Candidate Full Name:
5th Congressional District
Campaign Office Mailing Address:
2035 W. Irving Park
Chicago, Illinois 60618
Please tell us about yourself, your background and why you believe you are qualified to hold this office.
I believe that this moment demands that we elect leaders to Congress who have shown the willingness and the ability to fight for change and reform—even when faced with opposition from special interests, insiders and powerful politicians who prefer the status quo. For ten years as a member of the Cook County board, I have pushed for reform, transparency and accountability in government-- and an end to politics as usual.
We need members of Congress who will work alongside President Obama to bring the same kind of change to Washington, D.C.
I am very proud that both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times have endorsed my campaign for Congress, and I am especially gratified that both newspapers emphasized my record fighting for reform and change as key factors in their endorsements.
The Sun-Times, in their endorsement of me, said that Quigley "is that rare candidate who promises reform—and delivers." They wrote that I am a "true instrument of change" and "a constant advocate for fiscal responsibility and a watchdog against waste and corruption."
The Sun-Times added that: "Back in November, voters elected Barack Obama as part of a wave of change. Quigley is, in his own way, part of the same wave."
In the Tribune's endorsement of my candidacy, they wrote that I have had "an outstanding record of independent, reform-minded performance in office," and added that I have been a "forceful, persistent critic of Cook County Board President Todd Stroger.
I am eager to continue that same fight for reform and taxpayer advocacy as a member of the U.S. Congress.
Please tell us your general views about the role of government and some of the most important things you would like to accomplish in office?
My view is that government works best when people have full access to all the information about their public institutions. It is this openness and transparency that empowers citizens to play a role in the key debates of the day. I have worked throughout my career to put that ideal into practice. That is why I have authored more than eight highly detailed reports during my tenure on the Cook County board, each showing where taxpayer money is being wasted and how county government can—and should—do a better job of managing those funds.
In addition, as a member of the Cook County board, I authored and passed package of ethics reforms mandating greater transparency in the property tax appeal process. It required the online posting of all appeal decisions, including property owner name, attorney name, property address, and reasoning for the decision. The process in the past had been widely criticized by the media since the decision makers would significantly lower the assessments of those well-off or well-connected individuals (or their attorneys) who donated to their campaign funds. Additionally, I authored and passed amendments to the Inspector General Ordinance granting the County's Inspector General wider authority, greater independence, and increased resources to root out corruption. The ordinance also established a six-year term of office and limited the County Board President's power of appointment by requiring him to select a nominee from three qualified candidates chosen by an outside committee.
This is an important issue at the federal level, as well, and should be a priority for members of Congress. We have all learned an expensive reminder in recent months of what happens when those concepts are absent from federal legislation. The TARP legislation adopted last fall gave hundreds of millions of dollars to a banking industry, and we—the taxpayers—were given no information on where that money went. As a result, months later we are beginning to learn more about money being spent on extravagant redecoration of offices, 7-figure bonuses to bank executives and other forms of waste. In contrast, very little was spent to free up credit for consumers, students or small business owners.
A great thinker, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, once said that "sunlight is the best disinfectant." Likewise, President Obama spoke during the convention in Denver-- where I was proud to be a delegate on his behalf— about the need for transparency and accountability in order to move the U.S. government into the 21st Century. I am eager to work with him in this effort.
The current economic crisis is squeezing the middle class. What should Congress do about it? What specifically would you do if elected to Congress?
One of the most important steps we can take to address the needs of middle-class families is to tackle the health care problems that are impacting so many households in our district. These expenses have an impact not only the health of residents, but also on their economic well-being. Too many families are just one medical emergency away from personal bankruptcy.
Residents of the District are losing their jobs and consequently their health care at an alarming rate and the safety net is not strong enough to protect them. I will work to provide health care for every American that is affordable and portable from job to job that does not interrupt the coverage of Americans happy with their current coverage.
The economic stimulus plan would also provide health care coverage for over 8 million Americans who are about to lose their insurance through job loss or new employment. As a County Commissioner I see the vital and immediate need for this. In our Cook County health system we cannot handle the ever increasing number of uninsured and underinsured patients seeking health care. Lines are long and appointments can take month. The stimulus is projected to infuse $2.9 billion over the next three years into our state's Medicaid program. This funding would allow the County to save our health care system and meet the demand for preventive care services.
Working families in Cook County are also being squeezed by budget and tax policies that continue to put politicians and bureaucrats first. That is why I have fought against Todd Stroger's tax plans, including the record sales tax hike passed last year. I opposed it, and have fought it since. In its endorsement of my candidacy, the Sun-Times wrote that I have been "a constant advocate for fiscal responsibility and a watchdog against waste and corruption." If I am elected to Congress, I will continue to play that same role.
What are some of the main things you would do to help create jobs in Illinois?
Among the many initiatives that we can launch to create more jobs, let me highlight two that I think would be particularly effective.
First, and more immediately, I support greater support for mass transit. In discussing the recently-passed stimulus bill, I urged members of Congress to fully support public transportation. I believe it is crucial to enable people to move to and from their homes to the places where they work—or, where they are hoping to find work. I believed strongly that the stimulus package needed to focus on projects with a long-term life span that will provide value in helping the economy for the next 20-30 years -- most notably, mass transit. We need a safe, affordable, environmentally efficient way for people to travel and from work. Chicago in desperate need of an infusion of federal funds to continue to upgrade our transit system.
Secondly, I want to work with the new administration to develop our new green economy. I applaud the President's efforts to provide safeguards for the environment in the stimulus package and it proves the adage that 'going green saves green'. The plan doubles the amount of energy produced from renewable resources within three years ¨C which has the added benefit of increasing our national security by lessening our dependence on foreign oil. It also builds upon our existing infrastructure by making federal buildings more efficient for a savings of $2 billion dollars annually. Greening our environment will also mean job creation, including in high-paying forward-thinking sectors of the economy.
What do you think can be done to bring short-term stability to gas and energy prices? Also, what do you think is the best strategy - to both affordably and responsibly - provide for the nation's future energy needs?
As stated above, the most significant step that we can take is to move toward the day when America is truly energy independent. That will not only help to address the issue of escalating energy costs, it will help the environment and help enhance our nation's security.
As a member of the Cook County board, I have been proud to help move the county toward greater energy efficiency, in terms of our facilities and assets. I passed legislation requiring the county to purchase fuel-efficient vehicles and to reduce the overall size of the fleet. To reduce our carbon footprint, I also sponsored legislation committing the county to join the Chicago Climate Exchange.
Is there anything that can be done to make health care more accessible and affordable in Illinois? If so, what would you do?
We need an immediate overhaul of our health insurance system that will provide affordable, accessible health care for all Americans. This can be accomplished by building upon -- not tearing down -- our preexisting healthcare system, while utilizing the doctors, providers and plans already in place. Government needs to step in to provide solutions for those who lack full coverage, while not disrupting care for those who are satisfied with their current plan.
For the uninsured, I support President Obama's initiative to provide a range of affordable private insurance options based on the same benefits as members of Congress.
For the insured, I would introduce legislation to amend the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) to require that insurance providers allow for full portability of their insurance and to mandate full coverage of pre-existing conditions.
Health care costs are out of control and the fact that Americans are making health care decisions based on their pocketbooks should spur us to take action. There are steps the government can take to lower the overall cost of health care and help provide options for the uninsured. We need to expand preventive care, modernize medical record keeping, and lower prescription drug prices. In addition, we need to increase transparency and accountability in our health care system and put in place safeguards to prevent fraud.
First, we need to expand preventive care. The emergency room has become the only source of care for many Americans ¨C and it is the most expensive way for us to care for patients. We need to expand our preventive care network so that Americans can see doctors on a regular basis to stop problems before they become too severe, and too costly. Ten percent of our chronic diseases account for 90% of our health care costs. Expanding preventive care will help reduce our health care costs by preventing these diseases before they begin.
Secondly, we can lower health care costs by pursuing new health information technology services, and investing in bold new prevention and care coordination initiatives.
This includes full support for modernizing medical record keeping to lower costs while making the entire health care system more efficient.
Lastly, we need to lower prescription drug prices by negotiating the costs of prescription drugs for seniors utilizing the same approach as the Department of Veterans' Affairs.
Please state your general views about the war in Iraq.
In terms of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, I support the President Obama's approach of immediately withdrawing troops in the safest possible manner as the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend to the President.
We are spending approximately $10 to $12 billion a month in Iraq. The sooner we withdraw our troops, the sooner we can begin to use those resources on important domestic priorities—such as, putting people to work, improving education and creating jobs here in the U.S. We also need to bring home the brave men and women who have been deployed there, so that we benefit from their skills, talent and dedication here at home.
What are your thoughts on how to deal with illegal immigration? Also, what do you think should be done about illegal immigrants who are already here in the U.S.?
I support providing a path toward citizenship for law-- abiding immigrants who have been in this country for many years—while, at the same time, protecting the integrity of America's borders.
I am proud to stand up for the men and women who have come to Chicago from across the globe, and who work everyday to build and improve their adopted country. Our economy and communities are stronger because of their contributions. I believe in providing dignity and opportunity to all families.
Every neighborhood in the 5th Congressional district was established by immigrants, whose children and grandchildren continue to make our community grow. If elected to Congress, I will be a representative who will honor that legacy.
What ideas do you have for improving our education system and for making our colleges and universities more affordable?
With two daughters who are now in college, I know what many families are going through trying to help their kids pursue their college educations. The recession is not just affecting our current workforce, but our future workforce as well. Students are trying to get an education but funds for student loans are drying up. I am especially supportive of President Obama's initiative to provide tax credits for higher education in exchange for community service.
I am pleased that within the recently passed stimulus bill, $15 billion went toward increasing Pell Grant assistance. This is the kind of support that helps ensure that the stimulus bill has a meaningful long-term impact rather than just being used for short-term fixes.
If Congress approves any new taxpayer-funded support for the financial industry, I want to ensure that it be used by banks to help free-up credit that could be used by help students to help secure or refinance their student loans.
I know the importance of education. I earned my degrees from Roosevelt University, my master's degree from the University of Chicago and my law degree from Loyola. Those were the tools that have enabled me to carry out my goals in the area of public service. Today, I serve as an adjunct professor at Loyola University, teaching politics, government and environmental policy. In the classroom, I hope to provide students not only with the knowledge they need to understand these issues—I also work to instill in them my enthusiasm for public service. Working with these students makes me feel confident that we are on the verge of change in America and in our communities.
What are your highest priorities for protecting the environment in Illinois?
For ten years, I have been proud to stand with many of you in the fight to protect our environment. To me, fighting for sustainability, energy efficiency and open spaces are more than campaign promises. They are part of my record. It's this record that led the Chicago Reader to call me "the greenest elected official in Chicago."
When I was first elected to the County Board, I was proud to be the first-ever county candidate to be endorsed by the Sierra Club. Since being elected, I have led the efforts to pass every key piece of environmental reform approved by the Cook County Board in the past decade. My legislative victories have resulted in the restoration of Forest Preserve lands, a new a green purchasing consortium among local governments in the Chicago area and passage of county's Green Buildings Ordinance.
Standing up to some powerful special interests, I passed the county-wide smoking ban. In 2007, I passed the ban on county funds being used to purchase bottled water, leading to similar action by local governments from coast to coast. I passed legislation requiring the county to purchase fuel-efficient vehicles and to reduce the overall size of the fleet. I sponsored legislation committing the county to join the Chicago Climate Exchange to reduce our carbon footprint.
As a member of Congress, I am going to work to pass legislation that will create green jobs, address global warming and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. To get that done, we will need members of Congress who have shown a commitment to these ideals and a willingness to fight for them.
I am proud of the endorsements that I received from both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. I am especially gratified that both endorsements noted my efforts to promote a greener environment. In its endorsement, the Sun-Times wrote that "Quigley has championed the Cook County Forest Preserve District, gotten more money for environmental programs and persuaded county government to buy green." They also called me the "rare candidate who promises change—and delivers." Likewise, the Tribune praised my "outstanding record on human rights, health care and the environment."
Now is the time to act. We can't waste a minute if we are going to preserve the environment and develop a true alternative energy program for America. In Congress, I am going to work for a sustainable future for our families.
Chicago Sun-Times (2/15/09)
Chicago Tribune (2/18/09)