Name: Rachelle Aud Crowe
Office seeking: State Senator - 56th District
City of residence: Glen Carbon
Campaign website: www.rachelleforsenate.com
Why are you running and why should people vote for you? Our state is facing a crisis that cannot be ignored. Career politicians have forced our state to a point where we are all feeling the impact of the decisions being made in Springfield. Nearly everyone I come in contact with is concerned about the future of our state and our children. It’s time for a fresh voice with new perspectives in Springfield. As a lifelong resident of Madison County and an experienced prosecutor, I have the knowledge and determination to be a strong, independent voice for our area in Springfield. In the Violent Crimes Unit at the Madison County State’s Attorney’s office, I have prosecuted the most dangerous criminals in our area – including murderers, child predators and opioid dealers - and I have never backed down. In Springfield, I’ll stand up to the career politicians that have created these problems. If there is another budget impasse, I won’t take a paycheck and believe that other lawmakers shouldn’t either. I’ll work to pass a law that prevents them from getting paid until there is a balanced budget. Our reliance on property taxes to fund schools has led to the highest property taxes and most inequitable school funding in the nation. The new school funding formula was a start, but there is still much work to be done. I’ll fight to ensure our schools receive the funds they were promised instead of being sent to wealthy Chicago-area school districts. I believe every student in our district deserves to have the same opportunities. Growing up, my family worked at Olin, Laclede Steel and the Wood River Refinery. I was raised in a family that valued hard work that helped provide me with first-in-a-generation opportunities. But, with a changing economy, we need new investments in job training programs to ensure a high-qualified workforce that will bring back good-paying jobs to our area. In Springfield, I’ll fight for funding for job training programs to ensure that everyone who is willing to work is able to find a good-paying job.
Who will you support for President of the Senate and why? We are facing a time of unprecedented, divisive partisanship in our state. Because of the failure of the legislative leaders in both parties and the governor, our state went without a budget for over two years. Schools districts were almost delayed in starting the school year, universities – including SIUE – were forced to make drastic cuts to programs and staff, programs like Meals on Wheels that seniors depend on were cut, breast and cervical cancer screenings were eliminated and local governments had to make steep cuts. Senate President John Cullerton worked toward a bipartisan solution that would have brought an end to the budget stalemate. While I didn’t agree with the entire package, I do believe that we need leaders that are willing to compromise to solve the significant problems our state is facing. He has a history of working across the aisle to find solutions, and listens to senators when they have concerns about their districts. To my knowledge, there is no one running for Senate President that shares all of my values. Because of President Cullerton’s commitment to finding bipartisan solutions, it is my intention to support him for Senate President.
What is your position on organized labor and the Janus decision striking down the requirement for public sector workers to pay fair share fees even if they don’t want to? Organized labor built our country’s middle class. My parents and many members of my family were labor union members. The union ensured them fair wages and safe working conditions. I strongly support labor. Together, labor unions are able to collectively bargain for better wages and benefits for police, firefighters, teachers and other public servants. They help us when we our lives are in danger, protect us from criminals and educate future generations. The Janus decision negatively impacts these public servants’ ability to earn a living wage. I strongly oppose the decision.
What is your stance on expanding gambling in Illinois? Gaming revenues are an integral part of Illinois’ budget. These funds help support our schools while also providing additional resources to lower-income communities with little economic development or business growth. While I am not opposed to the concept of expanding gambling in Illinois, any proposal must be crafted to not over saturate our region with too many gaming machines and ensure that any additional revenues are used either for our local schools or towards investments in our infrastructure network.
Illinois roads are in disrepair. How would you approach this problem? How would you pay for it? The metro-east is fortunate to be a hub of many forms of transportation. With four interstate highways, an extensive rail network and the growing port district in Granite City, our region has all of the ingredients for much-needed economic growth and development. When our infrastructure networks are neglected, however, we risk falling behind other metropolitan areas as well as risk the safety of the traveling public. Any capital construction plan must not rely on income tax increases that disproportionately affect the middle-class. If a gaming expansion compromise can be reached, I would fully support dedicating these funds for our roads and bridges.
What else should be done to address the ongoing opioid epidemic? As a prosecutor in the Madison County Drug Court, I have seen first-hand the tragic effects of our region’s opioid epidemic. I have visited crime scenes of overdoses that have resulted in deaths and talked to families of drug addicts that have been torn apart by opioid abuse. As a society we must do more to stop this deadly epidemic that is sweeping across our state. Anyone dealing with substance abuse must have access to the medical resources needed to break their addiction. It is impossible to fully heal and begin living a life free from drug addiction if there isn’t basic access to rehab services. Expanding community treatment options and increasing access to local services must be our top priority. From a criminal justice standpoint, we have failed to rehabilitate substance abuse users and at the same time, ballooned our jail population. Through my work in the Madison County Drug Court, I know that rehabilitation is more effective than lengthy jail sentences and saves taxpayers money. We must also combat this issue by tackling the source of the epidemic. For too long, pharmaceutical companies have inundated doctor’s offices with opioids that are highly addictive. Working with our medical professionals, we must work to reduce needless opioid prescriptions and increase unused prescription disposal locations to reduce the risk of teens and other family members potentially abusing a highly dangerous drug. Finally, we must address the lack of quality job opportunities that plague too many metro-east neighborhoods. Deindustrialization and job losses have led to hopelessness among far too many. If elected, I vow to increase job-training programs for workers who have lost their job and expand vocational training in our local high schools to give those graduating a skill that can financially sustain themselves and their families.
What should Illinois’ income tax system look like? What rates would you want to see? How would those rates effect the state’s revenues? I support instituting a fair-tax structure similar to many of our neighboring states, including Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin and Kentucky. In that system, lower-income families pay a smaller percentage in income taxes while wealthier families pay a larger percentage in income taxes. I will not, however, support any increase in the tax burden for middle-class families. Any change to our tax policy must protect middle wage earners who are already shouldering too much of the overall tax burden of our state.
Would you term limit yourself? If so, how many terms? Regardless of party, I fully support ten-year term limits for legislative leaders, like the Senate President, Speaker of the House and Minority Leaders in both chambers. These positions are not elected by the public so they cannot be removed from their positions in an election. If I am elected, I will only serve as long as I can be an effective advocate for our communities.