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November 8, 2016 — Illinois General Election
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Illinois State SenateCandidate for District 22

Photo of Tracy Smodilla

Tracy Smodilla

Small business owner and Community Advocate
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Balanced Budget
  • Economic Growth and Opportunity
  • Education and Education Funding



Profession:Small business owner and Community Advocate
Owner, Trinity Therapeutics, Inc. (2000–current)
Commissioner, Bartlett Economic Development — Appointed position (2013–current)
Committee Member, RTA Transportation Oriented District Steering Committee — Appointed position (2015–current)
Adjunct Faculty, Elgin Community College (2015–2015)
Producer/Director of New Business Development for Creative Services, Campaign Communications (1997–1999)
District Manager, American Express (1996–1997)
President/Owner, TravelMax, Ltd. (1989–1996)


Chicago School of Massage Therapy Diploma, Massage Therapy (2000)
Institute of Certified Travel Agents Certication, Travel Industry (1990)
American Institute of Banking Certifications, Banking (1983)

Community Activities

Government Relations Committee, Chair, American Massage Therapy Association (IL Chapter) (2009–2012)
1st VP (2011-2012), Member at Large (2009-2011), House of Delegates (2005), American Massage Therapy Association (IL Chapter) (2005–2012)
Government Relations Coordinator, American Massage Therapy Association (IL Chapter) (2005–2006)
President, BartlettCARE (Citizens Advocating Responsible Environments) (1999–2002)
President (1996-1998), Vice President (1995-1996), Secretary (1993), Soroptimist International (Chicago Northwest Suburban Club) (1992–1998)


Tracy is an experienced and accomplished small business entrepreneur with more than 25 years of diverse volunteer and advocate service to her community. Despite a harsh childhood of socio-economic hardship, living in 10 different homes (including a period of homelessness) and attending 10 different schools before graduating high school, Tracy never allowed her circumstances define her life. Though family and financial stresses made college unaccessible at that time, Tracy still charted a careeer path that started in the Harris Trust Department and ultimately to American Express. In between, she aquired certification classes pertinent to both the financial and travel industries, and from 1989-1995 was owner of TravelMax, Ltd., providing travel consulting and expense management services to corporations. She also enjoyed two years with a multi-media communications firm providing media solutions that ranged from print to world-wide satellite downlinks to full-scale live show productions for clients such as the American Bar Association and the Cleveland Clinic.

Ready for a change in her career that would meet her need to grow professionally, the needs of her family and consumer demand for natural wellness, Tracy graduated from the internationally renowned Chicago School of Massage Therapy in 2000 and immediately launched Trinity Therapeutics. While growing her practice, she advocated for quality education and state licensure of massage therapists. While a member of the American Massage Therapy Association she served on the Illiniois Chapter Board of Directors and as the Government Relations Chair. While there, she navigated the sunset and sunrise of the Massage Licensing Act that included amendments that would provide great employment opportunities for licensees and increase public safety. She worked on behalf of dozens of licensees at the municipal level to ensure that their practice rights were not infringed up, including derailing an attempt in Chicago to move massage therapy establishments out of the neighorhoods they serve. Tracy has also assisted muncipalities redraft their local ordinances to maintain compliance with state law and protect the practice rights of licensees. In 2009 she was the recipient of the AMTA-IL Distinguished Service Award and has been nominated several times for the National Government Relations Award. She has also been a keynote speaker for Elgin Community College's Massage Therapy Graduating Class commencment exercises and taught at ECC in 2015.

She continues to maintain a happy, healthy practice in Bartlett serving her clients on their path to wellness.

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 Tracy Smodilla:

I fully support term limits for legislators as our framers’ intended, but especially in leadership. The state is suffering in the hands of long-termed career politicians and a ruling-class party with no intention to share in leadership or bi-partisan succession planning. This has bred partisanship and it fully detracts from fair, deliberate and balanced public policy making. The consideration of bi-partisan, termed leadership from all districts around the state would also mitigate the conflict of interest among officials and legislators. Such moves would go a long way to restore trust in our government especially in the wake of the 2014 Illinois Supreme Court decision to throw out 600,000 signatures petitioning for term limits, and recently, a similar decision to toss out nearly the same number for an Independent Maps Amendment. Put government back into the hands of the people, not the politically powerful elite.


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

There’s plenty of blame to go around, but I believe that legislators put election interests ahead of the taxpayers. They settled on introducing a “spending plan” that still had a $7 billion dollar deficit and then a “Stopgap budget” that still leaves taxpayers, education and human services with no sense of stability. Springfield must get back to the table and agree upon reasonable reforms for pensions, workman’s compensation and local governments some measure of negotiating control. These are reasonable and will support a more business friendly environment that will expand opportunity, promote economic growth, create jobs and broaden the tax base that will restore prosperity to Illinois.


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 Tracy Smodilla:

Higher education is dying primarily because of escalating costs, unfunded pension promises, student debt and more students examining the cost-benefit analysis. Few would argue that higher education provides better job opportunities and earnings potential, but it is also incumbent upon our institutions to be nimble enough to provide educations that are transferrable into the workplace. Many offer vocational programs to ensure work-force ready graduates in industries such as transportation, the building trades, manufacturing and health sciences. However, each college and university must also be nimble in their reaction to trends impacting their finances such as the budget crisis in Illinois, perhaps moving away from greater dependence on public funding. Depending on MAP grants, or making risky moves such as floating those funds while waiting for the state, puts the student and taxpayer in peril. While temporary cuts may be necessary, I believe the state should eventually restore MAP funding to institutions that can respond to the need for jobs in Illinois.


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

The primary problem with the General State Aid formula is that it remains in the hands of politicians and special interests who pick “winners and losers”. The bulk of the money that comes out of GSA is funneled into Chicago and suburban school districts. Unfortunately, property tax cap laws in certain districts allow for students in those districts to get a higher and more disproportionate amount of aid than others. For example, a Chicago student receives a GSA tax subsidy of $811, whereas the downstate student receives $25. The existing system in Illinois should be scrapped in favor of an equitable program where local control of the educational dollar is put into the hands of the parents. The wheel doesn’t need to be reinvented. Some have recommended that we look at one of our neighboring states such Wisconsin for successful alternative programs. We should also consider recent evidence based reports that include simplified formulas that could provide equitable funding for every child in the state based on needs.


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 Tracy Smodilla:

Before we begin talking about more revenue (taxes), let’s talk about spending and then the budget. We must address reforms for pension, workers compensation and a bloated bureaucracy. We should be looking for ways to streamline government operations and services, thus creating better outcomes of service and lowering the costs to taxpayers. Rather than the usual knee-jerk response of raising taxes on the backs of families, businesses and commerce, create a more business friendly environment that will broaden the tax base. Increased growth, opportunities and jobs is what Illinois needs.


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 Tracy Smodilla:

I do not support this measure as a constitutional amendment. Funds raised and appropriated for transportation or anything else should not require a special constitutional protection if we are acting ethically and wholly within the interest of good public policy. Recognizing the importance of a good transportation system to any economy, we will still invest and do this by exercising exemplary stewardship of transportation revenue. Taxpayers should not be burdened with fund sweeps to patch holes in the pension funds.


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 Tracy Smodilla:

a) Move state employees to 401k-style retirement plans;

b) Reamortize the existing debt into an affordable line item to the state debt;

c) Remove or renegotiate COLA.

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

I support reasonable reforms in the criminal justice system that would in fact reduce our prison populations and reduce recidivism. Programs to assist non-violent offenders get treatment or rehabilitation, programs for reintegration and employment should be supported by our state and the community at large.


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 Tracy Smodilla:

I believe that you are innocent until proven guilty. The seizure of private property without due process or prior to conviction should be forbidden. I would support a reasonable freeze on the transfer of assets while a case is pending, but not an outright seizure.


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

I support the health, safety and dignity of all persons, including the transgendered. However, my concern with HB6073 is the opportunity for unintended consequences when a document such as a birth certificate, is not reflective of the natural, biological and anatomical characteristics of a male, born male, or a female, born female; or when sex-affirmation, reassignment surgery has not been made. So the bigger question is, does HB6073 truly protect the health, safety and dignity for all persons, including our transgendered always? Specifically, would transgender persons receive the appropriate, urgent medical care in an emergency and they were unresponsive? In our transient world, would they be subject to discrimination, harassment or worse when traveling to other states or countries without similar legislation? I have concerns that HB6073 could be exploited by any persons with less honorable intentions or to dodge the law, especially because of the gender fluidity the bill provides for.


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 Tracy Smodilla:

Life is precious and I personally support life from “womb to tomb”. However, when our terminally ill are suffering and death is clearly imminent, I believe that legal options be made available so that they may exercise any final decisions for their lives with dignity. I believe that consciously prepared advance directives from the terminally ill person for their family and physicians should be a requirement for this option to avoid issues that may arise from ambiguity. 


What measures do you support to reduce levels of gun violence?
Answer from Tracy Smodilla:

First, enforce the Federal Laws we already have and prosecute offenders accordingly, keeping criminals and illegal guns off the street. More laws do not stop criminals from securing guns illegally, and only serve to infringe upon the rights of law-abiding citizens. However, I would support closely examining the current laws for straw purchases to ensure that they are effective without unintentionally criminalizing otherwise law-abiding citizens. Second, I wholly support community based programs that put an emphasis on restoring values that teach non-violent conflict resolution.


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 Tracy Smodilla:

I support wages that are commensurate with the type of job and influenced by local economic conditions and what the marketplace will bear. First, because the cost of living varies across the state, a mandatory increase in the minimum wage would be over-burdensome for downstate employers compared to those in Chicago. Second, we should not be conflating minimum wage with living wage: low-skilled and entry-level jobs provide workers with experience and flexibility, and should be a springboard to higher-earning jobs. These are jobs meant for people just entering the workforce, not life-long careers. Mandating wages would force employers to reduce their workforce and/or eliminate other meaningful benefits. That would lead to dollars being extracted from the local economy and higher unemployment, especially among our youth.  The better question is how do we increase the number of job opportunities in Illinois that provide actual living wages and benefits for families?


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 Tracy Smodilla:

Can legislation get much more ridiculous? Of course I oppose a “nanny” tax such as this. We are a people who still remain free to choose what they want to eat and drink without the interference of government. I support manufacturers and businesses that distribute these beverages without the imposition of yet another tax.


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 Tracy Smodilla:

I have some concerns about these initiatives. I support the idea of alternate energy sources, as long as the legislative playing field for all energy producers is level and taxpayers are left off the hook of subsidization. Proponents of the proposed Clean Jobs Bill, “promises” to create as many as 32,000 of new jobs if it’s passed, yet don’t comment on the loss of jobs in other energy sectors. Supporters also claim that passage of the bill will cause energy demand to decrease by twenty percent by the year 2025 and would "enable solar and wind energy projects to flourish." However, under Illinois’ energy efficiency law, utility companies pass on new costs to customers. Therefore, if the Clean Jobs Bill passed, households and businesses using electricity will still pay more money to subsidize the cost of wind turbines and other renewable energy sources such as solar and hydroelectric.


Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

Growing up in difficult circumstances helped Tracy become a keen observer of life and progessive policies affecting families. Living through the economic devastation of the 1970's, she cast her first ballot for Ronald Reagan in 1980 believing that conservative fiscal policies were a means to give hope to those who sought a better life by seeking and engaging opportunities. A hand up, not a hand out....compassion with action.

She believes not necessarily in a specific political philosophy, but a platform of principled positions for good governance, underpinned by the Constituion and the Bill of Rights. These include transparency, accountability and limited government; economic growth and opportunity; sustainable programs and policies that promote, enhance and preserve a high-quality of life for all communities; respect for our citizens and our laws. In these principles, she believes that we must work together to protect the innocent and care for our vulnerable. And that we promote and preserve the dignity of the able by encouraging their participation as productive members of our society and helping them reach their greatest selves.

Videos (1)

— October 3, 2016 Chicago Sun-Times

Tracy Smodilla tells why she should be the state senator from the 22nd district.

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