Voter’s Edge Illinois
Get the facts before you vote.
Brought to you by
November 8, 2016 — Illinois General Election
We depend on your support.
Share your knowledge

Text VOTE to 52000 to donate $10.

Do you feel better informed having used Voter's Edge?

Help us inform other voters.

Illinois State House of RepresentativesCandidate for District 18

Photo of Jessica Tucker

Jessica Tucker

Use tab to activate the candidate button. Use "return" to select this candidate. You can access your list by navigating to 'My Choices'.
For more in-depth information on this candidate, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.
Candidate has provided information.
Thank candidate for sharing their information on Voter's Edge.

My Top 3 Priorities

  • Ensure fiscal accountability and balanced budgets.
  • Promote economic opportunities and job growth to provide jobs and a strong tax base which will help fund priorities such as educational excellence and social services.
  • Foster safe neighborhoods and quality community services.



Winnetka Village President (Served two, two-year terms), Winnetka — Elected position (2009–2013)
Winnetka Village Trustee, Winnetka Village Council (Served two, two-year terms) — Elected position (2004–2008)

Who supports this candidate?

Organizations (1)

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 Jessica Tucker:

Yes.  I support term limits for both legislators and legislative leaders.  While some say that the ultimate term limit is at the ballot box, unfortunately, years of gerrymandering has led to little choice on the ballot. Approximately 67% of our elections this year are uncontested with no choice for voters.  We now have the longest-serving House Speaker in the nation, marking a 31st year of 45 years in office (1971.)  Fifteen states have term limits (e.g. CA is 6 years in the Assembly and 8 years in the Senate.)  A decade in office is plenty of time to effectuate change and implement policies, yet still allow voters to maintain control over entrenched bureaucracies.  Staggering terms would help maintain continuity, consistency and institutional knowledge.  We need to become a state where representation is about service to the people, not about incumbency, partisanship, and a political career.

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

Why ask who's fault regarding the budget impasse?  There is enough fault to go around, and frankly, this just continues the partisan blame game and divisiveness, and solves nothing.  According to Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Business Economist Thom Walstrum, Illinois hasn't had a balanced budget since the 1980s.  Through the years, underfunding of pensions (considered part of compensation) spending upwards of 116% of revenue, and large spending on general debt interest from billions borrowed to plug deficit holes, has now left Illinois with a $5.5 billion operating deficit and a $7.7 billion backlog of bills.  This, despite having the fifth largest economy in the country, the highest median property tax rate and the highest property taxes overall, plus an additional $31.5 billion in new revenue through the temporary personal and corporate income tax spike. (67% and 45%, respectively)  Illinois has a spending problem, not a revenue problem, and until lawmakers set aside partisan politics, or new legislators are voted into office with the will to truly balance the budget with no political gimmicks or fuzzy political math, the failed status quo will prevail.

Four brave legislators (one Democrat and three Republicans) who voted against the 6-month, stop-gap spending plan, declared that the state budget can be balanced. They all noted reforming Medicaid and pension plans, cutting administrative costs and re-amortizing the debt for starters.  At the local level, we also focused on administrative costs, organizational charts, staffing, and compensation, as well as joint bidding and purchasing, sharing of services, reviewing department operating costs, cross training, strategic planning, in-depth budget reviews, and much more, to contain costs and balance budgets each and every year, while maintaining Aaa credit ratings and providing core services to the community.  Serving at the local level in Winnetka, unpaid and 12-months/year, we spent many additional hours over several months reviewing every aspect of the municipal budget before adoption.  Contrast this to the recent Statehouse process, partially seen in a video clip (with over a million views) of the exchange between Representative Kay and Representative Currie on legislators having to review a $40 billion, unbalanced by $7 billion, 534-page 'budget' in about 3 hours before a vote was called.  Google: '"This is simply embarrassing." Ditto.'


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 Jessica Tucker:

Without proper context to the reference that our Governor feels that additional large cuts could be necessary in higher education, one cannot agree or disagree. The tragedy of Illinois education funding through the years is startling and shameful.  According to some, Illinois ranks 45th in the nation with regard to four-year public university affordability, and 46th in overall tuition cost.  State appropriations for higher education fell from approximately $2.98 billion in 2002 to $2.42 billion in 2013.  With the state's four-year institutions increasingly out of reach for in-state students, Illinois sends more students to other states for college than it welcomes and many do not return.  While the State struggles to provide education funding and other core services, almost a quarter of its budget is now consumed by pension costs.  Look at the Better Government Association's pension database.  The number of government retirees in 2015 receiving six-figure retirement payouts grew to 14,320 - up from 12,056 the year before.  The top 10 biggest pensions are all from the SURS (State Universities Retirement System) ranging from $368,742/yr to the highest at $547,862/yr.  While we know that this is a multidimensional problem that has been building over time, it highlights the high compensation and pension costs.  State universities must be accountable for tax dollars received.  Empowering our universities and community colleges to reduce their administrative costs, pension liabilities, procurement reform, and other expenses, will help free up funds for student grants and other tuition-related relief for those students in need of assistance.

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

Arguably, the most important function we do as communities and as a state is to educate our children.  A high-quality education is key to economic empowerment, a world-class work force, upward mobility and prosperity.  We know that the state's school funding formula must be repaired.  For 2013 - 2014, Illinois ranked 50th in state funding and since 2009, funding has declined by approximately $1.4 billion (adjusted for inflation.)  We see school districts around the state, such as Pana, Sandoval, Taylorville and Elgin with larger class sizes, outdated materials and families struggling with increased fees for sports, books and buses.  We see an ever-increasing funding gap between low- and high-poverty school districts.  Given the different methods of funding allocation, the complexities of this issue, and the fact that Democrats and Republicans do not have consensus in their own parties on what to do, the Governor established the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission, a bi-partisan group of legislators tasked with finding a solution that is fair to taxpayers and school districts, and puts the needs of students first.  New options being discussed include the EBM or evidence-based model approach that seeks to identify the level of funding necessary to deliver an adequate education to each student in the state.  Then we must decide how to distribute the funds...does the money follow the student in voucher form to let parents have a choice?  Do the funds go directly to school districts and if so, perhaps it is not so much the amount of money but how it is applied?  In addition, if enrollment is down and there are empty seats, it will be a different conversation than where enrollment is up and there are not enough seats.  I would defer to the Commission's review, analysis and recommendations.  A report is expected in February, 2017, for the 2018 school year.

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 Jessica Tucker:

This question also assumes that additional taxes must be imposed to fix Illinois' spending problems.  While I have not signed the "No tax pledge" I do oppose all attempts at tax increases until we thoroughly drill down into the expenditure side of the state ledger and have comprehensive, global, good-faith discussions on the cost of government.  We already paying some of the highest taxes in the country, and asking residents to pay more to state government, whether by an increase in the flat income tax, a new tax on services, a new graduated income tax, a new tax on retirement benefits, property tax increases, a new sugar-sweetened food/beverage product tax, more gambling taxes, or taxing Illinois residents for the mileage they drive on public roads, will only serve to drive more working-class families, businesses and job creators out of state for better opportunities and lower costs of living/doing business elsewhere.  Again, I refer you to the "This is simply embarrassing" video clip of a brief legislative exchange on the 534-page state budget that questioned whether duplicate expenditures, new programs and other expenses were essential priorities when the state is broke.  The House supported this irresponsible spending plan, the Senate, on a bi-partisan vote by 31 Senators, defeated it.  

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 Jessica Tucker:

It is interesting that legislators were able to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot for transportation and other state infrastructure needs (of course, very important) yet could not place a term limit or independent map amendment on the ballot - two initiatives widely popular and supported throughout the state which would provide fair representation and a more balanced General Assembly than the supermajority status quo we have had in place since 2012.

I support this measure aimed at protecting the state's transportation-related funding from being used for other purposes.  I believe that funding currently comes from tolls, taxes and other transportation-related sources.  A review of those sources, along with accountability for expenditures by Metra, CTA and other recipients should take place before looking to increase tolls or mandate new taxes, such as the proposed tax on mileage driven on public roads. Capital expenditures on infrastructure also create good middle-class jobs; a shrinking economic commodity in Illinois.

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 Jessica Tucker:

Pensions are a promise and we must keep our promises, despite the underfunding and plundering of the pension systems in the past.  That being said, in order to secure the long-term viability of state pensions and ensure benefits are paid in full and on time, we must reform our pensions for future retirees so that state workers have a secure retirement, and the state has sufficient revenue to fund programs that are discretionary, such as social services and education.  

Pension reform proposals I support include: 1) Eliminating political pensions for part-time lawmakers (currently, after 20 years, legislators receive 85% of their pay and they are also the highest paid legislature in the midwest and the fifth highest paid in the country); 2) Offering a self-managed 401(k)-styled plan for new government employees.  The Illinois Supreme Court's ruling doesn't affect retirement plans offered to new workers.  Across the country, self-managed plans are being adopted for all new state and municipal workers; 3) Buy-out of current employees' pension plans to reinvest in their own 401(k)-style plan.  Government employees may not want to be trapped in insolvent politician-controlled plans and may opt for more flexibility and control over how their money is invested; 4) Limit the growth of pensionable salaries.  For example, including accumulated vacation pay or sick-time pay, longevity pay, or end-of-career salary-spiking, greatly increases the pension payout.  The higher the end-of-career wage, the higher the pension. This practice should be eliminated.

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

Yes.  Governor Rauner recently signed a dozen or so criminal justice reform bills aimed at taking steps toward reducing prison populations by focusing on rehabilitation to reduce recidivism and to help low level offenders rebound for the opportunity of a better future.  It was wonderful to see bipartisan support and acahievement in a contentious, divisive political environment, on the important issue of reforming the Illinois criminal justice system.  Focusing resources on community programs such as Redeploy Illinois, which provides financial assistance to counties that agree to a 25% reduction in the number of juveniles committed to state facilities from those counties, helps to save millions in expensive incarceration in state youth prisons, and helps improve the lives of our young citizens by giving them a second chance.  

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 Jessica Tucker:

In the 1990s, asset forfeiture laws were expanded across the country to enable police to seize the property (cash, vaulables, vehicles, even real estate) obtained by drug kingpins and gangs from illicit labor.  Unfortunately, in Illinois, another broken system is hurting innocent, unsuspecting citizens.  One of the biggest concerns is the burden of proof - it falls upon the accused, not the accuser.  The State needs only to show probable cause to permanently seize your property, and if you believe your property was wrongly seized, you bear the burden of proving your innocence.  In addition, there is no requirement in Illinois that law enforcement account for forfeited currency and property, so little is known about its use.  Reforms taking place in other states, such as Minnesota, include seizure of property only after a criminal conviction, or if the property owner confesses to a crime connected to that property.  I support repairing our asset forfeiture law to more accurately reflect criminal wrongdoing, before seizure is allowed.

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

Providing equal opportunity for everyone regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, nationality, race or economic status is an important consideration.  All Illinoisans deserve full civil rights under the law.  While I am open to considering gender markers on birth certificates regardless of physicality, and without undergoing surgery first, this must be balanced with the implications and consequences, intended and unintended (e.g. the right to privacy, fraud and security issues) of this change.  As this topic heats up in state and federal courts across the country, perhaps one solution will be to remove this identifying marker from all legal documents as is the case now with passports and social security cards. I believe we need a lot more information and discussion before I could fully answer this question or make an informed and educated decision on behalf of all Illinoisans if I were called upon to do so as State Representative.


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 Jessica Tucker:

"Death with dignity" a euphemism for 'euthanasia' and 'assisted suicide' is contentious because it poses very difficult moral, ethical, and emotional issues. In general, I am open to the concept of physician-assisted suicide and in having a fact-based, informed discussion as to policies going forward. California is one of only five states that allow terminally ill people to have access to lethal medication; eleven states have recently rejected such laws.  There are questions regarding costs - the federal government cannot legally fund any aid-in-dying programs, and questions regarding medical ethics - doctors are healers, not facilitators, of a patient's death, among other tough considerations. See:

What measures do you support to reduce levels of gun violence?
Answer from Jessica Tucker:

Joblessness, homelessness, mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction: there are myriad conditions that contribute to gun violence and uban crime.  As Winnetka Village President, I was part of the national advocacy group called "Mayors Against Illegal Guns."  Principles such as "Punish - to the maximum extent of the law - criminals who possess, use, and traffic in illegal guns," "Target and hold accountable irresponsible gun dealers who break the law by knowingly selling guns to straw purchasers" and "Support all local, state and federal legislation that targets illegal guns; coordinate legislative, enforcement, and litigation strategies; share information and best practices" are the focus of this effort to reduce gun violence and increase public safety across the country.  As recent as 2012, Chicago was home to more gang members than any other city in the nation and the resulting violence doesn't respect municipal boundaries. Evanston is hiring a Northwestern University intern to research violence as a public health problem.  I support universal background checks on potential buyers by everyone who sells a gun, privately or commercially.  I support the Illinois requirement that all gun owners carry a state-issued Firearm Owner's Identification (FOID) card to buy guns/ammunition, background checks for all gun show firearm sales and straw purchases, and restrictions on semi-automatic assault weapons.  I also support the legislative proposal to allow the Illinois State Police to notify the FBI if someone on the terrorist watch list applies for a firearm owner's card. While I support our Second Amendment rights, I also support smart gun regulations, along with programs to address mental illness and substance abuse, to help prevent gun deaths, injuries and crime in our communities.  See:


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 Jessica Tucker:

I support a gradual, incremental increase in the statewide minimum wage.  A person working full-time should not fall below the proverty line.  Again, this must be a measured and balanced approach.  I believe that small businesses are the economic engine, and predominant employer of jobs, in this state. We need to balance an increase in the minimum wage with consideration of the employers' costs.  If the cost of doing business in Illinois keeps increasing, without off-sets, businesses will continue to relocate out of state or not open shop here to begin with.  We also need to consider the cost of living and of doing business in Chicago and the metropolitan area with say, the same costs and considerations of a downstate, more rural area.  We should allow flexibility at the local level for those jurisdictions that wish to increase their minimum wage above the state's threshold.


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 Jessica Tucker:

By a wide margin, House lawmakers voted down a proposal to impose a tax of one penny per ounce on sugar-sweetened beverages, saying it would have cost consumers an extra $2.88 per case of soda.  Opponents argued that the tax would hit low- and mid-income families the hardest, and jeopardize jobs in the soft drink industry.  In addition, consumers don't necessarily change their pattern of what they buy, but where they buy.  Proponents insist that this legislation will not only raise much needed revenue but will aid in a healthier Illinois regarding obesity-related health issues like diabetes, heart disease and stroke.  I am open to considering additional 'sin' taxes, but not before we look at cost-containment measures and controlling expenses.  Where do you stop with taxes on what might be considered 'unhealthy' beverage and/or food products? If you are going to tax unhealthy, sugar-sweetened beverages (this is not just soda, but energy drinks, flavored waters, juice beverages and more) to be fair, we should tax unhealthy, sugar-added, junk food such as candy bars, Twinkies and the like. Where do you draw the line on this slippery slope? Instead, why not an entire overhaul of sales tax on consumable goods? Medical evidence identifies certain products (sugar, tobacco, alcohol, etc) that have a negative effect on one's health, and other products (quinoa and kale, anyone?) that have a more positive effect on one's health. If a morality-neutral, medically-based ratings system could be made for all consumables, a sales tax that reflects the societal cost of people's consumption choices may ultimately accommodate the goals of so-called sin taxes, while also raising awareness on healthy consumption choices accross the board.


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 Jessica Tucker:

We all want a clean, healthy environment free of noxious fumes, toxic wastes, aggravatingly loud noises, overflowing landfills, and contaminated waters.  The Illinois Constitution, Article XI, Sections 1 and 2, pertain to the right to a healthy environment for the benefit of this and future generations.  There are numerous programs from energy impact and green energy loans to rebates for solar and wind programs.  I support smart policies that pursue renewable power supply opportunities as an increasing percentage of our energy portfolios, while continuing to meet increased load requirements for consumers at reasonable cost and without contributing to an already higher-than-national average unemployment rate.

Videos (1)

— October 3, 2016 Chicago Sun-Times

Jessica Tucker tells why she should be the state representative from the 18th district.

Who else is running?

Please share this site to help others research their voting choices.