Editor’s note: Early voting for the Nov. 3 general election is underway in Illinois. The State Journal-Register asked some candidates in contested races to answer questions related to the office they seek. See also our Q&A with candidate Chase Wilhelm, and writer Brenden Moore’s analysis.
Name: Chase Wilhelm
Date of birth: Jan. 17, 1984
Family (marital status and children): I’m engaged to my partner Lyndsey, who is an infectious disease physician and also serves in the Illinois Army National Guard. We do not have children.
Education: I graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Saint Louis University in 2006. I attended Eden Theological Seminary, graduating with a M.Div, and then attended Princeton Theological Seminary, graduating with a Th.M. in 2010. I also hold a Ph.D. in ethics from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary at Northwestern University.
Occupation: Chief chaplain, Illinois Department of Corrections; and deputy command chaplain, Army Reserve Element at United States Special Operations Command.
Relevant experience: 13 years of uniformed service to our state and nation. Experience balancing government budgets. Ph.D. in ethics. 18 years as a member of a labor union
Why are you the best person to represent the 95th House District?
I bring 13 years of leadership experience, a Ph.D. in ethics, and the experience of balancing a government budget to the table. I have the firsthand knowledge of the value of working a bridge job on Route 16. I’ve successfully led men and women of diverse backgrounds, traditions, and opinions, and I have the combat-tested leadership experience in being a voice for all those I serve. I know it is popular for politicians to discuss how they will support and defend our Constitution, but I am the only candidate who has been willing to sign on the line and do this wherever our nation calls. Ultimately, I am the best person to represent the 95th not only because of my experience so far, but also because I am wholly dedicated to placing the interests of all people first, and representing the entire district, not merely a party.
What specific ethics reforms do you feel should be enacted?
We need to end the partisan votes of our own legislative ethics commission that block the release of reports. We need term limits on leadership that are constitutionally mandated, as well as ethical campaign finance reform. We need ethics reform that never allows the power of the dollar to be above the power of the people. We must end the revolving door of politicians becoming lobbyists; and ultimately, we need ethical people, not only policies, in places of leadership.
There is increased focus on structural racism and police brutality in the country. What steps should the state pursue to address those issues?
The state must further commit to building coalitions with community partners who have long been entrenched in the fight against systemic racism and police brutality. These issues are not new to our nation, and there are incredible organizations that have been laboring in this field for decades, both secular and faith-based; strengthening not just relationships but coalitions between these organizations and law enforcement agencies is a step in the right direction. We should also commit to fully empowering our state and municipal law enforcement agencies with the funding needed to develop and implement training and curriculum that addresses these issues.
Is the state taking the correct approach to addressing the coronavirus pandemic? If not, what should be changed?
We must continue to trust science, not fear, and continue to rely on our state’s leading medical experts and support the incredible leadership of such agencies as IEMA. I believe our state could truly be in a significantly worse position had the measures taken early on not been implemented. With that said, I do believe we should empower local authorities and our legislature to play a more direct role not just in the conversation, but the implementation of how we move forward as a state.
What specific steps do you support to control state pension costs?
First, end, or at very least reform, Illinois politicians’ pensions. Second, provide the option of a 401K-style plan to new employees, and continue to support early buyout options. Third, cut spending and do this by first tasking agencies to develop a plan to cut spending on non-personnel (non-employee) expenses. Also, continue to explore hard asset transfers. In the end, sacrifices will have to be made across the board in order to solve this massive problem.
What steps should be taken to control property taxes?
Fully fund education and evidence-based school funding formulas, therein relieving potential pressure from local districts/municipalities in their need to raise property taxes. Task ISBE with the authority to study school district administrative costs to find and cut wasteful spending.
How should the state address efforts to promote clean energy?
Further support and ensure that the workers of our historic forms of energy are provided crossover training on clean-energy solutions, and recognize that a clean-energy effort should be a comprehensive three-pronged approach (wind, water, and solar) rather than a single supplemental option. If we want to get the public behind clean energy, we need to ensure clean energy also provides jobs for our residents.
What should the state do to promote job creation and economic development and stem the exodus of people from Illinois?
Provide small- and rural-business owners with more tax relief options that are connected to employing individuals from their geographic location. Implement further educational scholarships for Illinois residents that are tied to returning to Illinois for their vocation after graduation. Require a mandatory freeze on tuition and fees at state universities for in-state students. Implement clean-energy incentives for the building of clean power infrastructure and conversion of already closed coal-fired power plants. Continue to focus on and support economic opportunity zones, and offer incentives for companies and corporations that provide manufacturing jobs to return to cities and towns with existing infrastructure that has since closed.
Speaker Madigan has been implicated, but not charged in the federal investigation of Commonwealth Edison. In light of this, what should the House response be?
The House should implement leadership term limits without grandfathering in any current leaders, and fully support the judicial process that is already underway.
With the governor asking agencies to identify possible budget cuts, what specific cuts to which departments/programs do you support?
I support any cut that an agency identifies, with priority to non-employee-related cuts, taking precedence. Specifically, as mentioned earlier, hard asset transfers need to be further explored across all agencies. I would note that while many state agencies can become slow-moving targets for cuts, the reality is that our state provides a wealth of services to our citizens; we have incredible agencies that have continued to serve the people of this state throughout the ebb and flow of economic and budget crises. Each agency should be tasked, and empowered, with the responsibility of finding cuts for itself that do not impede the outcome of providing services, safety, and support to the citizens of our state.
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October 11, 2020 at 06:40AM