 2/3 of which do not currently pay a state income tax.

Question 3

A June 3 New York Times op-ed was headlined “Higher Education in Illinois is Dying” because of significant funding cuts. Do you agree or not with Gov. Bruce Rauner that additional large cuts could be necessary?

Answer from Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant:

Higher education is dying because the governor chose to veto billions in funding appropriated by the Legislature and millions more in tuition assistance for low-income students and community college funding. 

Illinois is home to world-class institutions that are on the forefront of academic research and teaching in science, technology, manufacturing and the humanities. High-school students are looking out of state for higher education opportunities and enrollment is dropping. We need to properly fund education and our students. 

Question 4

How should the state’s school funding formula be changed to give all children a better chance at a quality education?

Answer from Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant:

As a lifelong educator, I know the challenges of providing a first-class education with limited resources. Our state school funding formula is both outdated and regressive and struggles to provide our children with a quality education. In the Illinois Senate, I have supported several education reform initiatives that address funding for low-income, English-language learners, and special education students - populations every school should receive adequate funding to service. In addition, the education funding formula must be updated to recognize the regional differences throughout the state and address funding accordingly. When looking at education funding we must understand the school districts are too dependent on local property taxes.

Question 5

Without a budget, Illinois is spending much more than it takes in, leading to an ever-growing stack of bills, underfunded services and a growing deficit. What new revenue sources do you support to help fix this problem?

Answer from Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant:

Springfields problems cant be balanced on the backs of working families Suburban families need relief, not more taxes and there exist solutions to cut spending and raise revenue without placing the burden on middle-class families.

First, Illinois can take steps to foster more small business growth which will create more good-paying jobs and expanding the tax base without raising taxes. My family owns an automotive repair shop in Will County and I understand the impact small businesses have on strengthening our economy and our communities. Thats why in the state Senate, I have sponsored legislation to require state agencies to identify and eliminate regulation that is overly burdensome to small businesses, provide businesses that hire long-term unemployed individuals with tax incentives and worked to lower the costs of starting a business. I also sponsored legislation to create the Veterans Entrepreneurship Loan Program to lend a hand to veterans who return from serving our country and want to start a small business in our community.

Next, we can take steps to cut redundant government spending through consolidation. Illinois has over 7,000 local units of government, many providing overlapping services. The costs associated with multiple layers of unnecessary bureaucracy can be eliminated to save money and increase efficiency. It can be done. As Will County regional school superintendent, I made our office more efficient and maintained school quality while cutting administrative spending.

Springfield also needs to lead by example when seeking to cut costa in search of reducing our deficit and funding necessary services. In the Illinois Senate, I have voted to cut legislative salaries; Co-sponsored a bi-partisan plan to eliminate the Lt. Governors position; And I support legislation to consolidate the Treasurer and Comptrollers offices to streamline service and save millions more.  

There is also the troubling statistic that two-thirds of corporations in Illinois do not pay a state income tax. When corporations dont pay their fair share, working families are forced to pay a higher portion of taxes to provide for healthcare and education services. We can take steps to close corporate loopholes and ensure those that do business in Illinois, benefiting from tax-payer funded infrastructure networks and first-responder protection, pay like any other resident.  

Finally, we must take steps to show investors and companies that Illinois is a stable and secure place to do business.  A critical part to putting our financial house in order is pension reform. Decades of kicking the can down the road has saddled Illinois with over $100 billion in unfunded pension debt. We cannot afford further inaction. A solution must be collaborative and involve all parties; Unilateral action is not the answer, nor will the courts allow it.

Question 6

A constitutional amendment is on the ballot that would require money raised for transportation not be spent elsewhere. Do you support this concept? Also, transportation planners say more money is needed for roads and bridges, Metra, CTA rail services and the like. Do you agree and, if so, where would you get the funding?

Answer from Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant:

I support the constitutional amendment and the concept that money raised for transportation should not be spent elsewhere. Illinois is a central hub for our nations roads, rail and waterways. It is critical to our state economy that we have a modern, strong, and dependable transportation infrastructure. We can raise revenue by streamlining services and consolidating redundant government, closing corporate loopholes, and getting our own financial house in order, including finding a constitutional solution to our pension problem.

Question 7

In the last session, the governor and Legislature turned their attention away from pension reform. What initiatives do you support to reduce the costs of pensions?

Answer from Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant:

Years of underfunding pension payments has left Illinois with a $100 billion deficit. We cannot afford to continue to ignore this compounding problem, and we must be collaborative in our approach by working to bring all parties to the table. In the Illinois Senate, I co-sponsored SB2404, a negotiated pension bill with input from unions and those impacted by reform. Revisiting parts of this bill would be a pragmatic step in the right direction.

Question 8

Do you support measures to reduce Illinois’ prison population and divert more money into community-based services?

Answer from Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant:

I support both efforts to reduce Illinoisnon-violent prison pollution and appropriate more funding towards community-based services. I believe there are clear and achievable means to reduce Illinoisnon-violent prison population in a safe and responsible way, like Adult Redeploy Illinois and Drug Courts. We can divert non-violent drug offenders into mental health or drug programs that aim to be rehabilitative not retributive.

In addition, we can do more to reduce the recidivism rate to keep repeat offenders out of prison. As it stands now, nearly 50% of ex-offenders return to prison within three years. We should invest more in common-sense approaches designed to help prisoners plan for their re-integration into our law-abiding society. However, the focus of our criminal justice system must never diverge from its intended purpose the safety of our communities. We must be vigilant about enforcing home confinement, electronic monitoring and necessary probation standards. 

Question 9

There are calls to reform the state’s civil asset forfeiture system, which allows police and prosecutors to seize and take – permanently – property from someone who has not been convicted of a crime? What is your view?

Answer from Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant:

I understand that civil forfeiture is a legitimate and critical tool utilized by law enforcement to combat major drug trade and criminal organizations. However, protecting law-abiding citizen from having their valuables or possessions seized is equally important. I would welcome feedback from police and law enforcement officials on how we can best enact reform.

Question 10

Do you support allowing transgender persons born in Illinois to change the gender marker on their birth certificate without undergoing surgery first?

Answer from Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant:

I support the Illinois Human Rights Act, which makes it illegal for landlords, employers and state agencies to discriminate on the basis of gender identity and I believe transgender persons must be afforded the same equitable rights as any man or woman.

Question 11

What is your view on so-called “death with dignity” — physician-assisted suicide — which has become a contentious issue in other states? California’s End of Life Option Act took effect on June 9.

Answer from Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant:

Death is the inevitable and unavoidable closure to our chapter of life. I am not opposed to making the right to die a personal choice - medical circumstances, spiritual beliefs, and overall well-being will vary from person to person but I believe there are already avenues available, like hospice care, that can ease the patients pain, cater to their spiritual needs, and provide as much comfort as can come in the face of death.  

Question 12

What measures do you support to reduce levels of gun violence?

Answer from Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant:

As we see in newspapers everyday, too many communities in Illinois are plagued by senseless levels of gun violence. Where you live should not dictate the amount of gun violence you face. All families in Illinois - whether in Plainfield, Maywood or Chicago - deserve to live in a safe and secure community.  

To combat the high levels of gun violence, we can work to limit the sale of illegal guns and crack down on illegal trafficking and straw gun purchases. We must also work to penalize those who try to circumvent waiting periods and background checks by bringing guns into Illinois from states with weaker gun-regulations.

But there is more we can do to to reduce the high levels of gun violence than more regulation and punitive punishment. We must tackle the root of the problem in many of the epicenters of violence - economic underdevelopment, impoverished schools, and high recidivism rates. By supporting job-training programs, after school clubs, and community health and wellness clinics, we can combat high unemployment and low graduation rates while keeping our youth off the streets and out of harms way. We must also continue to support organizations, like Ceasefire, with a proven record of reducing gun violence by recruiting and organizing community leaders to anticipate conflict and intervene before violence breaks out. 

Question 13

A number of states and local jurisdictions (including Chicago) have recently increased the minimum wage. Do you support or oppose a statewide increase in the minimum wage? If so, what should the new minimum be, and by when? Should local jurisdictions be prohibited from passing their own minimum wage laws?

Answer from Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant:

I support raising Illinoiss minimum wage because it is important to ensure hardworking families have the means to live on their earnings. Right now, hundreds of thousands of people working full-time jobs struggle to provide the basic life necessities under the current minimum wage - $8.25 is not a livable wage in 2016.

I have voted for legislation to increase the minimum wage to $11 and I believe a gradual increase to $15 hour is important. A higher minimum wage will have a ripple effect in promoting economic growth in our communities A higher wage will lead to workers spending more money in the community and ultimately encourage businesses to hire more workers. Everybody wins. With each new proposal it will be important to review the impact of higher wages on small business growth and development.

I oppose allowing local jurisdiction to pass their own minimum wage laws The myriad of regulatory hurdles required by each jurisdiction under this proposal would only burden businesses.

Question 14

In the past couple of legislative sessions, there has been a proposal to add a 1 cent tax on all sugar-sweetened beverages sold in Illinois. Do you support or oppose such a measure, and why?

Answer from Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant:

There are more sustainable and less burdensome ways to find a consistent revenue stream than piecemealing revenue like proposal to add a 1 cent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. When considering the merits of legislation like this, we must consider the impact on small businesses and taxpayers.

Question 15

In recent years, there has been a growing push to increase the development and use of renewable energy sources. Do you support or oppose these preferences?

Answer from Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant:

I support efforts to increase and develop renewable energy sources in Illinois. Current initiatives introduced by environmental groups, with the input of labor and industry, will update our current energy efficiency and renewable energy laws, pass savings onto consumers, and create jobs. One proposed plan will put us on track to meet the EPAs carbon pollution standards and increase our share of renewable energy, like solar and wind, to 35% by 2030, save customers an estimated $1 billion through energy efficiency alone, create 32,000 new jobs per year in Illinois, and make our state a healthier place to live for future generations. 

— August 28, 2016 Committee to Elect Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant

This 30 second spot focuses on Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant’s support for HB 576, following through on her 2012 campaign promise to cut pay for legislators and highlights similar reform initiatives sponsored by Bertino-Tarrant including HB 4259 which eliminated tax-payer funded pensions for lobbyists. 

Phone: (779) 379-5808

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