Shaw Local News Network
Apr 30, 2022
Illinois House of Representatives 42nd District candidate Stefanie Hood answered Shaw Local’s election questionnaire for the Illinois House primary election.
Voting ends for the primary election on the evening of June 28.
Full Name: Stefanie Hood
What office are you seeking? State Representative, District 42
What offices, if any, have you previously held? None
City: Glen Ellyn
Occupation: Lawyer Education University of Illinois, Bachelor of Arts in Economics
University of Illinois Chicago Law School, Juris Doctorate
What are the top issues facing your district and what would you like to do to address those issues?
1) High Taxes: Illinois has the highest overall tax burden, including the second-highest property taxes in the U.S. Concerns about rising taxes and inflation are forcing residents and businesses out of Illinois to other states with a lower cost of living. I would support policies that increase economic growth and provide taxpayers permanent tax relief.
2) Education: Establishing and implementing high-quality education for our children is a priority. However, increased government spending is not reflected in student achievement. Nearly two-thirds of students in Illinois do not read or perform math at grade level. We must give our teachers the tools and resources necessary to provide quality education, especially with the challenges caused by COVID-19. I support local control of education and curriculum transparency.
3) Public Safety: Rising crime and a significant loss of police officers puts residents and families at risk throughout Illinois. Eliminating cash bail and regulating law enforcement under the SAFE-T Act only empowers criminals and exacerbates the problem. I fully support law enforcement and will ensure that they have the necessary training and resources to effectively protect our neighborhoods and families.
If COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths rise again, what mitigations, if any, should the state pursue?
New mitigation must be appropriately examined through research and expert advice from public health professionals and implemented only upon approval of the legislature. A unilateral approach to restrict certain rights without a system of checks and balances is an abuse of executive power. Illinois needs to establish legislative oversight of the executive branch’s use of emergency powers. A collaborative approach with health experts and the legislature would encourage an appropriate response to protect public health while representing the rights of individuals and businesses within our communities.
In light of Michael Madigan’s indictment, what steps should the legislature take to address corruption and ethics concerns in the state?
Illinois needs meaningful ethics reform to eliminate the culture of corruption and restore public trust in government. Public officials must be held to higher standards of transparency, accountability, and fairness.
Term Limits & Independent Maps: Lawmakers need to be accountable to their voters through term limits and independent maps. Michael Madigan and his allies were able to build their power through gerrymandered maps and unrestricted term limits.
Empower the Legislative Inspector General: The role of the Legislative Inspector General is heavily restricted. We need to empower this watchdog role to issue subpoenas without requiring prior approval from the Legislative Ethics Commission and publish all founded reports about ethics violations.
Lobbying Restrictions: Legislators must advocate on behalf of their constituents, not special interests. They should not be able to leverage their public service for personal financial gain. To stop this revolving door, there should be a minimum two-year ban for lawmakers seeking post-legislative lobbying and advocacy jobs.
Conflict-of-Interest Reform: There needs to be stricter conflict-of-interest rules to ensure elected officials are looking out for the public’s interest, and not self-interest.
If there was one bill that you could get through the legislature next year, what would it be?
I would pass a law prohibiting automatic lawmaker pay raises. As Illinois continues to struggle and residents and businesses flee the state, legislators gave themselves yet another pay raise. This is unacceptable and an insult to taxpayers.
If there was one recently passed law you could repeal, what would it be?
In order for our communities to prosper and attract businesses and residents, we need to ensure public safety. I would repeal the SAFE-T Act, particularly provisions that eliminate cash bail. Revoking cash bail puts victims and the public at risk. Other states that have implemented bail reform have since scaled back or rejected the elimination of cash bail in response to a surge in crime. At a time when Illinois is being devastated by a wave of violent crime, we need to reestablish law and order to protect our families and neighborhoods.
Do you support term limits? If yes, why and what would they look like? And if no, why not?
Yes. Legislative term limits are a meaningful step toward eliminating corruption or inaction in Illinois politics. State representatives should be limited to five consecutive terms and state senators to three consecutive terms.
Inflation across the country has greatly impacted the price of gasoline, food and other supplies. What should the legislature do to address these issues?
Inflation raises the price of goods and services, which inevitably raises the amount of sales tax incurred as a percentage of the total cost. As residents and businesses struggle to pay for gas, groceries, utilities and other goods, our local economy is negatively impacted as it attempts to recover from the pandemic. There are ways that the legislature can reduce the financial stress to households by lowering residents’ overall tax burden. Illinois is one of only 13 states to impose a sales tax on groceries and one of seven states to tax gasoline. Families are struggling to make ends meet and need relief.
Taxes are a top concern of Illinois voters. What do you think the underlying issues are and how would you propose addressing them?
Illinoisans are overburdened by taxes which presents a barrier to opportunity. Taxes compounded on top of inflation are squeezing families financially. As a result, record numbers of residents and employers are moving to other states for a lower cost of living, accounting for a significant loss of taxpayers and revenue. Illinois does not need more taxes; it needs policies that support families and attract more job creators. We need to fully repay the unemployment trust fund loan to avoid millions of dollars in interest fees and crippling taxes on businesses. Illinois must focus on repairing its structural deficiencies, including implementing pension reform and reducing redundant layers of government. Most of all, Illinois needs a General Assembly that implements a vision for the state that is efficient, transparent, and fiscally responsible.
What are three things the state legislature could do to promote better fiscal responsibility within state government?
US News ranked Illinois 50th for fiscal stability on a short-term and long-term basis. The legislature needs to align spending with revenue instead of creating unsustainable debt with only temporary fixes. We need:
1) Transparency in Budgeting: Provide meaningful, clear, consistent, and timely budget and financial reports. The Illinois Constitution requires each bill be read on three separate days before it can be passed into law. However, the nearly 3,300-page state budget was introduced in its final form at the last minute and passed in the early morning hours. As a result, lawmakers approved a budget they did not have the time or opportunity to review. Advanced planning and compliance with Constitutional requirements would provide lawmakers an opportunity to remove wasteful spending, act transparently, and budget responsibly.
2) Pension Reform: As pension obligations continue to grow, funding is diverted away from essential services and taxes increase. Illinois needs to set aside sufficient funds to honor promised pension payments. Reform is also necessary to protect both retirees and taxpayers.
3) Government Efficiency: The General Assembly should always work to streamline and consolidate units of government, removing unnecessary and redundant layers of government to provide residents with some property tax relief.
How would you propose addressing the problems with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services?
As a mother of two children, my heart breaks for vulnerable and neglected children. The pandemic exacerbated the existing systemic issues facing DCFS and the children and families it serves. We need to protect the state’s most vulnerable children. Multiple DCFS workers have been killed or injured during home visits in recent years. Children are dying from continued abuse and neglect, despite DCFS involvement. The DCFS Director, Marc Smith, is repeatedly held in contempt of court for violating court orders to find appropriate placements for children in a timely manner. The cases are heartbreaking and egregious. DCFS needs more trained frontline workers and additional special-case foster homes. A statewide effort to recruit more foster parents to provide a safe home for adolescents and children could assist with placement issues. There needs to be increased communication and cooperation with law enforcement for high-risk cases, and a full agency audit is necessary to ensure effective and transparent use of funding.
What can be done at a state level to address crime?
The legislature needs to repeal the SAFE-T Act that will outlaw most cash bail by January 2023 and the 2016 statute that restricts the ability of prosecutors to charge juveniles with felony armed vehicular hijacking. We need to support our law enforcement and ensure they have the resources and training necessary to do their jobs effectively.
In addition to legal reforms, children need access to quality education so they see a way out of poverty and crime. Sixty percent of prison inmates are not proficient readers, and 85% of court-involved juveniles struggle with reading. Children from less-advantaged communities are harmed the most. I support policies that will improve access to high-quality education for all Illinois families.
Did Joe Biden win the 2020 election?
What is your position on the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol?
There is no justification for acts of violence and destruction. Criminal acts are unacceptable and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Illinois has seen significant revenue growth from marijuana sales and enhanced gambling. Are there other industries the state should consider to grow revenue?
Illinois must focus on attracting business and employers in all areas to grow revenue and provide tax relief. We need to grow our tax base by growing our population. Increased taxes, crime, and corruption are currently driving away businesses, jobs, and residents. Illinois has great resources and so much to offer. Our state can prosper with the right policies that reduce the cost to do business here.