2018 State Senate 26

Election 2018 candidate: Tom Georges, State Senate District 26

Senate candidate Tom Georges talks with the Northwest Herald editorial board on Tuesday, Sep. 25, 2018 in Crystal Lake.
Senate candidate Tom Georges talks with the Northwest Herald editorial board on Tuesday, Sep. 25, 2018 in Crystal Lake.

For the 2018 November general election, the Northwest Herald sent out questionnaires to candidates running for office.

Those questionnaires from each candidate that responded are featured on our Election Central website for our readers to help you make informed decisions when you go to the polls.

The purpose is to help our readers to get know the candidates and where they stand on the important issues facing McHenry County this election. Click here to check out the rest of our questionnaires, videos and more for this election.

Northwest Herald Campaign Questionnaire

Name: Tom Georges

Age: 54

Town: Mundelein, Illinois

Office sought: Illinois State Senate District 26

Occupation: U.S. Army, Colonel (Retired), Self-Employed Real Estate Management

Education: Bachelor of Science – Northern Illinois University, Master of Applied Administration – University of the Incarnate Word (Organizational Development)

Elected offices held: None

Website: https://tomgeorgesforillinois.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TomGeorgesForIllinois/

1. Why are you the best person to represent the 26th District?

I was born and raised in the NW suburbs of Chicago, graduating from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. After college I was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the US Army Reserve, I returned home and began working at a family business and became a real estate broker and appraiser. After 10 years, I was offered an opportunity to work full time in the Army where I acquired leadership experience as a company commander, battalion commander, and director of an organization. During this time, it seemed there was rarely a month that I didn’t hear about something negative in Illinois on the national news.

After retiring as a Colonel, I returned home and began researching my elected officials. I found they did not represent the values of the people within the District. After looking into the voting history, it was apparent that our state legislators worked for the large dollar donors. Talking with numerous people throughout the district, I found that the current elected officials did not have the moderate conservative approach with the receptiveness to the socially progressive changing times.

It was apparent our legislators put their personal beliefs ahead of the safety and welfare of the people. I believe in the separation of church and state as a politician must separate themselves from their personal religious beliefs and the religious education received and do what is in the best interest of their constituents.

My opponent voted against the Federal Equal Rights Amendment and not voting for equal rights is like taking Illinois back 35 years into the past. Our children don’t want to return home to our district after college because there are newer, thriving, and growing areas developing elsewhere. This mindset of the past is what needs to change as we have current major financial, and educational issues to resolve. For these and many other reasons, I am running for Illinois State Senate in District 26.

2. What are your top three legislative priorities?

I always credit support for our military and veterans. Caring for and giving credit to those who have served to maintain our freedom and defended our rights as citizens of the United States.

For the three top legislative priorities I list 1 – Getting the budget back on track, 2 – Protecting Women’s Rights, and 3 – Providing checks and Balances regarding Fiscal Responsibility. I have outlined these priorities at https://tomgeorgesforillinois.com/priorities/.

1 - Getting the Budget Back on Track

Economic development (Working and investing in tomorrow and the future). Illinois must plan for and invest in the future and operate more like a business to create alternative forms of income. Infrastructure improvement/repair, lottery, and responsible recreational marijuana legislation are a few options. The development of new and safe forms of renewable energy is potentially a huge untapped market for job growth and economic development. Illinois must plan today for what is expected tomorrow and become proactive rather than reactive.

2 - Protecting Women’s Rights

Correction of past injustices (To do what is right and move forward as one entity). As we evolve over time, we must ensure that our legislators remain current and their voting records reflect the people they represent today not in a way which pushes Illinois 35 years into the past. Legislative votes should reflect equal rights. Legislators should ensure measures are taken to preserve the environmental beauty of our lakes and lands. Legislators should raise themselves above their personal and religious beliefs and do what is best for all individuals they represent, rather than that of the big donors who fund elections.

3 - Providing Checks and Balances with Property Tax

Providing checks and balances with property tax. Current fiscal responsibility (Dealing with current financial situation). Illinois must meet financial obligations and identify measures to help its people while gradually eliminating expenses, prioritizing and determine necessary operating and capital expenses. All politicians can talk about lowering taxes but is that realistic with Illinois in such a financial crisis. We need to cap current property tax rates, develop a check and balance system more than just the equalization process, and grow in the Illinois economy. Pushing the debt to tomorrows generations is not a solution. Spending cuts must start from the top and work down which should include staffing needs, and reduction in the many levels of Illinois government, to possibly include reducing the number of state legislators (with independent redistricting).

3. How will you be effective in a state Senate that is likely to remain under the control of Senate President Tom Cullerton and the Democratic Party?

I have a strong conservative background acquired with over 30 years of military service, I was endorsed by the Independent Voters of Illinois but on a social side, I believe in all of the Democratic values. That said, I think that I have an open mindset and understand the values of the District as they were instilled in me while growing up in this area. The area values haven’t changed but on my return from military service, it was very apparent that the areas legislative representation has become very extreme and polarized, not reflecting a true representation of the people. I think that I can be effective as a consistent, and stable voice of reason, having a conservative approach to many issues but still being socially progressive; keeping current with changing times.

4. Pension obligations consume a growing share of local, county and state government budgets, and the state has more than $100 billion in unfunded pension liability. What should the legislature do to address this problem?

It is important that all Illinois legislators work together and regularly pass a state budget. Illinois finally has an approved budget, but it is still one of the lowest rated states in the nation. I think it is difficult to resolve education, pensions, and property taxes without increasing income or other outside-the-box approaches to increase income. Progressive Income Tax, Increased Gaming and/or the investment in Clean Energy are options. The budget of Illinois does not operate like a family budget. Unlike families, state governments build, manage and/or maintain highways, parks, and universities; and provide services to help with health care, shelter and other basic needs. Also, to a varied extent, state government regulates business, helps stimulate the economy and must be prepared to act in times of disaster on a community scale.

Just like a business, if we stay stagnant, we will not keep up with the constant changing times and long term, we will not remain competitive as a community. So, property values will decrease while taxes remain high to cover expenses (just like they are today). Illinois residents, to include our college aged children, are moving away from our community as they are attracted to newer areas which are more robust, growing and offer greater opportunity. As we should adjust and stay ahead of change, we need to plan and manage expenses. We need to stimulate the local economy, promote growth to attract and retain people, business and ultimately attract our graduating college students back home to a thriving area. Either we grow, update, and adapt to changing times, or we regress and become a stagnant district.

Economic development (Working and investing in tomorrow and the future). Illinois must plan for and invest in the future and operate more like a business to create alternative forms of income. Infrastructure improvement/repair, lottery, and responsible recreational marijuana legislation are a few options. The development of new and safe forms of renewable energy is potentially a huge untapped market for job growth and economic development. Illinois must plan today for what is expected tomorrow and become proactive rather than reactive.

Many talks about taxes have occurred over a period of years but it is a continual topic of discussion. Taken from the Illinois Department of Revenue PIO-16 (R-03/16), “In fact, until the depression of the 1930s, property tax was the main source of funding for state government. Today, however, only local governments levy and collect property tax.” Most state income comes from Income Tax, Sales Tax and Federal Aid while property tax is most effected by county officials. Voters must look at the elected officials who have been in office for the last many years and vote for change at the county level for property tax. A state legislator that doesn’t have all the facts and is not up to date on all the requirements of local municipalities, who attempts to enact legislation which limits lower level elected officials from doing their job, is not acting in the best interest of the community. I do agree with capping current property tax rates and developing other methods of generating income to offset the requirement of raising property taxes in the future.

With over a $130 billion pension liability, I think legislators who try to convince others that just trimming expenses from the state budget will bring Illinois back in line in a short time period are greatly minimizing a major financial issue. Illinois needs economic development and needs to operate like a business, generating income streams. Similar to a business, if the state doesn’t adjust to the times, we will become stagnant and become secondary to other states and other areas where economic development is thriving.

5. Should the 32 percent income tax hike that took effect in 2017 be repealed? If so, how should the state levy income tax and at what rate?

If you look at property tax, we are one of the highest property tax states in the nation. That said, if you look at income tax, considering we are the sixth largest state, we are low regarding income tax. Legislators must plan to equalize the tax structure between income and property tax so not to penalize property owners. I haven’t specifically looked at the legislation addressed in this question but I am in favor of a millionaire’s tax.

6. Should marijuana be legalized for recreational use in Illinois? If so, how? If not, why not?

I am in favor of a state-controlled legalization of recreational cannabis use in Illinois in limited amounts. This would have to be discussed in detail and mutually agreed upon bi-partisan approach. All items require discussion to include: laws, distribution, amounts, growth, support groups, taxation, law enforcement, and other areas as they become topics of discussion to ensure it is approached in a complete manner. As law enforcement may oppose such legislation, medical professionals support.

I’m sure law enforcement did not want prohibition to end in 1933 but it was the will of the people in changing times. Drug use has occurred for thousands of years and it has only become worse regardless of all the law enforcement efforts. If anything, law enforcement is promoting gang activity, illegal drug sales, increased major violence, and developed an underground economy. Drug usage is not going away. Just like prohibition, we must get the driving factors of religion out of politics. Both drugs and alcohol are addictive. Just like a business, we must adjust to changing times, and manage an issue; strategically guide the current drug epidemic to a socially acceptable outcome. Legislators must wake up to a major and growing problem.

7. How can lawmakers provide property tax relief for homeowners? How will you work to make this happen?

Equalization between property tax and income tax as discussed in number 5 above.

8. Who do you support in the race for Illinois governor, and how would you work with that person to help the 26th District?

As I did when a military officer, I would support who ever is elected as governor and do what is in the best interest of Illinois to legally move the state forward and plan for the future. Both Rauner and Pritzker are proven successful businessmen. Although Rauner is identified as Republican, I think his voting record has proven him to be independent in a very politically divided state. As Pritzker is Democratic, I think we need major changes which better align to his campaign topics.

9. Illinois is among the nation's top exporters of college students. How can the legislature help to make in-state universities more affordable and competitive?

Our state universities must work together, acquire a better reputation and have a much better return on investment. Graduate tuition at state universities should be much more affordable and education for the first two years of undergraduate work at community colleges should be free for resident students. We need to return to the emphasis of the trades and the first two years of trade schools equivalent to the undergraduate level should be state funded.

My opponent voted against the Federal Equal Rights Amendment and not voting for equal rights is like taking Illinois back 35 years into the past. Our children don’t want to return home to our district after college because there are newer, thriving, and growing areas developing elsewhere. This mindset of the past is what needs to change as we have current major financial, and educational issues to resolve.

Economic development (Working and investing in tomorrow and the future) is key. Illinois must plan for and invest in the future and operate more like a business to create alternative forms of income. Infrastructure improvement/repair, lottery, and responsible recreational marijuana legislation are a few options. The development of new and safe forms of renewable energy is potentially a huge untapped market for job growth and economic development. Illinois must plan today for what is expected tomorrow and become proactive rather than reactive.

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