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November 8, 2016 — Illinois General Election
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United States

U.S. House of RepresentativesCandidate for District 6

Photo of Amanda Howland

Amanda Howland

Democratic
Attorney and Mediator
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Strengthen the middle class by reforming the tax code and creating jobs.
  • Protecting and strengthening Social Security for future generations.
  • A strong national security and defense against terrorism

Experience

Experience

Profession:Attorney and Mediator
Attorney, Howland & Associates (2004–current)
Investigator and member, Judcial Evaluation Committee for the Illinois State Bar Association — Appointed position (2002–current)
Trustee, College of Lake County — Elected position (2009–current)
Marketing Chairman, Caring Women’s Connection (501 (c)(3)) — Appointed position (2006–2009)
Vice President, Caravel Condominium Association — Elected position (2004–2006)
Law Clerk - Federal District Court, Chief Judge Allen Sharp, Northern District of Indiana (1997–2001)

Education

Central Michigan, Michigan State, Northern Illinois, Chicago-Kent College of Law B.S in Ed.(teaching emotionally disturbed/behavior disordered), M.A. Psychology, M.S. in Educational Administration, J.D (current)
Central Michigan University; Michigan State University; Northern Illinois University; Chicago Kent College of Law B.S. in Ed. (teaching emotionally disturbed/behavior disorderd); M.A. Psych; M.S. in Ed. Administration; Juris Doctor (1996)

Community Activities

Member, Chicago Bar Association (1996–current)
Member, Illinois State Bar Association (1996–current)
Member, Illininois HIgh School Association (1985–current)
Graduate, Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership (2011–current)
Member, Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce (2005–current)

Biography

Amanda Howland is an elected community college trustee, former Chairman of the College of Lake County board, an attorney, and a pragmatic progressive candidate for the United States House of Representatives from the Sixth District of Illinois in 2016.

Amanda has lived in Lake Zurich for more than 20 years. She began her career teaching behavior-disordered teens, initially at Allendale School for Boys, a residential facility in Lake Villa. She moved on to North Junior High (now Bernotas Junior High) in Crystal Lake while working on her Master’s degree in administration. She was hired by U-46 and became an administrator in the largest elementary school in the district (1400 students in Bartlett, K-6). Along the way, building on her own competitive experience as a teen, she became a nationally ranked gymnastics judge, who still officiates at tournaments in the district and throughout Northern Illinois.

As a school administrator, Amanda became fascinated by the legal issues in education and decided to attend law school. As a result, she is still paying off student loans and so understands the burdens faced by students and their families who know that education is the key to success. As a current College of Lake County trustee, she has witnessed the struggles that students go through to afford college and believes that all students should be able to have access to college education.

Amanda's law practice is devoted to protecting the rights of people in both civil rights cases and employment law. She has a great deal of experience negotiating fair settlements and is eager to take that experience to Congress to keep fighting for a fair shake for the middle class. It's time to get to work and get the people's business done.

 

Questions & Answers

Questions from Chicago Sun-Times (18)

What is your biggest difference with your opponent(s)?
Answer from Amanda Howland:

I have always been a pragmatic advocate dedicated to improving my community by finding results-oriented solutions to the challenges facing middle class families. I have worked my entire career as an advocate – for special needs children, senior citizens, college students and Lake County taxpayers. I am running to bring that same commitment to a Congress that needs fewer career politicians and partisan ideologues and more people working to get things done.  

My opponent has held elected office for nearly a quarter of a century. In that time, he has built a record of extreme ideology, particularly on social issues, that is out of step with the fiscally conservative, socially moderate residents of the district. He has also been less visible and accessible the longer he has been in office. I have worked hard to reach out to people, and in office my top priority will be listening to my constituents so I can advocate for what matters most to them. 

Congress has declined to formally authorize America’s undeclared war against ISIS. Should Congress take a vote to authorize the use of military force against ISIS?
Answer from Amanda Howland:

ISIS is undoubtedly a serious threat, so I do not oppose U.S. military action to defeat them. At the same time, the most important action Congress can take is supporting a long-term solution that will lead to greater stability in the region rather than repeated bursts of American military action. I support having Congress vote on action against ISIS, but I oppose ending our current action to allow that to take place. This is a debate Congress should have and that the American people deserve.

More generally, what should Congress do to reduce the threat of ISIS abroad and at home? 
Answer from Amanda Howland:

The United States should lead diplomatic efforts to form a military coalition, comprised of soldiers from the region, to apply military pressure where needed to expel ISIS from its territory. The U.S. cannot continue to engage in military actions to police every part of the world, which burdens our nation and enflames anti-American sentiment (which in turn makes the effort even more difficult). At the same time, we should encourage our allies to work with us to economically isolate bad actors.  The more we cut off their sources of funding, the less capable they will be of military and guerilla action. We should also continue to examine our visa systems for weaknesses terrorists could exploit and promote dialogue and cooperation between law enforcement and the Muslim community to identify potential terrorists. We must remain vigilant, while avoiding actions that promote isolation or resentment, which are anti-American and counterproductive.

Donald Trump has called for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration. Do you support such action? What restrictions, if any, do you support on the admission of Muslims into the United States? 
Answer from Amanda Howland:

No, a blanket ban on any ethnic or religious group is discriminatory and goes against the tenets of our Constitution.

There are two fundamental problems with the notion of banning “Muslim admissions to the United States” – practicality and principle. First, it is impossible to strictly enforce such a ban. There is no reliable method – much less some objective standard – for identifying an individual’s faith. Second, the United States was founded on the belief that government should not favor or persecute a particular religion. A religious ban against all Muslims from entering our country would undermine that legacy while fueling the anti-American propaganda that terrorist organizations exploit to recruit new members.

The United States’ nuclear deal with Iran turned one year old on July 14, 2016. Should the deal be maintained as it is, revised or scrapped completely? What is right or wrong with the Iran deal? And should the next president feel bound by it?
Answer from Amanda Howland:

It is essential that Iran is prevented from obtaining nuclear weapons.  All options must be on the table in addressing the Iranian nuclear threat.  

The task of bringing the uniting the major world powers (particularly Russia and China) to impose sanctions and force Iran to negotiate was an enormous challenge, and I believe the final agreement was the best result we could achieve under those circumstances. 

It is a good thing that there are rules in place governing Iran’s use of nuclear fuel and an ability on the part of the US and the world to monitor what the Iranians are doing.  The deal also includes a mechanism that will re-impose sanctions quickly if any of the countries involved suspects that Iran is cheating.  That fact that we have an agreement gives us much more control than we had in the past over the Iranians’ ability to develop a nuclear weapon.  Rather than “trusting the Iranians,” this agreement imposes real restrictions and invasive inspections. If the Iranians “cheat” they will be exposed and sanctions reinstated. The “sunsetting” of the agreement after five years is a concern, but even then Iran’s behavior will be just as closely scrutinized and imposition of new sanctions remains an option. 

While the P5+1 deal negotiated in Vienna is not perfect, it is better than doing nothing.  Currently, Iran has abided by the deal. Forces are in place to monitor continued adherence. 

Should the United States build a physical wall along our nation’s entire border with Mexico? Should a “path to citizenship” be created for the millions of people already living here without proper documentation? Would you support legislation to prevent the deportations of so-called “Dreamers” — youth who came to the U.S. illegally as small children with their parents?
Answer from Amanda Howland:

No. There are very few people of any partisan affiliation or political ideology who truly believe that building a massive wall that spans the entire U.S.-Mexico border is practical, possible, affordable or even worthy of serious consideration. Components in the 2013 Gang of Eight immigration bill directed a massive surge of resources toward border security - more agents, additional physical barriers in high-traffic areas, new technology to expand surveillance. These are investments I support. 

I support the premise of the DREAM Act which permits undocumented immigrants, who were brought here as young children, to attend college. These young people did not choose to come to the U.S. illegally and are in every respect but one Americans. For many, the U.S. is the only country they know, and it would be inhumane and impractical to deport all of them, most to countries that are entirely foreign to them.  As a College of Lake County trustee I have met some of our DACA students. They are working hard to lead productive lives and contribute to the economy. 

I also believe there can be a compromise on a path to citizenship for many. We cannot deport 11 million undocumented immigrants who already live here, many of whom have jobs and aspire only to support their families. I think there should be a reform of ICE, in which the priorities include a more compassionate process and stiff penalties for employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers in order to exploit them. 

Federal judges in July ruled against voter identification laws in Wisconsin and Texas, concluding that they disproportionately impact minority voters and violate the U.S. Voting Rights Act. Should voters be required to show a photo ID when voting? And should the federal government have a say in this, or is it strictly a matter for the individual states to decide? 
Answer from Amanda Howland:

I support making changes necessary to fully restore all the provisions of the Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court decision that struck certain provisions was short-sighted. The flood of legislation to restrict ballot access (particularly in the southern states it applied to specifically) is evidence of that. So, given our nation’s history, it is reasonable for the federal government to monitor how federal elections are conducted.

Americans must have confidence in our democratic process and in the fairness of our elections. At the same time, laws like those in Wisconsin and Texas targeted a type of fraud that almost never occurs while ignoring voting methods that have historically been the preferred means. While a photo ID requirement sounds reasonable, I am concerned such a rule would disenfranchise elderly or poor voters who cannot afford and have never otherwise needed such identification. We should find a compromise that ensures confidence in our elections while protecting every citizen’s right to vote. 

Should all or certain federal public lands, including national parks, wildlife refuges and forests, be given to states to control? Do you support the opening of public lands and the outer continental shelf to exploration for oil and other fossil fuels, even if those resources are not immediately developed? 
Answer from Amanda Howland:

The United States has a long and proud history of preserving public lands for various reasons – for public parks, protecting wildlife, ecological stability – and I have not heard a compelling argument in favor of changing that. 

The federal government has continued to allow oil and gas exploration on public lands and on the outer continental shelf. I do not see the need for Congress to take further action to expand it. Broadly speaking this practice needs to be reevaluated in the context of a long-term energy policy, since constantly expanding fossil fuel exploration is not a sustainable practice.

 

What changes, if any, to the U.S. tax code do you support and why?
Answer from Amanda Howland:

Our tax code should encourage entrepreneurship and private sector investment while also minimizing the impact on hard-working Americans. We must prioritize strengthening the middle class, while reducing the types of loopholes, tax havens and accounting gimmicks that allow wealthy special interests to avoid taxes.    

While addressing the tax code is a long-overdue task, my opponent, Peter Roskam has taken an extreme and impractical approach. He told voters in West Chicago recently that he plans to introduce a bill that would outlaw the government’s authority to collect tax revenue as of a specific date. Rather than tackle the tax code itself, his approach is to create a panic that would force Congress to rewrite tax laws in a hurry before tax money stopped coming in entirely.  Is that any way to run a government?

Roskam’s only notable attempt to address the tax code itself is his legislation to shield political SuperPACs  (which are established as non-profit charities under the tax code) from having to disclose their donors. This would encourage even more special interest spending on political attack ads by allowing large corporations, wealthy individuals and possibly even foreign interests to anonymously fund campaigns and attempt to control our elections. Electing their own sympathetic legislators is the easiest way for special interests to protect their narrow tax breaks and shape a tax code that favors them over middle class families.

What are the most important actions Congress can take to ensure the solvency of Social Security?
Answer from Amanda Howland:

I support strengthening Social Security and will support measures that will preserve it for future generations without harming current retirees or slashing benefits for poor or middle income seniors.  Congress needs to develop a balanced approach that will not undermine the program. Establishing private accounts (a concept my opponent has supported) would threaten the long-term stability of Social Security by removing money from the system at the very time we need to be shoring up the trust fund. 

It’s time for Congress to engage in a thoughtful discussion and develop a solution that represents a truly bipartisan compromise. I would bring my experience as a professional mediator to this task and approach the discussion with an open mind, search for common ground and help develop solutions that both sides agree will preserve Social Security while protecting seniors and taxpayers.

The Republican Party platform defines marriage as between a man and a woman. What is your view? The Obama Administration has issued guidelines to schools, saying they must allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. What is your view? And do you believe parents of LGBT children should be allowed to force their children into conversion therapy?
Answer from Amanda Howland:

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on this issue, and marriage equality is now the law in the United States. This is a view I have long supported, and it concerns me that so many partisan ideologues just refuse to let it go. Peter Roskam has been such a politician for years, supporting legislation in Congress to maintain the “Defense of Marriage Act” that codified discrimination in federal law and regularly advocating an amendment to the Constitution permanently outlawing marriage equality.  The country has moved forward, but Roskam’s understanding of this issue has not changed. It’s time to end the divisive politics and focus on the issues middle class families are demanding Congress address.

There has been a great deal of controversy over these guidelines. They appear lengthy and complicated, but I think the basic question they attempt to answer is whether laws prohibiting sex discrimination in public schools apply to transgendered students. I believe they do. 

While different schools are experiencing particular challenges in this area, and it’s important to avoid narrow top-down solutions to such complex problems, it is important to create an environment that is inclusive and safe for all students. Our understanding of this issue is changing rapidly, and one-size-fits-all solutions from the federal government are not always helpful. But it’s important that schools respect transgendered students and treat them with the equality, dignity and respect they deserve.

“Conversion therapy” has proven to be horribly destructive psychologically, often leading to depression or suicide among those subjected to it – on top which it is also a fraudulent practice that has never been proven to work as its proponents claim. I am opposed to forcing children into conversion therapy, and I am deeply bothered that my opponent is so strongly supported by the groups that most vocally defend this practice. 

In recent years Peter Roskam has earned perfect scores from such groups as Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council because of his unwavering support for their agenda. Even on issues broadly supported by the public, Roskam takes an extreme position – voting against hate crimes laws that protect the LGBT community and against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act because it outlawed LGBT discrimination by groups that provide services to victims. Most Americans, especially suburban families, simply do not support such extreme positions.

What is the single most important action Congress can take to reduce U.S. gun violence?
Answer from Amanda Howland:

Each year, more than 30,000 Americans have their lives cut short by guns used in suicides, domestic violence, gang shootouts and accidents.  We can find ways to reduce gun violence consistent with the Second Amendment. The most important action Congress can take is addressing the obvious deficiencies in the current system designed to keep guns from those who should not have them. This means closing the obvious loopholes and better enforcing the laws already in place so that criminals, the dangerously mentally ill, and potential terrorists do not have access to guns.

The “Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act” would give the Department of Justice authority to keep suspected terrorists on the federal “no fly” list from buying firearms. The bill was voted down in Congress late last year but pushed again in June after the Orlando massacre of 49 people. Do you support or oppose this bill, and why?
Answer from Amanda Howland:

The Government Accountability Office said in a report more than five years ago that from 2004 to 2010, more than 90 percent of the 1,228 individuals on terrorist watch lists who sought to buy guns were allowed to do so.  Legislation like the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act would close this loophole.

While opponents, including Rep. Roskam, claim government watch lists are often incorrect and that this Act would limit the rights of people who are on the watch list by mistake, the way to resolve this problem is to address the deficiencies of an unreliable watch list rather than simply maintaining a status quo that permits potential terrorists to purchase deadly firearms.   Terror organization have actually called attention to this loophole while attempting to radicalize and recruit others to their cause.

Should Obamacare be repealed, left intact, or changed — and if so, how? 
Answer from Amanda Howland:

Eliminating the ACA is not the answer.  It has many excellent provisions and has provided health care for millions who were previously uninsured.  We can't take away this vital safety net now that we have it.  Too many families will suffer. Inability to pay medical bills accounted for 60% of bankruptcies before the ACA was enacted. 

Despite positive changes for many Americans, the ACA has not sufficiently addressed some ongoing challenges, which means Congress needs to modify the law.  High costs, rising premiums and high deductibles for those who do not qualify for subsidies have occurred.  We also need to find ways to get unrestrained prescription drug costs under control. And, we must address the fact that some providers have chosen to leave the exchange market after concluding they would not be sufficiently profitable. Competition is an important feature of the exchange element of the larger ACA, and ensuring healthy competition likely requires changes to the legislation as well as to the insurance companies' own approach. Not every insurance company entered the market with a profit-losing model. 

Every major piece of legislation, particularly those that regulate large industries or provide health care benefits, have required periodic changes to address issues that emerge during implementation. Congress still makes modifications to programs like Medicare to respond to changes in population and the evolution of the health care industry -- not because Medicare is a failed program, but because doing so represents common-sense, responsible legislating. 

A plan to replace Obamacare, presented by House Speaker Paul Ryan in June, would gradually increase the eligibility age for Medicare, which is now 65. Starting in 2020, the Medicare age would rise along with the eligibility age for full Social Security benefits, eventually reaching 67. Do you support this change in the eligibility age for Medicare? 
Answer from Amanda Howland:

The Ryan proposal overall has been called “flimsy” by independent analysts who note its lack of specificity and recycling of ideas that have been repeatedly rejected because of impracticality or a history of failure. Given that context, it is difficult to assess the specific provision that would raise the Medicare age. 

While it may appear sensible to minimize the number of Medicare recipients, it is also true that health care spending for younger beneficiaries is not the primary driver of higher costs. I am also concerned that many older Americans who are lower or middle income and struggling with private coverage will be asked to do so for two additional years, unless some consideration is made for them to buy into the program earlier. Addressing Medicare’s challenges is complex and I am open to various ideas, but this idea in isolation seems problematic.

The GOP platform opposes the use of public funds for Planned Parenthood and other groups that “perform or advocate” abortion. It also opposes funding health care that includes abortion coverage. In contrast, the Democratic Party’s platform called for continued funding of Planned Parenthood and repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which bars the direct use of federal funds to pay for abortion. Where do you stand?  
Answer from Amanda Howland:

Planned Parenthood provides critical services to nearly three million people.  More than 90% of what Planned Parenthood provides is cancer screenings, birth control, and STD testing and treatment.  They also provide preventive health care services to women. Not only do I support public funds for Planned Parenthood, I also oppose efforts to restrict access to contraception, including in employer-provided plans.

This, too, is a major distinction between my opponent and me. Peter Roskam has long advocated efforts to eliminate a woman’s right to choose and restrict access to contraception. In addition to sponsoring legislation to unconstitutionally outlaw abortion early in pregnancy, he has supported every anti-choice bill endorsed by even the most extreme organizations. This is consistent with his career-long efforts to outlaw a woman’s right to choose even in cases of rape or incest. Roskam has also championed “religious liberty” bills that target women’s access to birth control from every direction – allowing employers, insurance companies, pharmacists and other providers to deny what is a basic part of women’s health care. I oppose such efforts.

President Obama has proposed making two years of community college free nationally. Do you support or oppose this proposal? If you support it, how would you have the nation pay for it? 
Answer from Amanda Howland:

As a community college Trustee, I am a deep believer and vocal advocate for community colleges and the role they play in helping people build their careers and achieve success. The idea of making two years of community college free is noble and worth exploring, but we need to consider such a proposal in the context of larger reforms that will stabilize higher education funding, control college costs and ensure every person has the chance to further their education in a way that is best for them.

College costs have risen at twice the rate of inflation for about 30 years. What is driving this increase and what should be done about it?
Answer from Amanda Howland:

Many factors contribute to rising college costs, including an increase in the percentage of high school graduates choosing to enroll, cuts to higher education by state governments, the structure of the student loan industry, and others. This challenge requires a broad examination, but there is one thing we can do now to help minimize the impact on working families.

As a second term elected Trustee at the College of Lake County one of the top priorities in my district is solving the problem of excessive student debt.  We need to reduce the interest rates on these loans, allow for consolidation and look for ways to make repayment easier.   Students who graduate with massive debt cannot support the economy by making discretionary purchases like houses and cars.  Instead, they must pay high interest rates on student loans, often for many years to come.  My opponent is against these kinds of reforms and opposes lower rates for borrowers.

Going forward, reforming the way students and parents pay for college could revolutionize the ability of U.S. workers to compete in the global economy.   We also should make support for technical education at all levels a priority. Another possibility to explore is to allow loan forgiveness for those who work in certain fields after graduation.

Who gave money to this candidate?

Contributions

Total money raised: $100,443

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

1
Planned Parenthood
$7,500
2
Employees of Cooney & Conway
$2,700
2
Employees of Northwest River Supplies
$2,700
3
Employees of Intel
$2,000
3
Prairie Political Action Committee
$2,000
3
Employees of Terrence K Hegarty Ltd
$2,000

More information about contributions

By State:

Illinois 64.89%
New York 14.62%
Idaho 3.33%
California 3.09%
Other 14.07%
64.89%14.62%14.07%

By Size:

Large contributions (81.92%)
Small contributions (18.08%)
81.92%18.08%

By Type:

From organizations (16.04%)
From individuals (83.96%)
16.04%83.96%
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

We currently have the most partisan and least productive Congress in history and our current Congressman is part of this problem.  We need elected officials who will put the needs of our district before Washington special interests or partisan purity.

I know it’s possible to challenge the status quo and do right by taxpayers by pursuing compromise and putting their interests first. For example, during my first term as Trustee of the College of Lake County I was elected Board Chair and tackled the controversial issue of Trustee spending.  I was able to get a majority of the board to vote to tighten our policies and require more accountability.

I have spent my career not as a politician, but as an advocate – first as an educator for special needs students, then as a school administrator; and now as an attorney and elected Trustee. I’ve stood up for children, seniors, taxpayers and others who face personal challenges, bureaucratic obstacles or a system that should serve them better. As a member of Congress, I will work just as hard for those I represent.

Videos (1)

— October 10, 2016 Chicago Sun-Times

Amanda Howland tells why she should be the congresswoman from the 6th district.

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