Rep. Sam Yinglingan openly gay Democrat in the Illinois House's 62nd Districtfaces familiar challenges this year as he seeks re-election.
Following his original election in 2014, Yingling focused his efforts on the economic health from attempting to address the budget crisis to tackling the property tax issues in his district.
Heading into the 2018 election, he faces criticisms from Republican opponent Ken Idstein similar to those in prior election campaigns.
Windy City Times: Should you be elected to another term, what types of legislation should your constituents expect to see over the next two years?
Sam Yingling: I will continue to be an independent voice in Springfield for the people of my district. I'll keep fighting to rein in property taxes, consolidate government, and improve equitable funding for public education.
WCT: Your opponent, Ken Idstein, says one of his primary campaign issues is property taxesan issue you've attempted to tackle with legislation that would have allowed a referendum on making the Lake County assessor an elected office. How do you respond to his proposed strategy, and what are your future plans to address this topic?
SY: Lake County has one of the highest property taxes in the country and people are being forced out of their homes. We have an unaccountable and regressive property tax system that forces homeowners to choose between keeping their homes and paying for other basic needs like utilities and healthcare. This is unacceptable and it must be changed.
I have been leading efforts to lower property taxes and make our property tax system more accountable to the voters. As the Chairman of the Government Consolidation and Modernization Committee, I fight to make it easier for local governments to consolidate and save money on duplicative services. I also voted to fix the school funding formula to bring more state money to local schools and provide a way for local school districts to lower their property taxes. I also introduced legislation to help homeowners and businesses impacted by historic flooding Lake County experienced last summer.
This year, I passed SB2544 with bi-partisan super-majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly. The bill would have given the voters of Lake County the opportunity to vote this November on the question of whether to elect the Lake County assessor. That position is currently appointed, leaving the people with no way to hold the Assessor accountable for decisions that impact how much they pay in property taxes. It was supported by good government advocates, Republicans and Democrats on the Lake County board, the Lake County Township assessors, and thousands of Lake County residents who made phone calls, signed petitions, and testified at local hearings on the bill.
Unfortunately, Gov. [Bruce] Rauner denied the taxpayers of Lake County their right to vote this November on whether to elect the Lake County assessor. Lake County homeowners pay some of the highest property taxes in the country, but Gov. Rauner denied voters the power to hold the Lake County assessor accountable for decisions that affect how much they pay. That's wrong, and I will keep fighting to hold our property tax system accountable.
WCT: Much like your 2016 campaign, criticism of your connections to, support from and of House Speaker Mike Madigan is prevalent. How do you respond to charges that you are "Madigan's go-to guy?"
SY: I am proud to be an independent Democrat who will continue to put the priorities of my constituents first. I work across the aisle on the issues most important to my constituents, including property tax relief, government consolidation, and government accountability.
WCT: With the installment of [Brett] Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, LGBTQ-specific federal precedents like Obergefell may now be in danger. What is the path forward in protecting the civil liberties of LGBTQ people in your district? Do you believe the state legislature can adequately tackle issues like LGBTQ employment, housing and public accommodation non-discrimination protections?
SY: I will always fight to protect equal protections and equal opportunity for LGBTQ people in the legislature.
For more information about Sam Yingling's campaign, visit SamYingling.com .
See more Windy City Times 2018 candidate interviews and election coverage at www.windycitymediagroup.com/gaynewsarticles.php .