Joan Lasonde: Candidate Profile
9th Congressional District (Republican)
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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
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Family: Husband Greg, two daughters (15 and 14) and a foster daughter (7).
Occupation: Former advertising executive, community volunteer, political activist, DCFS-licensed foster parent
Education: B.S. Human Resources, University of Illinois, 1987
I also completed the coursework in Roosevelt University's Early Childhood Education Master's program. However, other obligations precluded me from completing a semester of student-teaching to complete the degree.
Civic involvement: Board Member, Illinois State Crime Commission;
Former Board member, Wilmette League of Women's Voters;
Former board member Evanston School Children Clothing Association (ESCCA);
Catechist - St. Francis Xavier Parish Religious Education;
Former Girl Scout Troop Leader;
Volunteer and Events Director New Trier Republican Organization;
Elected offices held: None
Questions & Answers
How will you work to make Congress more productive and effective? What actions are needed to produce a healthy federal budget? Specifically, what changes do you advocate regarding how revenue is produced or what our spending priorities are? In particular, what effect does current policy have on your district and what changes, if any, are needed?
Raising incomes for the middle class and poor is my primary goal, which should be bipartisan and avoids the partisanship that has plagued the House. I will not vote to use government to force social positions on the public, because those are mostly each individual's business, and those are the most divisive. I will not support government shutdowns on secondary issues.
I want the tax code simplified by reducing its use as a tool of central planning, which is why the code is full of ineffective and costly benefits for narrow interest groups. Generally, I want to help the poor and middle class by raising their after -tax income levels and not by adding more of them to the rolls of assistance programs. The Earned Income Tax Credit is a better approach than assistance programs, and I support expansion of that credit.
The priorities for Federal spending should be education, homeland security and safety net programs that are simple and efficient. A growing skills gap, which is key to the plight of the middle class and poor, must be addressed in our education spending. I believe strongly in free markets that instill vigorous competition and produce lower prices and more efficient use of resources. I prefer the term "pro-competition" over "pro-business." I want tough but clear anti fraud and disclosure regulation that would have prevented Madoff, Enron, sub-prime and other scandals.
What immigration policies do you support? Where, if at all, do you see room for compromise to produce an effective policy on immigration? How will these policies affect your district?
I support comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to normalization for those already here. I support the efforts of the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition.
Compromise to produce an effective immigration policy can be achieved if two conditions are met. First, we need truly effective border enforcement. We've never had it, and that's the primary reason why immigration opponents are understandably angry. Second, the public must come to understand the plain reality that removing all illegal immigrants is simply not practical nor remotely feasible. It is also not in our economic interest to expel them nor morally right to deport many who were admitted with a wink and a nod and have family here with citizenship.
Refugees from Syria and other Middle East war zones represent a special category, and I support the "pause" currently in contention regarding expanded admissions because we need to reformulate our criteria for admission. I believe we should shift that criteria to be more akin to traditional rules for admitting political refugees. That is, many seeking to come here are particularly at risk of being killed at home because they have supported pro-democracy elements, worked with American forces, or are otherwise known to be particularly opposed to extremists.
What should be the top priorities in Congress related to the Affordable Care Act? If you want changes, what specifically do you recommend? If you want the act entirely eliminated, please address these questions: Is that politically feasible? If it proves infeasible, where do you see the potential for compromise? If it is eliminated, what would you replace it with, if anything?
The central problem with ACA is that premiums are skyrocketing to unaffordable levels and insurers are pulling out, so the whole system is in jeopardy. Allowing interstate competition would help address that. Currently, the number of insurers is dwindling fast, which reduces competition and increases premiums.
In the Ninth District, many residents are grappling with hard decisions after Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Illinois dropped some popular PPO policies, effectively locking patients out of NorthShore University Hospitals and affiliates and Northwestern Memorial Hospitals and its affiliates, including Lurie Children's Hospital. I support aggressive measures to increase competition from more insurance providers.
Prior to the adoption of the ACA, HSAs and FSAs were two vehicles that put patients in charge of their health care. New policy should allow for greater tax benefit for using savings accounts to pay for out-of-pocket expenses. We should consider giving individuals the same tax benefit for purchasing health insurance as for employers.
What military or diplomatic roles should the United States play to promote peace and stability in the Mideast? Under what circumstances should we have military forces actively operating?
I support a very aggressive response against ISIS but oppose significant numbers of American troops on the ground in Syria, Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East. Destroying ISIS as a nation state does require troops on the ground in huge numbers, but they must be supplied by neighboring Arab states - Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and others. It is essential that we obtain their commitment to that effort because air strikes and other support by the U.S. and its allies will have little effect, and we are at risk of merely dispersing ISIS fighters, not killing them.
We must be mindful that the U.S, together with our allies, face a three-front war against terrorism emanating from the Middle East. Beyond ISIS as a would-be nation holding, Europe faces an existential threat from mass migration of refugees, and we all face home-grown acts of terrorism sponsored or inspired by ISIS and other terrorist groups. That means a genuine coalition must be maintained - the U.S. cannot dictate policy alone while Europe has so much at stake in its refugee crisis. Finally, and most importantly, Israel remains the only reliable democracy and friend in the region. Our relationship with it has primacy. Jan Schakowsky's decision choice to boycott the appearance in Washington by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was profoundly wrong.
Will you uphold the international climate change treaty? If not, what alternative steps would you advocate? If so, what steps will you take to meet U.S. obligations under the accord?
I would vote to uphold any treaty to which the United States is party. However, both the Kyoto and Paris accords are not treaties and would never get ratified in the Senate. The United States has no obligation under either accord. However, on any environmental matter, I generally support market-based mechanisms such as auctions of emission quotas, as have now become common.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
Growing the economy to create a robust job market for the poor and middle class is my first priority. In addition to those issues not mentioned earlier, I will fight hard for federal funding for mass transportation, which is critical for the Ninth District and the entire Chicago area.
Finally, an overarching approach I will emphasize is to find common ground to move forward over. Both parties have been guilty of obstructionism and partisanship and I will have none of it.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
My father used to say, "Get an education. It's the one thing people can't take away from you".
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
I wish I had been more involved in local, state and federal politics when I was younger.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
Math, because there's always a right answer and a wrong answer. I love reconciling my checkbook and seeing it balance to the penny.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
To thy own self be true