Candidate Full Name: Jillian Rose Bernas
Office: Representative in the General Assembly,
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web Site: www.votejillian.com
Campaign Name: Jillian Rose Bernas
Mailing Address: 212 East Beech Drive, Schaumburg, IL 60193
Survey Questions (Character limit of 2,000 per response)
1. Please tell us about yourself, your background and why you believe you are qualified to hold this office.
Over three years ago now, I moved back to my hometown of Schaumburg. I had been away teaching and working at the US Embassy in Chile. I quickly realized this was not the place I left behind.
Classmates, friends, and family members I had grown up with and loved had left the state for better opportunities. My friends and neighbors had been fleeing Schaumburg and the state because of the bad policy choices made over the years in Springfield.
I moved back home to be close to my family and raise my family here and have no intentions of leaving without first fighting for the reforms that our state so urgently needs. I have spent the past three years trying to improve these poor policy choices and serving individuals in need.
I currently work as the International Relations Manager at a large medical association where I partner with doctors across the world to bring best practices and highest quality of care to those who most need it. I also serve on the Schaumburg Township District Library Board as a Trustee and as an associate member of the Schaumburg Township Mental Health Committee which brings me into close contact with my neighbors and the issues facing our community. Additionally, I continue to teach pro bono as an ESL instructor at the Church of the Holy Spirit and help my students become more and more a part of our community.
I developed a love for learning in District 54 and District 211 which prepared me to study education at Saint Mary's College and the University of Notre Dame and become a teacher. Wanting to serve my students better, I studied Public Policy at the University of Chicago and have been working in different policy areas ever since.
I look forward to bringing this experience in the community and knowledge of policy to my work as a State Representative serving the community I love and call home.
2. Governor Bruce Rauner and other politicians are pushing for term limits for Illinois legislators. Do you favor term limits? Why or why not? If yes, what type of term limits do you favor?
Some people might say that elections are term limits and people can vote for the candidate they want to represent them every certain amount of years. However, the State of Illinois suffers from the symptoms of a power structure where politicians make decisions that favor special interest groups and special interest groups repay the favors through large donations to their reelection campaigns.
In a system like this, it is very challenging for good people wanting to serve their community to stand up to the status quo and the money it brings to elections. Therefore, I support term limits because it can breathe fresh air into a stagnant political class that works to maintain the status quo at all costs and as a consequence overlooks the well-being of the families of our state.
Elected officials should lead their communities through service not benefit from the hard working families of our state and make a career out of public service. Term limits would give the opportunity for really great people in our state to serve their neighbors.
3. What solution would you propose to get a budget passed in the State of Illinois?
First of all, our state right now is in a very precarious position given its massive state debt and crushing pension debt. This means our state is in a weak position to provide the programs and services needed by our most vulnerable neighbors. As any individual, family or business that has taken on debt can attest, the burden of paying down debt leaves less flexibility when designating resources to other important areas.
When individuals, families and businesses need to pay down their debt they look for efficiencies, cost savings measures and make the hard decisions to give up certain expenditures. They also may seek out opportunities to increase their revenue by acquiring more advanced skills or taking on extra hours. State lawmakers can do both these things as well to balance the budget, however, House Democrats led by Speaker Madigan and including my opponent cite the need for additional revenue through taxes without considering any reforms that the Governor is recommending to run the state more efficiently.
In 2011, the House and Senate Democrats levied the highest tax increase in state history with the promise to pay our backlog of bills. This vote took $31 billion in additional revenue from taxpayers. In this same time, our pension liabilities grew and $127 million was added to our debt. Democrat leadership and my opponent have not earned the right to again request more money from hardworking individuals, families, and businesses.
We cannot continue to pass along the cost of poor policy decisions to the families and business like what was done in 2011 and expect better outcomes. Only by reforming our failing systems can we provide the economic growth that leads to an improved quality of life for families, better opportunities for job seekers and higher tax revenues for government.
One way to get a budget passed in Springfield that takes into account these necessary reforms would be to vote me into office and break Madigan's supermajority and strong hold on the state.
4. Chicago is the only city in Illinois with an appointed school board. Other large American cities, including San Francisco, elect their school board members. Would you favor changing Illinois law to provide Chicago with an elected school board? Why or why not?
The elected office I am seeking is in the Schaumburg area. Therefore, many people might think that I do not or should not have an opinion on this matter. However, in fiscal year 2015 the state contributed $1.8 billon to fund CPS and in fiscal year 2016 they are projected to contribute $2.2 billon. These figures can be found on the CPS website.
Chicago thinks suburban school districts should pay even more. They continue to put forth legislation to strip suburban school district of millions to fund the failing CPS school system as seen in proposed legislation SB 16 in the 98th General Assembly and SB 1 in the 99th General Assembly. In April 2014, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's pension overhaul passed in the General Assembly requiring the state to pick up part of the city's pension tab. My opponent voted for this bill which is SB 1922. Therefore, it very much is an issue concerning the families of my district and the way that their tax dollars are spent on a failing system centered on big government and bureaucracy instead of educating the children of Chicago.
I would prefer an elected school board to an appointed school board, although I am not certain that this would make a difference considering elected positions are manipulated by special interest groups and the ruling political class of Chicago.
Voters say they are turned off by the negative and misleading TV ads that dominate the air waves. However, campaign and election experts say candidates rely on them because "they work." Will you and your campaign agree to refrain from running negative ads from now until the election?
Many people ask me why such a nice person like me would want to get into politics knowing that they will try to mischaracterize me and feed my neighbors lies about me. I have seen it done in the past to others who have run against my opponent for State Representative.
I respond by saying that there is too much at stake to be worried about what my opponent will do. I am not focused on negative messaging. I am focused on my message of reform so that we can balance our state's budget and provide the programs and service that our neighbors, especially the most vulnerable, so desperately need. I am running so that I can stay in Illinois and raise my family and so that my neighbors can stay as well.