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November 8, 2016 — Illinois General Election
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Illinois State House of RepresentativesCandidate for District 59

Photo of Dawn Abernathy

Dawn Abernathy

Republican
Trustee - Village of Mundelein, Substitute Teacher and Mom - not necessarily in that order!
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Fiscally responsible Balanced Budget
  • Pension Reform
  • A first class, quality education for all students K-12

Experience

Experience

Profession:Trustee - Village of Mundelein, Substitute Teacher and Mom - not necessarily in that order!
Trustee, Village of Mundelein (2013–current)
Trustee, Village of Mundelein — Elected position (2013–current)
Board of Directors, Lake County Housing Authority — Appointed position (2015–current)
Ass. Director, Central Lake County Joint Action Water Association — Appointed position (2015–current)

Education

National Louis University, Skokie, IL M. A. T., education k-9 (2008)
University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fl. Bachelor of Science, majors:political science and public relations minor:marketing (1988)

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 Dawn Abernathy:

One of my main goals when elected will be to work for term limits for all legislators and legislative leaders. It will be the first step in ending the tyranny that is caused from career politicians, such as Michael Madigan, over the people of Illinois.

 

Career politicians are in office for over 20 years and they stop listening and working for the people that they represent, instead they work to keep their power by bowing to the lobbies and PAC’s that support their campaign efforts. It becomes a vicious cycle and the people of Illinois constantly lose. People will use the line “elections are term limits”, that would be true but here in Illinois, election precincts are not drawn with “fair” in mind. They are drawn to protect the politico’s that are in office. Not only do the majority of residents support term limits, they also supported the fair map amendment. The people of Illinois have lost their voice, Mike Madigan has seen to that. 

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

 

There is enough blame to go around all of Springfield. As I walk door-to-door, the most common phrase I hear is that as soon as someone is able to retire, or as soon as their child is done in high school, they are moving out of Illinois. Families are being taxed out of their home, our state is broke, and we have the highest unemployment rate in the nation. Governor Rauner has only been there for 2 years, this mess we are in has been happening for years. But I turn on the TV or open the mailbox and there is the politicians touting how they are working for us. On what? We pay the highest property taxes despite all the politicians, including incumbents saying they are for lower taxes. If they all want them, why don’t we have them? Because it is all a talking point to gain support. No real legislation will be passed by both houses. Why don’t we have a balanced budget? They all claim to be fiscally conservative, again, another talking point.

 

I am going to Springfield to do the right thing, not just say the right thing. As a trustee in Mundelein, I have voted and passed term limits, I have voted and passed a balanced budget, and I have voted and passed a property tax freeze for the past 3 years. This isn’t talking points, this is action for my constituents.

 

I am going to Springfield to bring balance. For too long, Springfield and Illinois has been run by one party. Our families in my community are suffering and no one is listening and serving them.

 

Springfield needs new leaders. A  Leadership that is focused on serving the interest of the community and not their own power. I am going to work with reform-minded Democrats and Republicans to serve our community and protect our families. We need leaders that are willing to work across the aisle to get the job done, to bring about the reforms in order to balance the budget.

 

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 Dawn Abernathy:

 

No one said that leadership was easy. Governor Rauner arrived in Springfield with massive challenges waiting for him. The test of any true leader is to stand against the bullies and push for reforms. This is what I would do. Stand against the political elite and say “no more!”

 

After 40 years of bad decisions, we have to work  together and make the tough decisions if we are to get our state back, our businesses back, our schools educating and our students performing at the top tier of the country, not the bottom. I salute Governor Rauner for standing firm, and not agreeing to an unbalanced budget. I agree to his sticking to his turnaround agenda and not pushing it down the road as has been done by so many, Democrats and Republicans alike.

 

We just had a four-year case study. Democrats raised taxes by 67% in 2011, and the tax increase was in place for four years. After $31 billion dollars in new revenue, after those four years, we still have the same problems. We still have a huge pile of unpaid bills, about $8.3 billion, the worst-funded pension system in the country, and our schools still struggle. Even while the tax increase was in effect, Illinois received several credit-rating downgrades, to the lowest in the nation and our financial position deteriorated.

 

Reform isn’t easy. Tough decisions are needed. It takes people willing to work to make change, rather than talking points and sound bites. Ignoring harsh realities isn’t leadership. Working for real change, even if they are politically unpopular, is what is needed.

 

That is the leadership I will bring to Springfield. Someone that is willing to do the unpopular, to get the job done. Many incumbants have backed away from the real work, but I am ready and willing to do the job that has to be done. Make the tough decisions to make Illinois the best in the Midwest, and the Country.

 

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

 

There are 3 objectives to school funding: equity, efficiency and excellence.

 

These goals are not being achieved by the current system of property taxes, state and federal aid. The system is failing the students and families need new options.

 

Allow families to decide where their child is educated, what school is best for their child. Instead of sending the money to bureaucracies like CPS, the State would send the money with the child. It will change how the money flows and who makes the decision on how Illinois taxpayers’ monies are spent on students in K-12 education. Rather than investing in a bureaucracy, we are investing in our students.

 

Politicians and public sector unions have too much control over our dollars, parents have too little. The politicians have continuously protected this failed system for the unions and PACs that continue to fund their campaigns.

 

Now, they want to go even further. They want to take our tax dollars and reallocate millions of dollars of state funding to CPS. They call it “equity”. It is unacceptable.

 

It is time for Illinois to put parents and students ahead of the unions. I will go to Springfield to expand educational opportunities for all children in Illinois. Let parents pick the school and method of learning that is best for their child, especially the students that are in failing school districts. A good educaqtion can mean the difference between the realization of a young person’s potential or slipping through the cracks and becoming another statistic.

 

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 Dawn Abernathy:

 

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

 

 

 

Here are the facts:

 

      Illinois has more than enough tax revenue - State per capita tax revenues have grown 70 percent more than inflation over the last 33 years. As a result, Illinois collected $265 billion more than it would have if per capita tax revenues had only grown at the rate of inflation since 1983.

 

      Illinois politicians continue to spend more money than the state takes in - Despite those plentiful tax revenues, Illinois has not had a balanced budget since 2001. That problem will only worsen as the nearly $170 billion in unfunded promises made with respect to state-worker retirements come due. Pension costs alone now consume 25 percent of the entire state general fund budget.

 

      Politicians’ spending priorities are misplaced - The state of Illinois spends a significant portion of its budget on worker pay, health coverage and pensions, which has crowded out funding for core government services. Funding for state-worker pay and benefits increased by nearly 600 percent from 2000 to 2015. That contrasts sharply with funding for core services, which stagnated during that same period. Higher education spending is down 8 percent, human services funding is up only 10 percent, public safety spending is up 12 percent, and funding for K-12 education is up 35 percent.

 

      Record tax hikes didn’t fix Illinois’ budget problems - The massive 2011-2014 income-tax hike did nothing to solve Illinois’ fiscal crisis or fund social services. Instead, the additional tax revenues fueled Illinois’ failed spending priorities: government-worker pay and benefits. Politicians doubled payments to pensions during those four years, while funding for K-12 and higher education actually fell by nearly 10 percent.

 

 

 

Illinois needs to prioritize its spending, and cut unnecessary and wasteful spending. Then, in order to return the state to solvency long-term, we have to make structural reforms to our failing systems.

 

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 Dawn Abernathy:

 

The people of Illinois deserve leaders and representatives that will balance the state’s budget and return the state to prosperity. This amendment concept  will shuffle the deck chairs, but we all know the Titanic still sunk!

 

The number one issue facing Illinois and impacting our budget is our inability to compete with other states for jobs and economic development. Illinois is blessed with great infrastructure, world-class educational institutions, a highly skilled workforce, and a diverse base of industries. Illinois should be leading the Midwest with a booming economy providing high quality jobs for our families. Instead, families and businesses are fleeing because of high taxes and overly strict regulation. Illinois is 48 out of 50 in the nation in the creation of jobs, unemployment rates and opportunities over the last two decades. Since the year 2000, the 50 states combined have created almost 12 million net new jobs. Illinois has created no net new jobs. Illinois has fewer jobs today than we had 17 years ago. If we don’t correct that problem, nothing else matters.

 

I’m going to Springfield to reform state government, reduce taxes, and improve the business climate so middle-income workers can find and keep jobs. I’m going to Springfield to ensure government is serving our interests.

 

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 Dawn Abernathy:

 

We need to pay workers what they’ve earned, including promised pensions, and let them control their futures. Unless major changes to the public pensions in Illinois occur in the near future, government employee pensions could go the way of those in Detroit. And families across the state will continue to see their tax burdens skyrocket.

 

I support legislation that moves all current public employees into self-managed plans for future work, while protecting already-earned benefits. This approach is more likely to pass constitutional review, because it focuses on changing future benefits that have yet to be earned.

 

The pension issue is an issue of fairness. Is it fair for working families making an average of $50,000 per year to finance lifetime benefits for government workers?

 

Is it fair to perpetuate a state pension system where pension checks could bounce and pensioners could be left with nothing? State workers deserve the security and control of owning their own retirement accounts and shouldn’t have to pay into a system controlled by politicians.

 

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

 

In 2015, Illinois Gov. Bruce 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.

 

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.

 

In May, the Illinois Policy Institute commissioned Fabrizio, Lee & Associates to conduct a poll of 500 registered Illinois voters to gauge opinion on criminal-justice reform.

 

Eighty-three percent of poll respondents support reducing the number of nonviolent offenders in Illinois prisons – including 92 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of Republicans and 82 percent of Independents.

 

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 Dawn Abernathy:

 

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 uncheck power any government to do these things, and hold that governments must not violate the rights of individuals: namely, (1) the right to life—accordingly I support the prohibition of the initiation of physical force against others; (2) the right to liberty of speech and action—accordingly, I oppose all attempts by government to abridge the freedom of speech and expression; and (3) the right to property—accordingly, 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 Dawn Abernathy:

 

Our state, our nation is in a time of transition. Courts have redefined marriage, and beliefs about human sexuality are changing. At this time during the debate, it is important to protect someone’s right to disagree peacefully, and the civil liberties of those who speak and act in accord with their protected beliefs.

 

Good public policy is needed at the local, state and federal levels to protect the rights of all involved.

 

My personal belief is that gender is linked with biology. To simply declare someone that is genetically/biologically born a male is a female is to ignore physical evidence to the contrary. The government is powerful, and many times too powerful, but it cannot deny the laws of biology to suit its own agenda.

 

That being said, I understand that transgender persons have a legitimate privacy concern, as do non-transgender persons. I am going to Springfield to represent all members of my community, and will treat LGBT 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 Dawn Abernathy:

 

There is nothing more precious than life. All life has value. If we ratify suicide, we might help a few people, but more importantly we will be neglecting many. We need sound health policy, planning and care in order to emphasize quality of life, at the end of life. We fail to demand of doctors and the medical system what is possible. There can be a quality of life for someone to live, love and learn in their last days, weeks or months of life. We discard that potential. Society should not be able to declare that at a certain point, life has no value.

 

We must demand ourselves and our society to improve life at its end. To be distracted and neglect life’s potential is ethically questionable. It is a vital conversation and we all have much to learn. Quality at the end of life must be our destination.

 

What measures do you support to reduce levels of gun violence?
Answer from Dawn Abernathy:

 

So many debates on stricter regulations proceed from a premise that gun control obviously works, rather from the presumption that we do not know what to do to reduce gun violence.

 

This is a shame. There is conflicting evidence whether new laws would do any good at all. In my opinion, they won’t. The argument “more guns = more crimes” we often hear, ad nauseam are pretty much absurd. Over the past 25 years, Americans have bought more than 100 million new guns, and most of the 50 states have liberalized the laws that govern their purchase, possession and use. In reality, the “gun-murder” rate has been cut in half.

 

If we are to have an honest debate about gun control, it is about the amount of firearms that are in circulation. This is a complex issue that involves the raw number of weapons, the laws under which they are regulated and the incidence of crime.

 

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 Dawn Abernathy:

 

Economists don’t agree on many things: monetary policy; environmental and energy policy; and many other issues. When a discussion about a minimum wage increase occurs, 79% of all economists agree unemployment among the young adults and unskilled laborers rise.

 

In short, prices reflect the costs that are involved in making the product. When politicians talk about raising the minimum wage, they forget this fact.

 

1.     Employers will use less labor: I don’t know why this concept is lost on politicians. When the price of a product goes up, people will buy less of a product. Manufacturers will also find a way to make the same product, but for less money. Thus, they will invest in machinery, equipment and technology. They will also seek higher-skilled, more experienced and more productive laborers.

 

2.     Unemployment among unskilled workers will rise. These are often the young, uneducated, inexperienced and unskilled individuals. If you raise the cost of employing these workers, you are, in essence, pricing them out of the labor market. These entry level jobs are going to become few and create an unfair competition for entry level jobs. If someone is unable to produce, they will not get the job. Employers will invest in machinery to raise productivity of their employees and hire more skilled workers to run the machine.

 

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 Dawn Abernathy:

 

This “soda tax” or the “sin tax” is just another way for the government to expand their scams on the public sector. By declaring they are worried about our health, they are placing a tax on soft drinks and other "unhealthy" items in order to generate the revenue they have already spent. So the politicians will rely and depend on us to continue to eat fatty foods, drink sugary beverages and smoke cigarettes to increase revenue. It is a vicious circle.

 

I will not support any new taxes without reforms to the way our government works. Families need to know the money they are paying, goes to the services that they want and 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 Dawn Abernathy:

 

In terms of renewable energy, there are many market-based solutions. I oppose the government dictating what forms of energy are preferable for the end user. While energy is needed, government should not be subsidizing any particular form of energy. Pricing, allocation and production of energy should not be interfered with or controlled by any government entity.

 

Today, many towns and villages are urging residents to use renewable energy sources. More and more people are recycling and each year it increases. Market forces are pushing this to happen. In Mundelein, we have negotiated a new contract for residents in regard to their waste management. If you switch to a larger recycle bin, and smaller garbage bin, you will get a 12% reduction in your waste removal rates. There is the market-base solution encouraging residents to recycle.

 

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