Candidate Full Name: Christian L. Mitchell
Office: State Representative (IL-26)
Email Address: Christian.Mitchell26th@gmail.com
Web Site: www.FriendsOfChristianMitchell.com
Campaign Name: Friends of Christian Mitchell
Mailing Address: PO Box 805167 Chicago, IL 60680
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.
I am the current State Representative for the 26th District, and I'm running for a third term. I was raised by a single mom and my grandfather who was a union steelworker. I spent much of my childhood helping take care of my ailing grandparents and supporting my mother who had to battle breast cancer when I was just 14 years old. Witnessing my family's hard work and commitment to community - even in the face of their own struggles - inspired me to enter public service.
I attended the University of Chicago and study public policy studies. From there, I became a community organizer with Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation where I worked with single moms like my own to fight for education funding reform, affordable housing and good paying jobs in low-income communities. I later worked for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle as the Director of External Affairs where I played an important role in finding efficiencies in government, implementing zero-based budgeting and reducing the county sales tax.
In 2011, I won my first race for State Representative of the 26th District and was sworn in as the youngest current member of the Illinois General Assembly. Since taking office, I have been part of many important legislative victories - including expanding Medicaid to 500,000 new Illinoisans, passing marriage equality, establishing universal background checks for private handgun sales, and implementing unprecedented police reforms.
I'm proud of my record of moving beyond just heated rhetoric, and producing real results for the people in the communities that I serve. If reelected, I will continue to lead the fights for education funding reform to ensure all of our students have access to the resources they need to succeed, a progressive income tax that provides relief to working families while ensuring we have the revenue to fund critical services, and creating a fairer criminal justice system.
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?
I do not favor term limits. The research on term limits has been mixed at best, with some results pointing to situations where elected officials have less knowledge of parliamentary procedure and the legislative process than lobbyists and staff. I have yet to see a study that shows states with term limits are able to break through partisan gridlock and advance a higher quantity of quality policy initiatives. I am always open to accountability and transparency measures, but would need to see data that backs up the success of these measures first.
3. What solution would you propose to get a budget passed in the State of Illinois?
Governor Rauner needs to stop campaigning, and start doing the job he was elected to do - govern. For the past eight months he has held our most vulnerable citizens hostage to his far right-wing political agenda, despite not a shred of evidence the policy actually works. We are seeing the effects of this as social service agencies are closing their doors, as child care providers have been forced to reduce their staff, as parents had to make the decision between going to work or staying home with their child, as students have had to reconsider going to college because their MAP grants have been suspended, and as our senior citizens have had to go without their in-home care. Everyone is affected by this budget impasse - and my hope is that all of us will stand up and show this governor that what he's doing is destroying the basic social safety net and critical investments that make our state run. I have organized phone banks, letter writing campaigns and rallies to do just that. I will continue to be a voice for my constituents and bring them together as we fight against the governor's harmful political agenda.
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?
Yes, I do support changing Illinois law to allow Chicago voters the ability to choose their own school board members. I think it's important that Chicago voters have access to the same accountability measures that every other school district in Illinois affords to their constituencies. I would caution against viewing an elected school board as a panacea to our education woes. Illinois has been underfunding CPS for decades, and is currently funding our schools at fiscal year 2008 levels. We need to pass education funding reform to ensure that more of our state education dollars are going first to the students who need them the most - students living in areas of concentrated poverty, students with special needs, and English language learners. I will continue to fight for equity in our education funding formula, while also pushing for greater accountability for our school board.
5. 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?
I have always run my campaigns based on the facts. I will continue to do that.