Name: David J. Seiler
Office seeking: State Representative-107th district
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City of residence: Effingham
Campaign website: www.davefor107.com
Why are you running and why should people vote for you? I’m running because I believe that democracy requires participation and that those who can contribute positively to the process have an obligation to do so. In recent years, the Democrats of the region have too often failed to meet this obligation to participate and so I am stepping up. I am at a point in my life where life experiences enable me to recognize the needs of the region. People should vote for me for State Rep because I pledge to bring the knowledgeable folks of the region from both sides of the aisle together to help shape the decisions for the district. I readily admit that I don’t have all the answers but I do know that we need voices from both sides and for far too long we have only been sending members of one party to Springfield.
Who will you support for Speaker of the House and why? As a Democrat, I will support the nominee of the Democratic Party for Speaker of the House. I think it’s important to note that the issue of the power of the Speaker position isn’t about one person, it’s about the structure of government in Illinois. Our current process of selecting representatives leads to consolidation of power in party leadership no matter which party is in the majority. I advocate returning to the pre-1980 format of choosing House members where each district chose three representatives. I believe that one of the many benefits of such a change would be a reduction in power of party leadership on both sides.
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? I am a strong advocate of organized labor and collective bargaining. I am currently a member of Illinois Federation of Teachers as well as a past member of Illinois Education Association. I have held many leadership positions in my local and served on negotiations teams. I disagree with the Janus decision but see the need for unions to step up their game as a silver lining of the Janus cloud. While AFL-CIO and IFT both endorsed my candidacy, some other major unions have not endorsed me because I advocate for seeking solutions in the middle. So while I consider myself pro-union, in the eyes of some I am not union enough.
What is your stance on expanding gambling in Illinois? I have concerns about the degree to which legalized gambling has been allowed to expand in Illinois. I think it has grown at a much faster rate than anyone really anticipated and that looking at the impact would be wise before considering further expansion.
Illinois roads are in disrepair. How would you approach this problem? How would you pay for it? Society built a wonderful infrastructure over the last fifty years but really didn’t create a budget to maintain it. This is short sighted and foolish. We have to look at our roads, bridges, sewers, schools, etc. as investments in the future and investments require funding. I advocate that Illinois move to a progressive income tax in order to give the state the ability to tax fairly. I have said many times that I don’t believe Illinois is necessarily overtaxed or undertaxed but that we have a poor tax structure. Some folks pay too much in taxes while others don’t likely pay enough. Lawmakers ought to factor in the cost of infrastructure upkeep and present an honest accounting of what needs the state while considering the proper taxes and taxing structure.
What else should be done to address the ongoing opioid epidemic? The opioid epidemic is a tragedy in our midst but in many ways is a silent tragedy of which many people are unaware. I think the steps that have been taken to control excess prescriptions are wise and need to be reinforced around the state. There are studies suggesting that legal marijuana is a valid approach to this issue as well. As a state legislator, I would bring the medical and law enforcement professionals together to see how we can develop policies more geared toward treatment than law enforcement. Jail cells and prisons are ill suited for guiding folks away from drug addiction. Society needs to develop policies more geared toward treatment than punishment.
What should Illinois’ income tax system look like? What rates would you want to see? How would those rates affect the state’s revenues? I do believe the flat tax currently used by Illinois has contributed to the development of a poor tax structure. The inability of the state to fund its proper share of the education budget essentially forced school districts to raise property taxes on homeowners, which is a particularly poor way to tax. I don’t like the idea of taxing services as I see such taxes as mostly regressive. A haircut for a poor man costs pretty much the same as a haircut for a rich man but they would both pay the same amount of “service tax” if such a thing were implemented. I do believe there are additional revenue streams that most folks would agree are fair and potentially justified. I think that taxing pensions could be one of those but only if done in conjunction with a progressive income tax. It makes little sense to put additional tax on lower income folks who spend the dollars and generate economic growth. I also believe that expansion of legalized marijuana can be additional revenue for the state. We are a big state and have the ability to dig our way out of the economic problems but it has to be done with intentionality.
Would you term limit yourself? If so, how many terms? My view on public service is that there are limits to any one person’s usefulness. At some point there is a limit to how much a person can positively contribute and after that point, they should step aside. I served two terms on the local library board before voluntarily stepping aside because I believed others could contribute more. So while the answer to the question is yes, I don’t really have a number of terms in mind. Nor do I think that any such pledge made by others should hold any water anyway. Congressman John Shimkus is infamous for breaking his term limit pledge but Republican voters who often advocate for term limits haven’t seemed eager to apply them, so the issue appears to be more transactional than anything else.