Michelle L. Smith: 2022 candidate for Illinois House 97th District
Office sought: Illinois House 97th District
Occupation: Self-employed, BSPI Inc.; and Plainfield Township Clerk
Previous offices held: Plainfield School District 202 school board, two terms; Plainfield Township Clerk, currently in second term; Plainfield precinct committeemen; 11th Congressional State Central Committee Deputy
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 am an unwavering advocate for term limits. I firmly believe those in leadership roles should not control our state's future narrative for decades. Power and greed cannot be the guiding values of our legislators.
Ethics reform should be one of our top priorities in Illinois. Even in a post-Madigan era, we continue to have Democrats being investigated and indicted. We must demand that open investigations take place when there is potential wrongdoing. Legislators should be held to a high standard of ethical conduct, and we must enact systematic ethics reform. If elected, I will work toward enacting meaningful ethics reform to give Illinoisans the confidence that politicians are no longer above the law.
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: One-time federal pandemic aid should be removed from the long-term state budget decisions equation. We should not rely on federal assistance to bail us out yet again. Legislators must cut wasteful spending and eliminate fraud and abuse. We can start by eliminating automatic pay raises for politicians. We must work together and find solutions to balance the budget, cut wasteful spending, and give relief to overtaxed Illinoisans.
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: Ensuring a quality education for all students is one of my top priorities and one of the primary functions of our state government. I spent eight years on the board of education in one of the largest school districts in our state, and funding challenges from a dysfunctional state budget process were always an issue of great local concern.
All children deserve a quality education, and we must ensure that funding levels are not dependent only on one's ZIP code. The evidence-based model is a good start, but educating our students must be a top-budget priority yearly. While funding for science, technology, engineering, and math is important, we must also provide funding and skills training for those students who wish to enter the trades after high school. Providing quality education in many ways will make for a better Illinois.
Q: Do you believe elections in Illinois are free and fair? What changes, if any, are needed regarding election security and voter access?
A: I believe that our elections are free and fair. I also recognize the task of keeping Illinois elections free and fair is an ongoing process. We must do a better job of cleaning up our voter rolls by removing those who have moved or are deceased. I also firmly believe in showing a government-issued ID card for voting. Requiring an ID would help Illinoisans have continued confidence in the security of our elections. We must help every eligible Illinois citizen who needs a government identification card get one for voting. I support making it easy to vote and hard to cheat.
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 abortion laws have not changed in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling in the Dobbs case. Illinois has some of the most permissive abortion laws in the country, allowing abortions at all stages of pregnancy and the ability for a minor child to have an abortion without notifying their parents. Parents must know when their child is having a medical procedure. Parents are responsible for our children to adulthood, and their medical well-being is part of that responsibility. I will advocate for restoring the Parental Notification of Abortion Law, with proper safeguards to protect minor children who have been abused.