Decision 2020: Joan Padilla, candidate, Illinois House of Representatives District 71
(KWQC) - Note: KWQC reached out to state and federal candidates with a list of questions aimed at helping voters make an informed decision in the 2020 General Election.
The questionnaires will be posted to our special election website, www.kwqc.com/decision2020.
KWQC does not endorse any candidates.
Name: Joan Padilla
City: Sterling, Illinois
Education: AAS- Dental Hygiene; Sothern Illinois University-Carbondale; BLAS/Minor in Sociology; Western Ill. University -QC; Certificate Non-Profit management; Rockford University
Occupation: Executive director- Home of Hope Cancer Wellness Center
Experience: Sauk Valley Community College Board Trustee- 2005-2011
What is the most important issue facing the state of Illinois, and how would you address it if elected?
Illinois Tax structure. The flat tax has constrained the state of Illinois putting a heavier burden on homeowners and municipalities needing to cover the shortfall.[increased property taxes] Core services and programs like public safety [police officers, emergency responders, firefighters], funding education, and social services for our children and seniors take up most of the budgeted revenue. Along with not meeting the pension obligations, irresponsible actions like not passing a budget for two years have brought the state to the brink of collapse. We are losing population which then shrinks the tax base. A first step, not the only step, is to move to a graduated income tax. The extra revenue should then go to the backlog of bills and toward the pension debt. Consistently paying down the principal will reduce interest payments and stabilize the program for future enrollees. This is not a quick fix and should go in conjunction with the evaluation of outdated programs or services, combining departments, removing duplication to save money, as well as looking to other forms of revenue.
How do you rate the nation/state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic so far? What would you do differently, and why?
Considering Illinois was the only state to reach all the required benchmarks from the CDC, I rate Governor Pritzker very good! We are in uncharted waters. The important consideration is that there was no cohesive message or direction from the President and his administration. The States were left to handle COVID on their own. Instead of a unified United States working together, we saw States going in every direction, sometimes working against each other in policy and guidelines. This created chaos and more than likely more deaths. Governor Pritzker from the beginning pulled a team together of credentialed professionals in the healthcare fields. Together they implemented a plan that was based on science and what would protect the citizens of Illinois. He established communication and partnerships that brought PPE to our healthcare front line workers, life-saving ventilators, and more. Was it perfect? Was it smooth sailing? No, there were bumps and snags along the way. I would like to have more testing in our area, a thorough contact tracing program, and a mandated mask program. To get this virus under control we need to have the knowledge of where there are hot spots. This is a serious health crisis, and like any war, we as Americans, Illinoisans need to put all our efforts into fighting and protecting each other. This is not easy, and Illinoisans across the state are being asked to work together and, many have suffered hardships. As for bringing in the legislature for input, “too many cooks spoil the broth.”
What will you do or advocate to help those who are out of work and those in need of housing?
The middle class is shrinking. The divide between rich and poor is the greatest it’s been. This is not only a concern but really presents challenges when it comes to our communities and our State regarding security and opportunities. The 71st has a history in manufacturing. We have moved from the manufacturing industry to a service one. Typically, these are lower-paying positions that burden the worker with a lack of financial resources that will provide for the very basics, food, shelter, and healthcare. We must do better. I will focus on bringing good-paying jobs to the area by bringing together private and public partnerships, working with the Small Business development centers to encourage businesses to come. I will also concentrate my efforts on expanding affordable housing in the area that is dignified, working with landlord associations and municipal leaders to refurbish properties. This can be achieved by grants and low or no-interest loans.
Recent Pew Research data shows 49% of voters expect to have difficulty casting a ballot for the November election. What is your reaction to this belief, and what needs to be done?
I trust our county clerks in the 71st district and all over the state, are working diligently to provide fair and safe access to voting this election cycle. The provision to vote by mail to any registered voter that wants to is a first step to ensuring those of an alternative during this pandemic. Health and safety first. County clerks are also responding to worries of delivery of ballots by having secure drop boxes placed. Signed, completed ballots then can be hand-delivered and dropped off prior to election day. There also is an early voting option and of course, for those that want to vote on election day can do so. I would suggest the person check prior to seeing if their polling location has changed because of the pandemic and availability of election judges. The important thing is to exercise your right to vote, let your voice be heard.
There has been a renewed discussion, both locally, statewide, and nationally, about policing reform since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Do you think reforms are needed and, if so, what might those changes look like?
We are one community. When one suffers, we all suffer. When one of us is met with injustice or been the victim of racism we are weaker. I believe systemic racism does in fact limit equal opportunity. The time is here to make the change necessary to improve the quality of life for all of us but especially our members of color. Our communities need to stand up and acknowledge systemic racism is present in order to abolish it. Ridding systemic racism and injustice starts by reversing those policies and laws that perpetuate oppression and fuel discrimination in all sectors of life, from public safety, education, hiring practices, housing, and healthcare. Police brutality and racism are at the forefront of conversations and a good place to start in making a real difference. There is more than one avenue to take, but we as decent human beings must be willing to bring the discussion to the table, working together. Regarding racism and law enforcement, we need to look at the root causes within departments. Are better recruiting and education policies necessary? Are licensing and continuing education with a focus on social sciences the answer? What is apparent is that we need to be better.
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