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November 8, 2016 — Illinois General Election
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Illinois State SenateCandidate for District 23

Photo of Thomas E. Cullerton

Thomas E. Cullerton

United States Army veteran, former Route Salesman for Hostess, and current Illinois State Senator
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Work in bipartisan manner to increase fiscal responsibility, including passing a responsible budget and consolidating wasteful government
  • Fight for increased funding for all levels of education in Illinois
  • Invest in Illinois small businesses and working families



Profession:United States Army veteran, former Route Salesman for Hostess, and current Illinois State Senator
State Senator, Illinois General Assembly — Elected position (2013–current)
Route Salesman, Hostess (2004–2013)
President, Village of Villa Park — Elected position (2009–2013)
Commissioner, DuPage County Water Commission — Elected position (2011–2013)
Trustee, Village of Villa Park — Elected position (2005–2009)
11H TOW Gunner and Combat Medic, United States Army (1990–1993)


University of Kansas n/a, Liberal Arts (1990)

Community Activities

Volunteer, Boy Scouts of America (2005–current)
Member, Knights of Columbus (2005–current)
Member, The American Legion (2005–current)
Volunteer, Citizens Police Academy (2005–current)
Member, Lions Club (2005–2013)


Tom Cullerton, 45, is a father, husband, veteran and dedicated public servant. Tom lives in Villa Park with his wife Stacey, where they are raising their three sons. Currently, Tom serves as State Senator for the 23rd Legislative District.

He won his seat by unseating a 24-year Republican incumbent in 2012. Tom is a proud union member, and prior to his election to the Illinois State Senate he worked as a route salesman for Hostess Brands.

Being from a working class family, Tom understands firsthand the challenges the working families in the 23rd State Senate District face on a daily basis. Tom is undoubtedly one of the strongest voices for middle-class families in the Illinois Senate.

Over the last decade Tom Cullerton has dedicated his life to public service and volunteerism.  In 2005, Tom was elected as a Villa Park Trustee, and because of his thoughtful leadership his community subsequently elected him as Village President in 2009.

Tom took office as Village President during the height of the recent economic recession. Tom was able to lead his team in Villa Park to an improved financial position without cutting essential services or layoffs of rank-and-file workers.

Tom is also a veteran of the United States Army who served as an 11H TOW Gunner and combat medic until being honorably discharged in 1993. His military service has informed his career in public office.

Tom has led efforts improve the lives of veterans in the legislature. Tom has sponsored legislation that set up a Suicide Prevention Task-Force for veterans and streamlined processes for disabled veterans to receive their handicap placards.

In addition to his military service and public service record, Tom is involved in Knights of Columbus, the American Legion, Citizen’s Police Academy, and the Villa Park Chamber of Commerce.

He also coached several of his children’s sports teams and volunteers with his son’s Boy Scouts troop.

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 Thomas E. Cullerton:

1.      I support term limits for Legislative Leaders. I was a Chief Co-sponsor on SJRCA18 which proposed an amendment to the Legislature Article in the Illinois Constitution. Letting our leaders hang on to power for an unlimited amount of time exacerbates partisanship and hurts our chances of making real reforms in Illinois. Our constituents have to come first and decades of rule from one or two people is not doing whats best for the voters of the 23rd Senate District.  In conjunction, with nonpartisan redistricting reform like the Independent Map Amendment, I think this would be a huge step forward for our state. 


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

Playing the blame game has increased turmoil between the parties and caused an uptick in partisanship. Proper funding for roads, education, and our families were not properly provided for and the only way to fix this is to work together and end the finger pointing and hostage-taking of. We should also turn our attention to reforms that help decrease spending, increase revenue, and end the partisan gridlock. My bipartisan government consolidation bill for example, was recently signed into law and dissolves wasteful units of government and puts money back in the pockets of taxpayers. 

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 Thomas E. Cullerton:

I strongly disagree with the Governor. Funding education is not a burden, but an asset. Every dollar we put into publlic education is an investment in our state's future. Students from all over the country and the world want to come and enjoy the world calss institutions that Illinois has to offer. This is why I've worked to make college more afforable for our young people so they're not saddled with years of debt post-graduation. I've fought to fund MAP grants, broaden the range in which AP test scores can count as college credit, and cut down on waste, fraud, and abuse at the administrative level to end golden parachutes. 

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

Ultimately, Illinois will best fulfill its constitutional obligation to fund our schools by increasing and stabilizing education funding across the board. Every year I have voted to increase school funding, and its important we no longer have proration. I do not support changing the current school funding formula in a way that is unfair our suburban schools. If we change the formula it should only be based on new revenue coming in.

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 Thomas E. Cullerton:

We need to ease the burden on working families by putting more tax money back in their pockets. Ive voted to freeze property taxes and my government consolidation bill will go one step further and work to reduce the property tax burden on Illinois families. With more money in taxpayers pockets, well see a boosted economy and a higher incentive for business to grow in our state

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 Thomas E. Cullerton:

I support this constitutional amendment. I sponsored the legislation in the Senate with HJRCA0036. I also sponsored HB0691 to ensure that transfers from the general revenue fund to the Local Government Distributive Fund must be made within 60 days. This is essential to ensure that we have a mechanism in place to so that money for local transportation and infrastructure cannot be held hostage. Working to fix our pension crisis and cutting waste, fraud, and abuse by consolidating redundant units of government and closing corporate tax loopholes are ways to increase revenue for these projects. 

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 Thomas E. Cullerton:

 I sponsored SB2404 and I think revisiting its concept with all parties is the best solution to fulfill the promise made to those who have worked and payed into the system their whole lives while getting our pension system back on track.

Do you support measures to reduce Illinois’ prison population and divert more money into community-based services?
Answer from Thomas E. Cullerton:

 I think theres more we can do to help nonviolent offenders, from fixing things like mandatory minimum sentences and the lack of rehabilitation programs that eventually contribute to high rates of recidivism. Pursuing reforms on these issues in a safe, sustainable way is critical. Public safety is my main concern and its important that Illinois residents have peace of mind while going about their daily lives

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 Thomas E. Cullerton:

 Its concerning that property can be permanently seized from an individual before being convicted under due process of the law. I do understand that civil asset forfeiture plays a serious role in fighting the drug trade and I would like police feedback as to how we can protect the rights of our citizens while also protecting the safety of our citizens as best we can.

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

      Yes, sex change surgery is not an option for all transgender people. This is a simple step that we can take to make sure some of our must vulnerable residents can avoid distress and potential discrimination. 

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 Thomas E. Cullerton:

1.      Illinois must be a compassionate state. Death with dignity is a newer issue that has come before the legislature. We have made strides in allowing people through bipartisan measures to utilize experimental drugs; but I would need to do far more research before I could have an educated opinion on this


What measures do you support to reduce levels of gun violence?
Answer from Thomas E. Cullerton:

Cracking down on illegal gun violence has been a priority of mine in the Senate. That's why I sponsored legislation (HB6303) in the Senate that amends the Illinois Criminal Code to create the offense of firearm trafficking. This bill protects legal owners of firearms while penalizing those who, without a valid FOID card, traffic guns and ammunition from other states into Illinois. Over 60% of guns used in Illinois come from out of state. I applaud the governor for signing this into law. 

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 Thomas E. Cullerton:

I support raising the miniumum wage and I voted for SB0011 in the Senate in 2015, which raised the minimum wage to $11 over a period of several years. 

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 Thomas E. Cullerton:

 I do not support this. Working families and local business would only be hurt by this additional tax and I dont think this will make any real difference in the sale and consumption of sugary drinks. 

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 Thomas E. Cullerton:

1.      I strongly support increasing our use of renewable energy. I sponsored the Clean Jobs bill (SB1485) in order to bring clean, renewable jobs and energy, such as wind and solar power, to Illinois. This would increase our share in renewable energy by 35% by 2030 and would create tens of thousands of new jobs for our state. This is the right thing to do for our children and for future generations to come. 


Videos (1)

— October 3, 2016 Chicago Sun-Times

Thomas Cullerton tells why he should be the state senator from the 23rd district.

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