Rachel Ventura: 2022 candidate for Illinois Senate 43rd District

  • Rachel Ventura is a Democrat running for Illinois Senate 43rd District.

    Rachel Ventura is a Democrat running for Illinois Senate 43rd District.

 
Posted5/28/2022 1:00 AM

Bio

Party: Democrat

 

Office sought: Illinois Senate 43rd District

City: Joliet

Age: 41

Occupation: Will County Board Member and Executive Assistant for Joliet Township

Previous offices held: Will County Board District 9 and Vice President of Will County Forest Preserve

Q&A

Q: How well did the Illinois government respond to the COVID-19 crisis? What do you think should be done differently?

IL did a better job than many states, but high population centers like Chicago and even Joliet had higher transmission rates. I chair the Public Health & Safety Committee on the Will County Board and our hospitals came close to reaching capacity several times during the pandemic. I did successfully push for a vaccine equity director to make sure that everyone who wanted a vaccine could get one. We appropriated money for a call center, testing, and marketing services to help get reliable information to residents. With the next variant surging in Europe we need to prepare for another wave of masks, and a renewed push for boosters, especially for elderly people. I think we can manage to keep businesses open with a mask requirement where appropriate, and outdoor seating in restaurants. As we continue to grapple with the economic damage of the pandemic and prepare for new variants, I will listen to the advice of medical professionals and look for sensible, measured responses.

Q: What are the most important components that should be included in legislative ethics reform? What will you do to help them come to pass?

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We need to shut down the pay-to-play system in Illinois, and at all levels of government. The first step is getting elected without the corrosive influence of big money in campaigns. My tagline throughout my political career has been, "no strings attached," and I have been successful getting into office with a grassroots powered campaign that wields the truth against the bought and paid for politicians. My campaign is not taking corporate PAC dollars and in the case of companies like NorthPoint, I won't allow corporations to filter money through unions like the Operators Local 150 did in the 2020 County Executive race. If elected I will push for a Clean Elections Law similar to Arizona's that allows for public financing of campaigns for those who take a clean elections pledge. We need to reduce the amount individuals like Ken Griffin and Political Action Committees can spend buying an elected official.

Q: What should the state do to address the still-growing problems with its key pension programs?

This will be a defining difference between my opponent and I. Having earned $175,000 per year as a public employee, he will have a healthy pension and it is unconscionable that he will become a taxpayer-funded pension double-dipper if elected. In contrast I present the voice of a mathematician who will take an actuarial look at the problem.

While investor returns have helped stabilize Illinois' pension liability recently, the market is unpredictable, and the general assembly needs to put more money towards paying down pension debt. To improve Illinois' financial health I would introduce a "Ken Griffin tax the rich package" that modernizes Illinois' tax structure so the wealthy in Illinois would pay their fair share. I support closing corporate tax loopholes, ending corporate bailouts, and I support a .0033% tax on high-frequency stock trades. The combined increase in new revenue could strengthen Illinois budget by as much as $10 billion per year.

Q: Describe at least two circumstances in which you have shown or would show a willingness to act independently of the direction or demands of party leadership.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In 2020, I was the only Democrat on the Will County Board to vote against a proposed gas tax increase. I had proposed a tax swap to give residents' property tax relief in exchange for the higher gas prices they would have to pay. Effectively I wanted a higher tax rate on trucks who destroy Will County roads, leaving residents with the tax bill to our deteriorating roads.

I have consistently gone against party leaders and building trades leaders on the massive warehouse expansion project known as the NorthPoint development. I believe that this issue alone is what prompted other Democrats to find and support my opponent. Many in Joliet and Elwood are against the project because it will double truck traffic, increase property taxes to pay for road repairs, and only create poverty wage warehousing jobs in the area. It is also environmentally destructive as it gobbles up more Illinois farmland and encroaches on the Midewin Tallgrass Prairie.

Q: What should lawmakers be doing to stem out-migration from Illinois?

Silicone valley carved out their future in the software and technology industry by investing in education institutions and infrastructure. Illinois needs to invest in affordable, high-speed public broadband that provides businesses and residents a robust backbone for high-speed data transfer. Providing the infrastructure that businesses need is one way to attract the ever-developing tech industry. Along the same lines, the state that focuses on the growing electric vehicle market, green building and renewable energy, is going to corner the market in these emerging technologies. Austin, TX has done a good job attracting Tesla and they are building their 5th plant. We need to focus on attracting companies that will provide stability to Illinois communities for the next 20 years.

Finally, as the climate crisis grows worse, hurricanes and frequent flooding events will cause people to migrate to the Midwest from coastal cities. We need to prepare for this coming migration to Illinois.

Q: Do you believe climate change is caused by human activity? What steps should government be taking to address the issue?

Most scientists and rational human beings understand that climate change is being caused and accelerated by greenhouse gas emissions that come from the burning of fossil fuels (coal plants, gasoline or diesel vehicles, and natural gas plants). Scientists are telling us that we have 10 years to act aggressively to reverse the overheating atmosphere and water.

At the state and federal levels we need to invest heavily in publicly owned renewable energy. We need to offer healthier tax incentives for people who make their homes and businesses energy efficient. We need to provide healthier incentives for people to buy electric vehicles, and vastly expand EV charging stations. Many residents in the 43rd District work in the fossil fuel industry and I will make sure that we have financial assistance for those who need to train for new jobs. The next decade will be critical and we need lawmakers who understand the complexities of the crisis and are committed to taking urgent action.

Q: The graduated income tax is designed with the intent to reduce taxes for 97 percent of Illinoisans. Do you believe that will happen? Why or why not? What assurances can you offer voters?

Should the general assembly take another pass at the graduated income tax I would be in favor of re drafting the legislation to give middle-income earners a larger percentage of tax relief. I would also support re-marketing it as the "Ken Griffin Tax" to underscore the need to tax Illinois wealthy elites. To improve voter confidence that they are voting on a tax decrease for the working middle, we actually need to offer tax relief. The previous proposal left many voters earning $100,000-$250,000 paying the same 4.95% level, and it was not enough to motivate them to the polls on an important referendum issue. The proposed graduated rates in the accompanying bill to the referendum question that actually adjusted rates was too complicated to communicate to voters. We need to simplify the proposed rates so voters can see exactly how much more or less they would be paying and communicate that clearly.

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