Candidate Profile: Monica Bristow

Name: Monica Bristow

Office seeking: State Representative - 111th District

Party: Democratic

Age: 56

City of residence: Godfrey

Campaign website: BristowForRep.com

Why are you running and why should people vote for you? As leader of the RiverBend Growth Association, an organization dedicated to economic development in our region, I worked with local businesses and our municipal leaders every day to create good-paying jobs in our community and to help grow our economy. I’m using that experience in Springfield to fight for what’s important to our families. As I go door-to-door throughout the district, I hear a lot about not only creating new job opportunities for those seeking work, but also protecting the retirement benefits of those who have worked all their lives to earn them. I oppose plans to create a new tax on retirement savings and also oppose Springfield’s 32 percent tax increase because I know that middle-class families can’t afford to pay more to fund waste, dysfunction and corruption in Springfield. Instead of adding to the tax burden already weighing down working families, I am fighting to stop wasteful spending and close corporate loopholes so that we can invest in our schools, road projects that create jobs locally and opioid addition and overdose prevention.

Who will you support for Speaker of the House and why? The election of speaker is one of hundreds of votes our representative will have to cast over the next two years, and if I am fortunate enough to serve I will be standing up for middle-class families on each and every one of those votes. I stand on my record of working to create new jobs here in the Riverbend region, promoting local small businesses, protecting our rights and values, and standing up for the middle class. My job is to represent the people of the 111th District. That’s my pledge, and when it comes time to make a decision about who to support for speaker, I will weigh the options and vote for the candidate who shares my priorities of growing the economy while also lifting up hard-working men and women.

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? Here in Illinois and across the country, labor unions have successfully fought to provide our families with safer workplaces, fair wages, paid holidays and vacations, health insurance, retirement savings and much more. They continue to protect workplace safety and help working people build good middle-class lives. I believe that the Janus v. AFSCME decision was a major setback for the middle class as a whole.

What is your stance on expanding gambling in Illinois? My first priority when looking at gambling expansions is to protect local jobs and our local industries. Our local casino is already competing with larger casinos in St. Louis and others in the metro-east, and with a finite amount of gambling dollars available. I would want to first discuss the impact on local jobs and revenue with stakeholders in the metro-east and review it thoroughly before making a decision to support specific legislation.

Illinois roads are in disrepair. How would you approach this problem? How would you pay for it? I supported a bipartisan, balanced budget that includes a significant investment in our infrastructure, including nearly $400 million for downstate public transportation and $2.9 million for pay-as-you-go capital projects. These investments will help repair and enhance our infrastructure so that employers see Illinois as a better place to do business and give motorists safer roads travel on. While I support greater investment in repairing our roads, I am 100 percent opposed to the idea of taxing motorists for the miles they drive. I will fight against the mileage tax with everything I have.

What else should be done to address the ongoing opioid epidemic? It’s clear that Illinois must take steps to expand access to treatment and reduce the stigma associated with addiction. I am working with local police, educators and medical professionals on a comprehensive response to the opioid and drug abuse crisis that includes increased funding for drug abuse prevention programs to save lives and to help law enforcement combat drug dealers. A comprehensive approach to heroin and opioid addiction must also include a more comprehensive reporting program requiring hospitals to report statistics of all overdose cases to the Department of Public Health to help identify particularly at-risk areas and communities, helping legislators allocate resources and potentially helping law enforcement identify areas of heavy drug trafficking. We also need to take steps to reduce overprescribing opioids. When patients are overprescribed, these leftover pills can be left in drawers and medicine cabinets where children can easily find them and open a door to addiction. I hope to work with medical professionals and law enforcement to limit how many of the most powerful painkillers can be prescribed to a patient at one time and expand safe drug disposal options throughout the state.

What should Illinois’ income tax system look like? What rates would you want to see? How would those rates affect the state’s revenues? Illinois must remain focused on putting the middle class first. I strongly oppose any efforts to raise taxes on the middle-class. We can start by changing Illinois’ tax structure to cut taxes on middle-class families by making millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share. A fair income tax can ensure we have the funds we need to provide students with a world-class education, guarantee and expand access to quality health care, invest in job training and provide incentives for employers that create jobs here in Illinois, all while providing tax relief for middle-class and struggling families. In addition, I support property tax relief for homeowners, while opposing the mileage tax, opposing a retirement tax, and opposing any tax or fee that adds to the burden of the middle class.

Would you term limit yourself? If so, how many terms? I’ve already made my career with the Riverbend Growth Association and other local companies. I’m not looking to be a career politician, but I believe that citizens’ legislators are the best advocates for local communities. I would continue my mission of fighting for local jobs, stopping tax hikes and protecting workers for a reasonable time, as long as the residents of the 111th district believe that I’m strong voice for them.