General Election 2016: Valerie Burd, Candidate for the 50th State Rep. District
Oct 25, 2016 10:33PM ● Published by Steven Jack
Name: Valerie Burd
Employment: Owner, Positive Media Solutions, Inc., a marketing company. We do chamber guides, newsletters, photography, advertising
Family: Husband, Paul. Five grown children: Paul Vondrak, Andrew Vondrak, Samantha Benesh, Emily Thomas and Alex Burd.
Education: Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism, minor Political Science, from Northern Illinois University.
Previously elected office: Alderman, Yorkville Ward 2 1998-2007; Mayor, Yorkville, 2007-2011.
Relevant community service: On the Environmental Advisory Committee for the Kendall County Health Dept.; on the board of the American Association of University Women, Aurora branch; served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for two years; served as an Illinois Public Guardian for two years; served on Metro West Council of Government for four years, one year as president; Ambassador for the Yorkville Area Chamber of Commerce.
What makes you qualified to serve the people of the 50th District?
I will bring the knowledge I’ve obtained through 25 years as a newspaper reporter and then editor, covering municipal, state and federal elected officials and government, and the experience and knowledge gained during 13 years as an alderman and then mayor. I’ve studied the US Constitution and Illinois State Statutes and I understand the needs of municipal governments and local schools. As mayor during the Great Recession, I learned how to cut budgets and live within the means of income. I’ve worked with local Chambers of Commerce and understand the needs of our businesses. I will work to protect our rights as citizens from government infringements, but also work to use government to better the lives of our residents and promote our businesses. I
What are your plans to reach across the aisle in the House to help accomplish things for the people of the 50th District?
Although I am running as a Democrat, I have in the past worked to get Republicans in my area elected. I am more interested in the person than in their Party affiliation. People who have open minds and want to learn from each other can work together to come up with solutions that give something to everyone at the table. Compromise is not a dirty work. As mayor, and as an alderman, I saw agreements worked out that resulted in a better law than that originally suggested by one group. Different viewpoints often reveal ideas that had not been thought of before. I will Respect differing viewpoints because I understand that the members of the General Assembly have all been elected by Illinois constituents who all have a right to be heard and represented.
What are the 3 biggest problems facing the people of the 50th District, and what do you propose to help fix these problems?
The biggest problem, of course, is getting an Illinois budget passed so that our schools, including colleges and universities, support organizations like Mutual Ground, etc., can once again have a more stable funding environment. Our bond rating has been lowered and we are paying higher interest rates because of this impasse in Springfield while vendors, care organizations and schools suffer. Tied to that is the need to find other revenues to fund the state programs while cutting any unnecessary expenditures. My goal would be to find ways to lower local real estate taxes, which has to be a top priority for Illinois, while working to pass an amendment to the Constitution to create a progressive income tax. Real estate tax is an inequitable way to fund schools because it has no relationship to income; people on fixed incomes, including senior citizens, are hit hard and often must sell their homes and move. In fact, as I walked around the district, many residents told me they either already are planning to move out of state or they want to go where real estate taxes are much lower. Illinois now is the worst state in the nation when it comes to levying real estate taxes to fund our government. This needs to be fixed asap. One way to do this, after increasing income taxes back to at least 5%, would be to give residents age 65 or older who make $100,000 or less an abatement of that part of their real estate taxes that goes to education.
Where do you stand on how the state of Illinois should provide education funding for local school districts?
According to the state Constitution, the state is supposed to provide the majority portion of funding for public education in the state. The state needs to accept that burden. Currently there is a large group of representatives from the General Assembly meeting with school officials to try to work out a fairer method of apportioning funding. State Sen. Sue Rezin is one of these representatives. She says nothing has been done in more than 30 years to address inequities and she would like to see more of the funding for poverty-high districts throughout the state instead of so much going to the City of Chicago schools. Talking to the superintendent of Oswego District 308 also has made me aware of the need to look at school districts with rapid growth but no industrial or extensive commercial real estate tax base to help fund them. We must discover ways, as I mentioned above, to provide more state funding of our schools and cut back on the reliance on property taxes.
Do you support term limits?
At present, no, because I saw how unprepared many people were when they were first elected to office and how long it took them to learn the law and what they needed to do to effectively represent their constituents. I believe that the electorate can determine the number of terms through its vote. But I have an open mind on this issue and have recently listened to some of my constituents who want term limits and they make a good case for them. I would not be opposed to installing term limits if that is what the majority of 50th District residents want done.
Should members of Illinois’ Legislature be paid while there is no state budget? Why or Why not.
My first inclination is to say they shouldn’t be paid because they are not doing their jobs. But then if they rely on that money to make it possible to go to Springfield, we would be undermining the number of representatives who could attend sessions. I think I would be in favor of partial funding to get them in session, but then, if a budget is not passed by a specified date, their salaries would be cut. That might put pressure on them to get the job done. But how does this put pressure on the millionaire governor or wealthy members of the General Assembly? We might be setting up a situation where only the wealthy would be running the government because they would be the only ones who could finance themselves; the rest would have to miss sessions to work at other jobs.