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November 8, 2016 — Illinois General Election
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Illinois State House of RepresentativesCandidate for District 11

Photo of Gary Mandell

Gary Mandell

Certfied Financial Planner, Registered Investment Advisor and Certified Public Accountant
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Passing a truly balanced state budget as required by our State Constitution without using the tricks of moving money between accounts and including borrowing as revenue. Include items that have actually passed legislation, not "hoped for" items.
  • Fully funding the educational needs of our students. To do so, we must first take a responsible look at current costs and see if there are areas for cutting wasteful spending and responsible reforms that can be implemented.
  • Make the operations of our state government transparent in all aspects, particularly in budgetary issues. Full explanations of proposed budgets should be available so that our citizens are well aware of how their tax dollars are bring spent.



Profession:Certfied Financial Planner, Registered Investment Advisor and Certified Public Accountant
Portfolio Manager and Financial Planner, The Mandell Group (1984–current)


American College, Bryn Mawr, PA Chartered Life Underwriter and Chartered Financial Consultant, various financial planning, business planning, insurance and estate planning courses (1992)
College for Financial Planning, Denver, CO Certified Financial Planner, general financial planning, income taxes, investment, retirement planning, insurance, estate planning (1984)
Graduate School fo Business (now known as the Booth School of Business), University of Chicago Masters of Business Administration, Specialization in Finance (1982)
Wharton School fo Commerce and Finance, University of Pennsylvania Bachelor of Science in Economics, Majored in Accounting (1979)

Community Activities

President, reasurer and Board Member of large condominium associations, Lake Park Plaza Condominium Association and Piano Facotry Townhome Association (1991–2007)

Questions & Answers

Questions from Chicago Sun-Times (15)

Do you support term limits for legislators? Do you support term limits for legislative leaders? Please explain.
Answer from Gary Mandell:

 In an ideal world, there would be no need for term limits.  A politician would serve not to create and maintain his own career, but rather to serve his fellow citizens.  Unfortunately, politics is not an ideal world.  Therefore, when elected, I would introduce and/or support legislation to enact a reasonable form of term limits for both the legislators and legislative leaders.  The current lack of these limits has led to the problems we are facing today.  Most career politicians are more interested in getting elected than solving our problems.  This tends to stifle independent thinking within our legislature, and worse yet, may be discouraging qualified and innovative potential candidates from even attempting to run for office.  The best term limits are self-imposed. You come to serve for a purpose or a policy, and when that has been accomplished, you move on.


Who do you think bears responsibility for the budget stalemate? Do you have your own ideas on how to resolve it?
Answer from Gary Mandell:

I am not interested in playing that partisan blame game that you see in Springfield.  It looks like there is enough blame to go around. Our families are being taxed out of their homes, our state is broke, and we have the highest unemployment rate in the nation. Yet, every time I turn on the TV, another politician is touting their accomplishments. When I open my mailbox, I find another glossy pamphlet arguing that our legislators are doing great things for our community. This charade works for the elite. But it doesn’t work for our families. We pay the highest property taxes in the nation despite all these politicians who claim they are for lower taxes. We don’t have a balanced budget despite all these politicians who claim they are fiscally conservative. I am going to Springfield to do the right thing, not just say the right thing.


We can move Springfield forward in two ways: First, by bringing balance back to the legislature.  I’m running for office because after decades of one party rule, the families in our community are suffering and aren’t being served by the state government they finance.




Second, Springfield needs new, independent leadership that is focused on serving our interests, not protecting their own power. The current leaders were put in place to work for us but what we find is that they work for themselves. I’m trying to take politics out of this process.  I’m going to Springfield to work with reform-minded Democrats and Republicans to focus on our community and protect our families.


A June 3 New York Times op-ed was headlined “Higher Education in Illinois is Dying” because of significant funding cuts. Do you agree or not with Gov. Bruce Rauner that additional large cuts could be necessary?
Answer from Gary Mandell:

Governor Rauner arrived in Springfield to find serious challenges waiting. The test will be whether legislative leadership begins to respond to this challenge in a serious way, or continues to sidestep obvious problems that need to be dealt with immediately.  No one ever said that the work of reform would be easy.


In my district, a large number of people I talk to confess their plan for moving out of Chicago or Illinois.  One look at the number of For Sale signs in the district will confirm this.  

These are people who have built businesses, raised families, paid taxes, invested time and talent in charitable organizations, given back in their communities – and we’re losing them. After 40 years of bad public policy, political corruption and bureaucratic mismanagement, the state has made it too hard for them to stay. To me, this is unacceptable.

No one ever said that 40 years of bad decisions could be easily undone in a few months or even a few years. But, it must be done.


Many are understandably frightened, and believe the governor should just agree to a budget and leave his Turnaround Agenda items for another day.


But that approach doesn’t work. We just had a four-year case study on it. Illinois Democrats raised income taxes by 67 percent in 2011, and the tax increase was in place for four years. At the end of those four years, Illinois still has many of the same problems it had before the tax increase was passed. At the end of those four years, Illinois still had a huge pile of unpaid bills. We still have the worst-funded pension system in America. Our schools continue to struggle. Our largest city and economic engine, Chicago, and our largest school system, Chicago Public Schools, are in dire financial straits. During the four years of the tax increase, Illinois received several credit-rating downgrades, dropping us to the lowest-rated state in the nation. Again, while the tax increase was in effect, our financial position deteriorated, and the independent rating agencies punished us for it.


There are two ways to balance a budget, and both must happen here.  We must increase revenues by expanding our tax base, while making cuts in unproductive spending.   If we can move forward with the reforms being discussed, Illinois will become a strong and vibrant state once again, with businesses operating and hiring new employees.  The population that has left in a mass exodus over the past decade will return.  Our tax base will grow, and so will revenues.  Wasteful spending on bloated bureaucracy and do nothing projects will stop.  Then and only then, will we be able to fully fund the necessary programs that our critical to our state to maintain the health, welfare and education of our citizens.


We cannot tax our way out of our problems, and we can’t solve anything without a balanced budget!  I am ready and willing to do that work. And that’s why I am going to Springfield.

How should the state’s school funding formula be changed to give all children a better chance at a quality education?
Answer from Gary Mandell:

We in District 11 are blessed to be in a neighborhood where fundraising and parent contributions are used to help supplement school budgets.  But that is not the case throughout most of CPS.  The funding received from the State and Federal budgets is about all many of these schools are going to get.


Using a Student Based Budgeting system such as is in place now is a good start.  The State pays an amount per child, and the Federal government kicks in additional dollars based on poverty levels at the school.  That is all well and good.


We can focus on problems with the funding formula, and there are many, but the reality is that fiscal mismanagement and bad policy need to be corrected first.  Then we will see what the real funding needs are.


The issues we face here is Chicago have several sources.  Firstly, CPS has opted to manage and maintain its own pension.  Yet Chicago taxpayers pay into a state system that pays the pension costs for the rest of the state.  Chicagoans need to get a credit for taxes paid that go to other school district pensions.


Secondly, CPS and the city have so poorly managed the finances of the schools and the pension that they do not have enough money to fund our schools adequately.  The State Legislature gave Chicago a ten year pension holiday.  Pension contributions were foregone completely.  And for the following five years, less than half of the required contributions were made.  Now, the city needs to make up for all of this underfunding, and there is no way they can afford to do so.  This is what caused the deficit for the 2016-17 school year, and these deficits will continue until changes are made.


Thirdly, the state is obligated to make the pension contributions for non-CPS districts even though they have no say in the wage contracts that each school district offers.  Any school funding reform should have some limits on pension expenses within a district above which the state will not be responsible.


Without a budget, Illinois is spending much more than it takes in, leading to an ever-growing stack of bills, underfunded services and a growing deficit. What new revenue sources do you support to help fix this problem?
Answer from Gary Mandell:

The budget conversation always seems to revolve around new sources of revenue.  And taxes, in whatever form, are always going to be a significant source of revenue for our State.  However, I do NOT believe that our first option should be to increase the tax burden on our already over-taxed population.  Instead, I believe in making Illinois a more attractive place to operate a business, and, as a result, generate more tax revenues and improve the employment picture.


Illinois is about as unattractive as a state can be to run a business, especially in the manufacturing sector.  To address this, I would propose reforms to business regulations and taxation that have been fostered by politicians over the past several decades.  And this is the key to Illinois pulling itself out of the current situation we find ourselves in.


Whether you are individual investor or a business, uncertainty is your biggest concern.  And an uncertain business environment is plaguing our state.  There are several reasons for this.  To begin with, our state has $111 billion of unfunded public sector pension liabilities.  At the same time, our corporate income and property tax rates remain among the highest in the nation.  These challenges are having a real and immediate impact on our ability to move the state forward.  Recently, for example, Chicago was a finalist in General Electric’s search for a new corporate headquarters location, a move that would have brought 800 jobs to the city.  GE stated that the state’s pension crisis and the condition of the Chicago Public School system eliminated Chicago from the running.


A direct response to the loss of employment by so many good, hard working people has been an increased dependency on already overburdened government programs such as food stamps, unemployment benefits and other welfare programs. This climate of dependency is not sustainable in an already cash strapped system.


So, we have two choices.  We can continue to raise taxes, which will force more of our citizens to move out and may actually result in a reduction of our revenues.  Or, we can make Illinois a place where business want to operate, where they will hire more workers, with both the business and the workers pay taxes into the system.  Not only can tax rates stay the same for our existing population, total revenues will increase, and we can more adequately fund all of the programs, including education, that we so desperately need.


And last, but not least, we must comb the expense side of our State’s economy for cost savings to be gained by eliminating do nothing projects and reducing the high level of bureaucracy in the institutions, agencies and government offices we support.


A constitutional amendment is on the ballot that would require money raised for transportation not be spent elsewhere. Do you support this concept? Also, transportation planners say more money is needed for roads and bridges, Metra, CTA rail services and the like. Do you agree and, if so, where would you get the funding?
Answer from Gary Mandell:

In general, until the Illinois legislature can stop playing the game of moving money between accounts and calling that balancing the budget, I am in favor of prohibit the use of funds that were raised explicitly for one purpose to then be used for something else.  I know it is tempting, and has been done not only in Illinois, but Federally.  One only need look at the history of the Social Security Trust Fund to see what happens when these prohibitions are not in place.


A lot of funding of our infrastructure has come from the Federal government, usually on a matching basis with dollars that the State contributes.  To the extent that it is determined that taking advantage of this type of program is a good use of our funds, I would support that.  To the extent that we pay for all of the expenses ourselves, this is another cost that demands attention.  There are many important programs in Illinois that are waiting for funding, and by implementing the reforms suggested elsewhere in this questionnaire, I believe that we can go a long way towards meeting all of these needs.



In the last session, the governor and Legislature turned their attention away from pension reform. What initiatives do you support to reduce the costs of pensions?
Answer from Gary Mandell:

We can no longer afford politicians who recognize the financial problems of the state yet continue to preach that more tax and spend policies will solve the problems. There is no combination of tax increases that would solve Illinois’ state and local fiscal crises without also including reforms to our retirement system. At a minimum, we must change the form of future retirement benefits earned to a Defined Contribution Plan, where employees have the option of making significant contributions to their own retirements and for managing their own retirement funds. We must also replace mandatory fixed cost of living increases in pension benefits with increases tied to the Consumer Price Index. This would result in smaller pension contributions while still providing a healthy retirement income for workers.


We should also study the costs and benefits of offering to buy out the pensions of longer term employees, as many corporations in America have done.  Acceptance would be purely on a voluntary basis by the effected employees.  A lump sum payment now might be less burdensome and costly in the long run as pension costs based on service and salary tend to increase exponentially as a worker approaches retirement age.


Do you support measures to reduce Illinois’ prison population and divert more money into community-based services?
Answer from Gary Mandell:

In 2015, Gov. Rauner committed to reducing Illinois’ prison population by 25 percent by 2025.  Illinois had the most overcrowded prisons in the nation as of Dec. 31, 2014, and the state’s annual prison costs reached $1.4 billion in fiscal year 2015. Many of Illinois’ prison admissions have come from lower-level offenders – in fact, 55 percent of the increase in prison admissions between 1989 and 2014 was due to more individuals convicted of Class 4 felonies, the lowest level of felony, and mostly for nonviolent crimes.  In fact, Governor Rauner signed five bills in August 2016 aimed at reforming Illinois’ criminal justice system to focus on rehabilitation to reduce recidivism and help low level offenders find a brighter future. The package of bills specifically helps young people who have fallen on hard times find the help they need to get on a better track.


Reducing the number of nonviolent offenders in Illinois prisons might make perfect sense from a policy perspective. And according to recent polling on criminal-justice reform, a large majority of Illinois voters support this objective.


Over 80 percent of respondents in all parties think politicians can be tough on crime and support criminal-justice reforms “such as community supervision, mandatory drug testing and treatment programs – instead of prison – that reduce the likelihood the offender would commit a new crime.”


Illinois voters are saying they want something different in criminal-justice policy. I believe policymakers have a mandate to deliver.


There are calls to reform the state’s civil asset forfeiture system, which allows police and prosecutors to seize and take – permanently – property from someone who has not been convicted of a crime? What is your view?
Answer from Gary Mandell:

I believe that law-abiding citizens have the right not to be aggressed against by their government.


Individuals have the right to exercise dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the right of others to live in the manner they choose.


Governments throughout history have regularly operated on the opposite principle: that the State has the right seize private property, to dispose of the lives of individuals and the fruits of their labor.


I reject the unchecked power of any government to do these things, and hold that governments must not violate the rights of individuals.  I oppose all government interference with private property, such as confiscation.


Do you support allowing transgender persons born in Illinois to change the gender marker on their birth certificate without undergoing surgery first?
Answer from Gary Mandell:

 It is undeniable that our nation is in a time of transition. Courts have redefined marriage, and beliefs about human sexuality are changing.

I support the currently proposed legislation which would eliminate the state's current requirement that transgender people in Illinois provide proof of transition-related surgery in order to obtain a new birth certificate matching their lived gender.  Instead, transgender and intersex people in Illinois could update their birth certificates if they receive a declaration by a physician stating they have "undergone treatment that is clinically appropriate for that individual for the purpose of gender transition, based on contemporary medical standards, or that the individual has an intersex condition.  Surgery is something that is not available, necessary, or even medically advisable for every person who is transitioning.

I understand that transgender persons have legitimate privacy and security concerns, as do non-transgender persons.  Not having accurate identity documents can put transgender people at risk of embarrassment, discrimination and harassment.  I am going to Springfield to serve all members of my community, and will treat LGBTQ issues – and all issues – with respect, compassion and independent thought.

What is your view on so-called “death with dignity” — physician-assisted suicide — which has become a contentious issue in other states? California’s End of Life Option Act took effect on June 9.
Answer from Gary Mandell:

 Should there come a time in a person’s life where an illness has been certified by the attending physician to be one that is terminal, and that the individual’s quality of life will suffer from prolonging that life, that individual, assuming mental competency at the time, should be allowed to elect physician-assisted suicide as an option.  I would hope that hospital and nursing home admission forms as well as legal documents such as living wills and/or Powers of Attorney for Health Care could be used to make these wishes known in advance as well, although they should not be made a requirement to elect this option.


What measures do you support to reduce levels of gun violence?
Answer from Gary Mandell:

Reducing violent crime in Chicago should be a key priority. We cannot keep our citizens living here if it is not safe to do so. Most crimes committed with firearms are committed by individuals who are in possession of those firearms illegally.  Therefore, I am in favor of strict enforcement of laws regarding any individuals found guilty of trafficking in illegal firearms.  I am also in favor of the strict enforcement of gun registration laws.  Anyone caught possessing a firearm which has not been properly registered to that person, shall be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.


There should be reasonable registration and waiting period laws with respect to gun show and Internet sales, both intrastate and interstate, as well as the enforcement of stiffer penalties for persons convicted of crimes committed with illegal firearms.


I support the elimination of sales of assault weapons to individuals for recreational use.


In addition, I back increased research into fingerprint technology that would limit the ability of anyone but the lawfully registered gun owner from firing the weapon and possibly the ability to unlock the properly stored gun.  I am in favor of strengthening laws regarding the proper safety and storage of guns.


Finally, I am in favor of an amnesty period whereby illegal and/or stolen weapons can be turned into police stations with no questions asked for a period of time. Not only should this reduce violent crimes, but if my platform of making Illinois a better place to get a job after high school should come to fruition, there will be more incentive for students to stay in school, stay out of gangs, and therefore, reduce the levels of crime that our city now sees on its streets.


A number of states and local jurisdictions (including Chicago) have recently increased the minimum wage. Do you support or oppose a statewide increase in the minimum wage? If so, what should the new minimum be, and by when? Should local jurisdictions be prohibited from passing their own minimum wage laws?
Answer from Gary Mandell:

 There’s a lot that economists don’t agree on: monetary policy, tax policy, environmental and energy policy, and host of other complicated and obscure issues.

So when you do find overwhelming agreement among expert economists on a particular subject, there’s good reason to sit up and pay attention, particularly when it contradicts what the vast majority of lay people believe.

While minimum wage increases is a highly populist idea, 79% of all economists agree that the minimum wage increases unemployment among the young and unskilled.

When politicians say that by raising the minimum wage the government can, in one step, “raise the incomes of millions of working families,” they are missing this most fundamental fact about prices.

The immediate effect of an increase in the minimum wage is obvious: some workers are paid a higher wage. But we must consider the long-term impact of such policy:

1. Employers will use less labor.  By increasing the cost of unskilled labor, employers are encouraged to invest in more capital (machines, equipment, and technology) and in higher-skilled, more experienced, more productive workers.  Employers will make sure that the marginal product of that labor will be equivalent to its cost.

2. Unemployment among unskilled workers will rise. Workers who are making the minimum legal amount are, by definition, on the margin of employment. They tend to be disproportionately young, uneducated, inexperienced, and unskilled. If you raise the cost of employing them above what market rate for their skills are, you will price them out of the labor market.

When the minimum wage is raised, in practice, these effects need not manifest themselves in the immediate termination of any employee making below the new minimum wage (although it may well lead to the letting go of the least productive workers). Rather, what is more likely is that it will be harder for young and unskilled people to get hired in the first place, as they compete for entry level jobs in the market.

Minimum wage laws ensure that no one works for less than a certain amount, and this leads to much self-congratulation among its supporters, but it merely conceals the problem it is supposed to solve, by making sure that people who can’t produce that amount make nothing because they can’t find a job.

Illinois already suffers with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.  Implementing any policy that forces employers to reduce hiring and/or layoff current employees, will only make this situation worse.

What we need to do, through better education and vocational training, is make sure that our population is skilled enough to be able to find and keep jobs where their value to the employer is greater than the cost of having them on the payroll.


In the past couple of legislative sessions, there has been a proposal to add a 1 cent tax on all sugar-sweetened beverages sold in Illinois. Do you support or oppose such a measure, and why?
Answer from Gary Mandell:

 I do not support a “Soda Tax” or any other “Sin Taxes” on the people of Illinois.  Proponents of such taxes peddle them by claiming they are looking out for our health.  In reality, these politicians have already spent the revenue the tax will generate. So, the state will actually DEPEND on Illinoisans continuing to drink sugary soda, or smoke cigarettes, or eat fatty foods because the State needs the revenue.

Furthermore, I will oppose new taxes until we make significant reforms to the way state government works and ensure that the tax dollars our families are paying actually go to provide the services we value.




In recent years, there has been a growing push to increase the development and use of renewable energy sources. Do you support or oppose these preferences?
Answer from Gary Mandell:

 I support market-based solutions.  There is a large and growing segment of the population that has a very large interest in renewable energy. More and more people recycle, use renewable energy, and clean up their act every year. It is getting better. And it's because market forces are pushing for it.

I oppose government picking winners and losers in any arena. While energy is needed to fuel a modern society, government should not be subsidizing any particular form of energy. I oppose all government control of energy pricing, allocation, and production.


Political Beliefs

Position Papers

Please see the Summary below.


Please go the and click on the Issues tab.  There, you will find papers on many of the most important issues facing voters in this election, including:

  • Blancing the Budget
  • Education Funding
  • Taxes
  • Business Climate
  • Safety
  • Term Limits
  • Pension Reform

Please see Summary above.

Videos (1)

— October 3, 2016 Chicago Sun-Times

Gary Mandell tells why he should be the representative from the 11th district.

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