Position sought: State Representative
Campaign contact information:
Age and Birthdate: 45, Dec. 13, 1966
Family: Fine and her husband Michael have two sons, Jeremy (15) and Jacob (12).
Education: She graduated from Glenbrook South High School and holds a B.A. in Telecommunications from Indiana University and a M.A. in Political Science from French Northeastern Illinois University.
Occupation: Instructor at the Northeastern Illinois University Department of Political Science and Northfield Township Clerk
Political Party: Democrat
Official name of your campaign committee: Friends of Laura Fine for State Rep
Previous Elected or Appointed Offices: Northfield Township Clerk
Is there any additional experience you believe qualifies you for the position?
I am an instructor in the Political Science Department at Northeastern Illinois University where I have been teaching for the past 13 years. My focus is on American Government and a study of the Constitution. I am also the Clerk of Northfield Township, on the Board of Directors of Links North Shore Youth Health Service, a Northfield Township Food Pantry volunteer and active in my community. As a result of the variety of my activities, I have a good understanding of what our community needs when it comes to issues like education, the economy and our children.
What would your priorities be if elected to this office?
The first priority for my district would be to provide more accessible and successful constituent services. Many people are completely disheartened with what they perceive as unresolved conflicts in Springfield, such as the budget crisis and pension reform. However, through district wide events like town halls, I can provide my constituents with a forum to discuss relevant issues, have questions answered, and share ideas for solutions to the issues facing Illinois.
Another priority concerns jobs and the economy in my district. Many view the northern suburbs as an area where unemployment and hunger are irrelevant concerns. Such a viewpoint is a falsehood. The Northfield Township Food Pantry serves nearly 700 families living in Glenview, Northbrook and Northfield. Many of these clients were at one time donors to the pantry instead of recipients. We need to focus on ways to get residents back to work. We need to coordinate efforts between local businesses and the state to ensure families will no longer struggle to stay in their homes and feed their families.
My top priority for the state is a focus on education. As a teacher and a mother, I understand the importance of a solid education for our children’s success. We need to work together to improve education outcomes that do not rely upon significant new tax dollars. There are policy issues that can improve education across the state without dictating a one-size fits all approach. A team effort among students, parents, teachers and administrators can help to keep children in school and provide a sense of pride and achievement in their education.
Another priority is the high cost of insurance and the responsibilities insurance providers have to their customers. We can no longer have corporations dictating the type of health care we receive. We also need to make sure seniors have affordable access to prescription drugs. In addition, there are ways to both improve and streamline health care that can save the state millions of dollars. Both accessible preventative care and proper medical follow up can prevent relapse and save patients and taxpayers money to avoid an overlap of services.
At the same time, we need to focus on bringing integrity back to Springfield. Many Illinois residents are disgusted with unscrupulous politicians and gridlock in state government. Lawmakers need to buckle down and get to work addressing the budget and resolving the pension issue. One of my goals is to find reasonable fiscal solutions to the state’s problems. We need to look at long term ways to resolve these issues instead of short term, band-aid like fixes that bring the same problems back to the surface in the future. In order to accomplish these goals, we need to bring all parties involved to the table and open the arena to new ideas.
What sets you apart from the other candidates?
Many residents feel lawmakers are out of touch with reality; they are trying to resolve problems that they know nothing about. I can properly represent state residents as a result of my life experiences. I grew up in the 17th District, and decided to come back here to raise my family.
Prior to 2010, I lived the average suburban life: a mom, a wife and a teacher. That all changed when one morning my husband was driving to work and was hit head-on by a truck. The accident resulted in the loss of a limb. After a month’s stay in the hospital, we tried to find a new normal. However, it was a very rocky road. Faced with nearly $500,000 in medical bills, our health insurance company tried to rescind our policy and refused to pay our bills. We were faced with concerns about how to pay these astronomical bills from an accident in which we were not at fault. We considered selling our home, cashing in our kids’ college funds and our retirement accounts to pay the bills we thought would be covered by insurance. With the amazing support of our local community and the outreach of local lawmakers, our family made it through this difficult time. After about six months of uncertainty and confusion, and the threat of a lawsuit, the insurance finally paid, and our focus returned to healing. However, this experience has provided me with the life experiences to better represent people who face hard times in Illinois.
What should first be done by the state to keep businesses that have strongly voiced the possibility of leaving, such as CME and Sears?
The state needs to do everything it can to retain business, but it needs a more comprehensive and long range plan to accomplish this. Giving ad hoc tax breaks did not seem to be effective. We need to focus on green, sustainable businesses that will grow our economy while protecting our environment.
What can be done to help College Illinois?
In order to solidify investments into College Illinois we need to consult financial experts to find the best way to ensure the stability of the program.
What should the government do to create more jobs?
Despite its ideal location and its hub of transportation, Illinois is still ranked among the worst when it comes to a business friendly environment. To make Illinois a more favorable business climate and promote job growth, we must first look at infrastructure and transportation, especially rail transportation, and invest in improvements. If we put more emphasis on programs like the EDGE program (Economic Development for a Growing Economy Tax Credit Program) we will encourage more businesses to move into the sate instead of deciding to go elsewhere. In addition, we need to focus on investing in Illinois’ Green Economy. Not only will these businesses benefit our environment and the economy, but they can also increase our energy independence.
What are your philosophies on social issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion, and what should government’s role in those issues?
I support a woman’s right to choose. Civil Unions recently passed in Illinois, and this is something I support. I believe that same-sex couples should have the same rights under the law as heterosexual couples when it comes to financial, medical, inheritance and death benefits.
Do you support a gaming bill that would increase the number of casinos or other gambling venues in Illinois? Should a casino be built in Chicago?
I am not in favor of expanding gambling in Illinois. However, if it were to expand, I feel It is up to the residents of a community to decide if they want to bring a casino into their neighborhood. A referendum should be placed on local ballots and voters should make the final decision. Voters have the right to have questions answered like how casino gambling would impact the local economy and what, specifically, the money raised would go towards before making their decision.
What do you suggest for property tax relief?
The property tax system in the state needs to be modernized. We need to see a more fair and equitable system across the board so everyone pays what is right. We also need to see more fairness in recapturing reduced payments, as this takes a toll on local communities.
Should the state consider consolidating school districts? What would be the best way to accomplish this in your legislative district?
School consolidation needs to be in the hands of the local communities. Although the state can increase incentives for consolidation, this is a process that requires local input.
Should the state legalize marijuana?
I could support the legalization of regulated medicinal marijuana.
Are there ways to reform the legislative scholarship program, or would you support calls to eliminate the program?
I would support calls to eliminate the program.
Who are your political heroes and why?
There are two local politicians I greatly admire: State Representative Elaine Nekritz and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. These women are role models in their field. They are independent, intelligent, thoughtful women who bring integrity back to the political arena. They have a strong reputation of making a tough decision because it is the right thing to do, but not necessarily the popular choice. We need more leaders like these women to put Illinois back on track.
Have you ever been convicted of a felony, sued successfully or had a restraining order placed against you? If so, please explain.