Running for: State Representative of District 78
Political party affiliation: Libertarian
Political/civic background: Campaign Consultant/Volunteer
Occupation: Insurance Consultant
Education: BA JARVIS CHRISTIAN COLLEGE
Campaign website: https://www.votejoshflynn.com
The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent nominees for the Illinois House of Representatives a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the state of Illinois and their districts. Joshua Flynn submitted the following responses:
1. The COVID-19 pandemic has hammered the finances of Illinois. The state is staring at a $6.2 billion budget shortfall in this fiscal year. What should be done? Please be specific.
I am completely against raising taxes as it will give us less revenue in the long run as we lose citizens and business. Illinois must make-up the shortfall with a combination of federal government support and reduction in state spending. I believe we must press the federal government to make up 80% of the shortfall in our state and other states and Illinois must reduce our spending by 20% of the shortfall ($1.24 billion).
2. What grade — “A” to “F” — would you give Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic? Please explain. What, if anything, should he have done differently?
I would give Governor Pritzker an A. I believe he acted quickly and decisively to close Illinois and the results speak for his good work. He has opened the state prudently and deliberately.
3. In the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, legislatures in some states have taken up the issue of police reform. Should Illinois do the same? If so, what would that look like?
Yes. Reform would look like this:
1. Improved pay and working conditions for police to keep its best people and attract more strong people to the force.
2. Enhanced training for all officers on the proper use of force, de-escalation techniques, and racial sensitivity.
3. Consistent community and police engagement so that police officers know the community and the community knows its officers.
4. Body cameras required for officers who interact with the public in the community or streets to protect officers and the community.
5. Police, court, and prison resources focused more on violent and property crimes and less on personal choice crimes like drug use and prostitution. The death of Breonna Taylor would have been avoided with a reduced focus on drug use crimes.
4. Should the Legislature pass a law requiring all law enforcement officers to wear body cameras? Why or why not?
Yes. the legislature should pass a law requiring all officers who interact with citizens to wear body cameras to protect themselves and protect citizens.
5. Federal prosecutors have revealed a comprehensive scheme of bribery, ghost jobs and favoritism in subcontracting by ComEd to influence the actions of House Speaker Michael Madigan. Who’s to blame? What ethics reforms should follow? Should Madigan resign?
The Illinois legislature has a history of corruption and while there is plenty of blame to go around, the leadership of the parties deserve the most blame. There should be comprehensive reforms that limit contributions to candidates, limit the power of the legislature to give out favors, institute term limits for members and leadership. This is a main reason that I am running as a Libertarian, to provide leadership for reform as I am a future legislator not tied to either major party. Yes, Madigan should resign.
6. Please tell us about your civic work in the last two years, whether it’s legislation you have sponsored or work you have done in other ways to improve your community.
I work with several organizations in the Austin community. I am a board member and community organizer for the Northwest Austin Council and have been active with the council for many years. I am a facilitator and recruiter at Get to Work Illinois (GTW), a mentor with BUILD, a youth development, violence-prevention organization, an ambassador for Black Workers Matter (BWM). And a volunteer with Mothers on a Mission, volunteer, families with trauma.
7. Please list three concerns that are specific to your district, such as a project that should be undertaken or a state policy related to an important local issue that should be revised.
My district includes the Austin neighborhood in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Three main concerns:
1. Small business viability. Small businesses in Austin and all over my district need the state to lower taxes and reduce red tape to be able to thrive and offer well-paying jobs to people in our communities.
2. Safety in the community. An employed community is a safe community. In addition to job creation which keeps communities safer, my district needs well-trained police officers protecting lives and property.
3. Education. In the Austin community we need more high-quality parent choice for families and I support increasing those choices through support of charter public school options and private school scholarships.
8. What are your other top legislative priorities?
My main other legislative priorities are political reforms. Illinois cannot move forward with comprehensive political reform that including lobbying reform, rules changes, and reduction in state spending.
9. What is your position on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed graduated income tax? Please explain.
Illinois has a fiscal crisis that will not be solved by higher taxes. Higher taxes drive business and people out of Illinois and they take their tax dollars with them. I am for reducing the tax burden on low and middle income citizens by reducing the progressive sales tax.
10. Illinois continues to struggle financially, with a backlog of unpaid bills. In addition to a progressive state income tax — or in lieu of such a tax — what should the state do to pay its bills, meet its pension obligations and fund core services such as higher education?
The state must not raise taxes as businesses and people will continue to leave, further reducing our tax base. Instead, we must cut unnecessary spending.
11. Should Illinois consider taxing the retirement incomes of its very wealthiest residents, as most states do? And your argument is?
No. Illinois already drives out many of its wealthiest citizens, losing all tax revenue from them.
12. What can Illinois do to improve its elementary and high schools?
Illinois can improve its elementary and high schools by attracting the best talent to the schools. That means making the principal job more attractive by improving pay and working conditions. Good principals attract great teachers and great teachers are the key to student achievement. Illinois can also improve elementary and high schools by expanding parent choice. Parents’ involvement is essential to student success and giving parents more choices allows them to find a best fit for their children and invests them more. My own children have attended district public schools, charter public schools, and private schools and my children and family were well-served by having those choices. I want to extend parent choice to all families, especially low-income families.
13. Mass shootings and gun violence plague America. What can or should the Legislature do, if anything, to address this problem in Illinois?
The biggest reason for mass shootings and gun violence in America is the lack of economic opportunity for many Americans, especially males who carry out the vast, vast majority of mass shootings and gun violence. The legislature in Illinois can address this issue best by improving the state economy with lower taxes and incentives for small business and entrepreneurs to flourish. Instead of incentives to join gangs, young men in Illinois need the incentives and training to have well-paying jobs. This is our best path to reducing mass-shootings and gun violence in Illinois.
14. Do you favor or oppose term limits for any elected official in Illinois? Please explain.
I favor term limits for all state elected officials of 8 years. This is enough time to learn the ropes, but not too much time to become entrenched in lobbying and corruption. Legislators in office too long also lose touch with the daily struggles of average Illinoisans.
15. Everybody says gerrymandering is bad, but the party in power in every state — Democrats in Illinois — resist doing anything about it. Or do we have that wrong? What should be done?
Without a doubt, an independent, non-partisan commission should draw the state legislative districts to reduce the corrosive power of the party in power. I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican and would be in a great position to lead this work in the state house.
16. The U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago is investigating possible official corruption by state and local officials. This prompted the Legislature to pass an ethics reform measure to amend the Lobbyist Registration Act (SB 1639). It was signed into law in December. What’s your take on this and what more should be done?
I support SB 1639 fully and would go further. The legislature should have less power to give special favors, consideration, to individuals, companies, or non-profits.
17. When people use the internet and wireless devices, companies collect data about us. Oftentimes, the information is sold to other companies, which can use it to track our movements or invade our privacy in other ways. When companies share this data, we also face a greater risk of identity theft. What should the Legislature do, if anything?
The legislature should enact a privacy like California has that protects consumers with the right to know what information any company has collected about them and can demand that a company delete their personal data.
18. The number of Illinois public high school graduates who enroll in out-of-state universities continues to climb. What can Illinois do to make its state universities more attractive to Illinois high school students?
Illinois can improve the attractiveness its state universities by:
1. Prioritizing recruitment of top-faculty and assistants who are skilled in instruction and can undergraduates with an engaging experience in the classroom.
2. Provide best-in-class career and job placement and tailor majors to post-secondary placement into good jobs, careers, and graduate programs.
3. Provide reasonable tuition and housing costs and a top financial office that can maximize resources for students to make state universities the most affordable option.
4. Working with community colleges better to align curriculums and courses of study to make transfer more streamlined and affordable.
19. What is your top legislative priority with respect to the environment?
My legislative priority with respect to the environment is to get HB 3624, the Clean Energy Jobs Act out of the rules committee and up for vote. It will reduce emissions, promote renewable energy sources, improve energy efficiency, and reduce carbon pollution related to transportation.
20. What historical figure from Illinois, other than Abraham Lincoln (because everybody’s big on Abe), do you most admire or draw inspiration from? Please explain.
Harold Washington. He brought together a broad coalition that significantly displaced the Chicago machine. I believe that my election can open a window for a broad coalition to dismantle and replace the Illinois state machine of corruption.
21. What’s your favorite TV, streaming or web-based show of all time. Why?
House of Cards – I am entertained by the characters and political aspects of the show.