Mary Beth Canty: 2022 candidate for 54th state House

  • Mary Beth Canty

    Mary Beth Canty

Posted10/13/2022 1:00 AM


Party: Democrat


Office sought: State Representative, 54th District

City: Arlington Heights

Age: 41

Occupation: Lawyer

Previous offices held: Village Trustee - Arlington Heights (elected 2019); Director - RTA Board of Directors (appointed 2020)


Q: What needs to be done structurally to make the legislature more effective? What is your position on term limits in general and for legislative leaders specifically?

A: I support calendar reforms to help us make better progress in the early months and not push important policy decisions affecting millions of Illinoisans to the last minute. I would like to see fewer committees, and members of the committees developing greater expertise over time, with the goal of consensus building on policies whenever possible.

There are offices for which term limits are needed, but there are also considerable downsides, particularly at the state and local level. Finding willing individuals for these positions, especially well qualified ones, can be challenging, and imposing term limits deprives voters of competent, experienced elected officials. Instead, I believe in letting voters decide who they want representing them. However, I do support limits on leadership similar to those proposed in the General Assembly.

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Q: Federal assistance has enabled the state to make important advances toward improving its budget. What will you do to ensure these advances continue when the federal aid is gone?

A: Illinois balanced the budget the last four years, earning our first credit upgrades in 20 years. Federal funds offset pandemic-related revenue losses and Illinois invested them in much-needed infrastructure to boost our local economies. Instead of creating new programs that wouldn't be funded in the future, our legislature eased inflation's impact with temporary tax relief and paid down debt for state employee health insurance and pensions. I support these kinds of efforts leveraging one-time revenues to achieve recurring savings. As Trustee, I voted for budgets with no increase in property taxes every year. Responsible and innovative fiscal decisions allowed us to invest in businesses through initiatives like Arlington Alfresco while maintaining one of the best funded police and fire pensions in the state during the pandemic. I will bring this discipline to state budget votes, and fight to keep taxes in check while providing safe streets, strong schools, and thriving local businesses.

Q: To what extent are you happy or unhappy with the evidence-based model for education funding now in place in Illinois? How would you define "adequate" state funding for Illinois schools and what will you do to promote that?

A: All parents regardless of income level share in common a desire to provide our children with the best education to enrich their lives and prepare them for the future. My family chose to move to this district in part due to the high-quality public school system, which had been historically funded by high property taxes. But we shouldn't be forced to choose between underfunding schools or making homeownership prohibitively expensive. I support reform to improve parity and reduce the tax-payer's burden. The shift from "one-size-fits-all" per-pupil funding to the EBF model, though not perfect, is a step in that direction in that it narrows the achievement gap by investing in districts most in need of adequate funding without placing the burden of cost on their taxpayers. I support reaching 90% adequacy in school districts within the next decade through the EBF approach - which even my colleagues across the aisle agree is a good compromise - while remaining vigilant to reassess its impact.


Q: Do you believe elections in Illinois are free and fair? What changes, if any, are needed regarding election security and voter access?

A: Illinois elections are free and fair, not perfect. I applaud the state's cybernavigator program to protect the system from outside interference and support the requirement to provide paper ballots. Efforts to improve and modernize state elections through a professional, official, and non-partisan audit are positive steps towards protecting election integrity. Examining the use of electronic signatures and other forms of petition-gathering, as is already being done in cities like Denver, and implementing better state centralization and speedier updates of our voter files could be important steps in improving our election process overall.

Q: How well has Illinois responded to Supreme Court indications that it considers abortion, gay marriage and other social issues to be state, not federal, responsibilities? What if anything needs to be done in these areas and what would you do to make your vision come to pass?

A: Illinois took action to protect individual liberties long before the Supreme Court removed them constitutionally. I am proud that my support for legislation eliminating barriers to reproductive health care, ensuring access to contraception, and making abortion safe, affordable and legal has earned me the endorsement of Planned Parenthood. I also support reforms providing equal rights to LGBTQ individuals like access to quality healthcare, spousal entitlements, the right to adopt, and reforms aimed at protecting the LGBTQ community from hate crimes like the mass shooting that happened in Orlando. Unfortunately the Supreme Court has upended states' abilities to protect residents from gun violence. As the only candidate running for State Rep in the 54th to receive the Moms Demand Action Gun Sense Candidate Distinction, I will fight for common sense gun safety measures, including closing loopholes in our background check laws and banning the sale of military-style assault weapons.

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