Candidate Profile: Jerry Costello II

Name: Jerry Costello II

Office seeking: State Representative – 116th District

Party: Democratic

Age: 49

City of residence: Smithton

Campaign website: CostelloForStateRep.com

Why are you running and why should people vote for you? From an early age, I was taught the value of public service, patriotism and hard work. It’s why I decided to join the Army, and why I became a police officer when I returned home from Iraq. The lessons I learned from my experiences as a combat veteran and patrol officer shape the decisions I make in Springfield. I have an independent voting record that reflects the values of the people of Southern Illinois, including voting to bring more dollars and resources to our schools, opposing tax hikes that will drive people out of our state, and supporting the Second Amendment and rights of lawful gun owners. I have repeatedly voted to not only freeze property taxes, but to actually reduce them by increasing exemptions for homeowners. I voted no on last year’s income tax increase, and am opposing a proposed “Vehicle Mileage Tax” because I believe that residents are overtaxed and Illinois needs to live within its means. Additionally, I have consistently introduced and supported measures that assist our agriculture and coal industry. I’m proud of my pro-business record, which is why I am supported by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and other groups that are focused on creating jobs in Southern Illinois.

Who will you support for Speaker of the House and why? My vote for Speaker will be dependent on the candidates for the position following the election. I plan to vote for the individual I determine puts me in a position to best represent my district by providing tax relief for the middle-class, creating jobs, and prioritizing the rights of workers in this state.

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? My district is home to thousands of hardworking state employees who deserve fair pay and working conditions. I am proud of my pro-labor record, and was honored to be the chief House sponsor of this year’s “back pay” legislation for state employees who were previously not paid for work they did years ago.

What is your stance on expanding gambling in Illinois? I am open to reviewing proposals, but would have to see how a specific proposal would impact our local region before making any commitments.

Illinois roads are in disrepair. How would you approach this problem? How would you pay for it? The recent budget impasse and inability for both sides to work together has only made our infrastructure problems worse. We need to work in a bipartisan manner to prioritize infrastructure improvement, but we cannot tie it to any new mileage taxes or fees on drivers. We have to focus on cutting government waste.

What else should be done to address the ongoing opioid epidemic? We have to fund mental health treatment and make sure that law enforcement has the tools they need to deal with drug traffickers. This is not an issue that can be fixed in one day, but we need to address over-prescription and the causes of addiction that has led to the destruction of too many lives and too many families. I plan to continue to work with medical professionals, law enforcement and educators to focus on ways we can invest in treatment, awareness and other solutions that can reduce abuse.

What should Illinois’ income tax system look like? What rates would you want to see? How would those rates affect the state’s revenues? Residents in Illinois are already overtaxed, which is why I believe we need to look at lowering rates across the board. I opposed the recent income tax hike, and am against a progressive income tax that could again raise rates on middle-class families. Additionally, I am opposed to schemes to find new ways to tax residents, such as a soda tax or vehicle mileage tax. I am supportive of efforts to lower property taxes, including an increase for money-saving exemptions for homeowners.

Would you term limit yourself? If so, how many terms? The best term limits are elections, and residents should have the ability to keep or remove their representative as they wish.