Election 2012: Amanda Howland
Howland is running for the 26th District State Senate seat against incumbent Dan Duffy.
Name: Amanda Howland
Position sought: State Senator, 26th District
Campaign contact information: Website: www.AmandaHowland.com, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Mailing address: Friends For Howland, P.O. Box 364, Lake Zurich, IL 60047, Phone: 312-218-4992, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmandaForSenate, Twitter: https://twitter.com/amandahowlandIL
Age and birthdate: 58 years old. November 29.
Family: I am the oldest of 4 girls (my only brother died at age 10) and am the first in my family to complete college and then go on to multiple graduate degrees. My husband is a doctor and lawyer. He also has an MBA and a Master’s Degree in Public Health. My entire family is active in public service.
Education: I earned my BA in Special Education from Central Michigan University. I have three advanced degrees, including an MA in Psychology from Michigan State University; an MS in Educational Administration from Northern Illinois University, and a JD from Chicago-Kent College of Law.
Occupation: I’m an attorney focusing on civil rights issues and child advocacy, and a Trustee at the College of Lake County.
Political Party: Democratic
Previous elected or appointed offices:
Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership (one of 10 women in the State selected as a delegate for 2011)
Ela Township Precinct 84 Committee Person – 2011-present
Ela Township Precinct 83 Committee Person – 2004-2011
Appointed IHSA Athletic Official’s Advisory Council 2010 to present
Marketing Chair – Hawthorn Woods Women’s Charity (501(c) (3)) 2005-2009
Appointed to Illinois State Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Council 2004 to present
Appointed Chair of Illinois State Bar Association Intellectual Property Council 2003-2004, Vice Chair 2002-2003
Caravel Condominium Association Vice President 2004-2006
Chicago-Kent College of Law Student Bar Association President 1995-1996, Treasurer 1994-1995, Representative 1993-1994.
Is there any additional experience you believe qualifies you for this position?
I have dedicated my career to working with families in Illinois communities. I began as a special education teacher, working with emotionally disturbed and behavior-disordered students in Lake and McHenry Counties. I became an assistant principal and a principal in elementary education, and then went to Chicago-Kent College of Law. After passing the Bar exam, I spent more than four years in Federal Court as a senior law clerk to Chief Judge Allen Sharp, where I worked extensively with state and federal laws and statutes while researching and writing opinions for the judge. I have my own law firm specializing in child advocacy and civil rights, which serves Lake, Cook, Kane, DuPage and McHenry counties.
I am in my fourth year as an elected Trustee for the College of Lake County. In that capacity, I deal with a multi-million dollar budget, contract issues, personnel issues and long-term planning for the college. I have to work with a range of ideas and personalities and solve pressing problems on a regular basis.
I am active in my community and participate on several not-for-profit boards and in my local chamber of commerce. I am also active in the Illinois High School Association as one of the top ranked athletic officials in the state. This experience sets me apart from my opponent, Dan Duffy. We both have business experience, but I’ve also been able to supplement that experience with a lifetime of work in our public schools, and in our courts, dealing directly with families in need.
What would your priorities be if elected to this office?
My top priority in the legislature will be to get Illinois’ struggling economy onto stable footing so that we can start creating much-needed jobs.
Growing up as the daughter of auto industry workers in Motown, Detroit in the 1960s, I saw first hand what a thriving economy with good paying jobs could look like. In the decades that followed, I saw it all come crashing down. That’s why, in Springfield, I’ll fight to pass legislation that puts Illinoisans back to work, and to make sure Illinois’ economy resolves its financial challenges, like the pension crisis and the unfair tax system. We need to build an economy that’s made to last--and that means creating good jobs for the middle class.
Official name of campaign committee: Friends for Howland
What are the most important issues facing your district and what would you do as a legislator to address them?
One of the most important issues facing our district is the burden of property taxes on homeowners. As I talk to voters each day, I meet people who are being taxed out of homes they have owned for many years. Some of the seniors I talk to are forced to choose between paying property taxes or paying for medication. Others I have met are looking to sell homes they’ve owned most of their lives. They feel forced to move elsewhere and plan to retire in another state where property taxes are not as onerous. Illinois is one of the few states that puts most of public school funding burden on property owners. We need to consider what other states are doing and what other options are available. We also must broaden the tax base so that the majority burden is not on the homeowner. The state must pay its promised share to every school district.
I also believe we need to reevaluate assessment values and multipliers. Every township handles this process differently at present. In addition, the valuation does not keep pace with actual home value when we have a depressed market.
People are currently taxed at levels that are higher than the worth of their homes. That’s not fair, and it’s not sustainable.
Another critical issue we’re facing is the jobs crisis in Illinois. Economic growth is still too slow, and we need to do all that we can to bring down unemployment. A key part of my job as a legislator will be to help streamline government, ensure greater efficiency, and work to create a budget that we actually stick to as a state. That, in turn, will lead to improved economic growth and job creation.
However, I believe we need to also take targeted action specifically designed to create jobs in our state.
I will work to set up safeguards so that when we give tax incentives to businesses, they are held accountable for actually creating jobs. We need to encourage businesses to come to and stay in Illinois and reward those who do. I’ll work to make sure Illinois is providing workers with access to affordable retraining, so that they can move into different jobs and industries as needed.
Had I been in office at the time, I would have supported the Illinois Jobs Now! act, which will allow for the building of new schools, roads, mass transit lines and green industry, and will create 439,000 jobs by 2015. I also would have supported HB 3469, which requires banks to report loans they make to small businesses. Measures like this, which make access to information easier for small businesses, are the types of bills I hope to support and propose in Springfield.
Illinois’ state government has a terrible reputation in terms of corruption. What would you do to change the culture of state government that has seen recent governors from both political parties convicted of felonies?
One of the main reasons I decided to run for the legislature is because I was disgusted by the culture of corruption in Illinois. With our previous two governors currently incarcerated, it’s clear that we need to implement a serious and game-changing reform agenda in Springfield, and I’m ready to work with both parties to force it to happen. We need stronger transparency requirements and campaign finance laws, and we cannot let partisanship prevent those changes from happening. I support many of the recommendations of the Illinois Reform Commission’s 2009 report, including that we must move toward continuous, real-time campaign finance disclosure filings, which should be more than doable in the age of the Internet; and that we should ban campaign contributions from lobbyists altogether.
Education in Illinois is funded primarily through local property taxes. What changes, if any, would make to that funding system?
As a former public school teacher and principal, and as a current trustee of the College of Lake County, I’ve seen the problems facing our school system. I’ve been in grossly overcrowded classrooms and worked with kids reading way below grade level. I’ve also seen some of the great things that are happening in our classrooms, thanks to the hard work of dedicated teachers. Keeping class sizes small and making sure that all of our public schools have the resources they need to make the learning process both fun and effective will ultimately require that we restructure the public school funding system. Our education system here in Illinois relies heavily on property taxes, and that will have to change if we’re going to provide a high quality education to all of our children--not only those who were blessed to be born into affluent communities. Had I been in Senate at the time, I most likely would have supported the Education Investment and Revenue Reform Act of 2011, which would have created a new revenue source for schools, property tax relief for homeowners, and funding for a state infrastructure program. We need to level the playing field among school districts and take the burden off the property owners. We need to bring all districts up, not bring any down.
Illinois recently passed a significant increase in its income tax, yet the state continues to run a deficit. What specifically should be done to reduce the deficit?:
Again, we can’t talk seriously about deficit reduction until we deal with our massive corporate tax loopholes that are draining vital resources from our state.
I also support Governor Quinn’s legislation, HB 3188, from June 2012 to reduce legislator compensation. In a time when so many Illinois families are struggling, it is appropriate and reasonable that legislators find a way to do more with less. What I can’t abide is an approach that reduces the deficit by placing most of the cuts on the backs of our most vulnerable families and senior citizens.
That’s why I believe we need to consider moving toward a Constitutional amendment that would allow for a graduated income tax system. We are one of only seven states in the nation that has not moved to a graduated tax structure.
Our current regressive tax system is unfair to Illinois’ families. Illinois has the third highest tax burden on low income families in the nation. It is reasonable to ask those who have done well in this economy to contribute a little more in order to lift the whole state.
Illinois’ unfunded pension liability is $83 billion. The state’s inability to address the issue recently led Moody’s to downgrade Illinois’ credit rating. What should be done to address the state’s rising pension obligations?:
There’s no easy solution to our pension problem. As a former educator myself, my own pension is in danger due to the unfunded liability. That’s also why I understand so deeply how important pensions are to so many of our seniors, who worked hard their whole lives and are dependent on their pensions for a secure retirement.
There’s been an unfortunate and inaccurate perception spread by many of our legislators, including my opponent, Dan Duffy, that pension recipients are somehow greedy or manipulating the system.
The truth is, the average pension recipient in Illinois gets about $32,000 per year, with many people receiving far less. Further, retired teachers do not receive Social Security, so cuts to their pension payments would have a serious impact on their quality of life. The state must honor its prior commitment to those who have already retired.
With that said, we ultimately must address the liability, lest our economy suffer even more in the long term. But we’re going to have to do it in a way that does not place the majority of the burden on to our public employees. And we must, as legislators, never again divert pension funds to other areas of expense, which is what caused this crisis in the first place.
As an attorney, I am also deeply committed to finding a solution to our pension challenges in a way that is in alignment with the requirements of the Illinois Constitution. Too many of the proposals we see coming from my opponent, and from others in Springfield, treat the Constitution as an inconvenient piece of paper that can be cast aside when it helps their political agenda.
To deal with the crisis, I believe we must close tax loopholes that have allowed big corporations to avoid paying into our state’s revenue stream. That alone could bring in some $900 million a year to help fund this liability.
In Springfield, I will demand that we as the legislature bring representatives from all potentially affected groups to the table to participate in the process of resolving the problem.
Why would you do a better job representing the district than your opponent? If you are running unopposed, please just share why you are qualified for the position.
My opponent, a first term incumbent, Dan Duffy, tries to have it both ways. While he’s tried to appear as a moderate, the truth is that he’s beholden to the far right wing of the Republican Party that seeks to trample on women’s access to health care, undermine the Affordable Care Act, and destroy environmental protections. The Illinois Environmental Council, in their recent legislative scorecard, gave my opponent the worst score on environmental issues of any current Senator. While thousands of families struggled to put food on the table, Duffy wasted taxpayer time and resources by pushing a plan to require candidates for office to prove their citizenship. The bill was rejected by a 2-1 margin. We don’t have time or money for this kind of Tea Party ridiculousness. Families in Illinois are struggling. It’s time to get serious about getting folks back to work, making sure they have access to the high quality health care they deserve, and supporting our public schools. Instead, Duffy has spent his time pushing a right wing agenda that is out of touch with the values of families in our communities. Too often, Dan Duffy votes “present” on controversial votes that come up in Springfield. We need representation in the Senate that won’t be afraid to take a position--even if it might not be the most politically advantageous move for the Senator’s career. Finally, I make it a point to be fully accessible and out in the district every day talking to voters. I will be a full-time senator and will not run any other business.