5th Congressional District Election Questionnaire Name: __Patrick J. O’Connor____________________ Birth date: __1954_________ Political affiliation ____Democratic___________________________________________ Home address __Chicago, IL 60625 ___________________ Do you live in the district? ____Yes __________________________________________ Phone (home) ______ (mobile) ____ ______ (Pager) _N/A E-mail email@example.com___ Blog_________________________________ Marital status _Married_______ Spouse's name_Barbara O’Connor_________________ Occupation/Firm name __Alderman/Attorney__________________________________ Business address _5850 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60659 (Phone) _773/769-1140 Campaign HQ address _5681 North Lincoln Avenue_ (Phone) _773/769-8150 _______ _Chicago, Illinois 60659___________________________________________________ Webpage _www.oconnorforcongress.com E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org____ Campaign manager _______________________________________________________ Press Secretary ______________________ Media consultant _Ken Snyder ________ Pollster _Glengariff Group, Inc.___ Direct mail consultant _Grainger Terry, Inc._______ Finance directors _We have hired Grainger Terry, Inc. to assist in fundraising. Due to the short campaign season, we have not designated Finance Directors, per se. ____________ Other campaign staff/consultants ____________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________ Name of any relatives on public payrolls _There are four relatives of mine currently on a public payroll. One, a sister, is the only immediate family member. I do not have their consent to provide the names of the others to you for publication on your website. Name of your federal campaign committee __O’Connor for Congress ___________ Campaign treasurer __Thomas Lydon________________________________________ Please attach sheets with names of your finance committee; dates, locations and names of hosts of fundraisers, and copies of solicitation letters issued by your committee. The host of the following fundraisers that are scheduled is Committee to Elect O’Connor for Congress. Dates: 2/6, 7:30 a.m., @ Charlie’s Ale House, 5308 N. Clark Street; 2/10, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., @ Harry Caray’s, 33 N. Kinzie. Have you had any kind of program for top donors or fundraisers (for example seminars, briefings, golf outings)? __No, the finance program has just begun and no activities such as those described for donors or contributors are planned. ______________________________________ List lobbyists assisting you, directly or indirectly, in raising money for your campaign. ___None________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________ Will you pledge to disclose in advance where and when your fund-raising events occur? If the answer is no, please explain ___Yes_______________________________ _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________ Please explain how your occupation and your life experience qualify you for the 5th Congressional District seat. Ronald Reagan once said that one of the most frightening greetings was “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” The 5th Congressional District is an urban, large suburban district of municipal entities that rely upon their local revenues, and the county, state and federal government to various extents, for the dollars to provide services and infrastructure to their residents. My time in city government makes me uniquely qualified to work on federal legislation for our district, specifically, and the nation at large, because I have the experience of fashioning budgets and polices that incorporate the use of federal funds for local use. I know how federal red tape and unfunded mandates hurt the local units of government and, by extension, the residents of the 5th Congressional District. Similarly, my 24 years as Chairman of the City Council’s Committee on Education and Youth Development has given me an expertise on urban public education that surpasses that of any candidate in this contest. I know the way in which federal legislation like “No Child Left Behind” affects the children in the classroom and the positives and negatives associated with federal mandated educational polices tied to federal money. I could help take the fright out of Reagan’s words. As a member of the City Council, I pride myself on my record of bringing tangible evidence of our tax dollars back to our community. I have brought a new library, police station, firehouse, park fountains, dog park, playgrounds, school renovations and additions and the first high school built in Chicago in the past 40 years, and now the best high school in the state – Northside College Prep. This has all been done in the past 10 years, without county, state or federal assistance. I have helped create jobs and retain jobs in my community with tax incentives, tax credits and increment financing, helping our local business base. My life experience includes all of my 54 years living in and representing a portion of the District. My wife and I met in third grade, married after my first year of law school. We have raised five children, public school graduates through grammar school, and all educated, well adjusted young adults. We raised them in the 5th Congressional District and are part of our church and active in our community, just like so many 5th District residents. I grew up working as a Park District lifeguard, played 16” softball, Chicago’s game, and I earned my union card by driving a truck for six years, while attending college and law school. I share the experience and values of so many families in the 5th Congressional District. My life experience and work experience combine to make me the right representative for this District. Issues: Please attach any materials you wish describing your key issues. DOMESTIC ISSUES What are your top three district-specific priorities? _My top three district priorities in the immediate future derive from President Obama’s economic stimulus plan. First, I want to maximize the federal dollars provided in this plan for creating new jobs by investing in our local infrastructure repairs and expansion, while simultaneously addressing environmental concerns by building green. Developing new green technology and buildings will create new jobs, which will dispel the previously held axiom that environmentally driven goals were anti-job/anti-business. Second, I want to maximize the federal dollars in this plan dedicated to education related spending, especially for education infrastructure, spending to repair and update older schools and ensure the newest technologies are available. Third, to invest in the small businesses of the 5th Congressional District which are the corner stone of economic stability and growth in the district. Making money available for small businesses in this economy should be everyone’s priority. All of these issues go hand in hand with addressing the health care crisis because they are all interrelated and addressing one without the other is how Washington has always done business and is not the change people want. ___________________________ Do you feel TARP has been effective so far? Why or why not? If not, what would you change? Are you satisfied with the transparency and accountability of the program? No, I do not feel TARP has been effective so far. The idea was to get dollars into the _credit system and we are not seeing that result. Local community banks have not realized a benefit from TARP and there has been no evidence of money being used for average citizens to address mortgage or small business loan emergencies. The bailout for the banking industry is a loan program. Smaller, community banks cannot afford the interest attached to the federal dollars. Most cannot accept the money and engage in sound banking practice at the same time. I have, for 10 years, been working with a community bank which specializes in small business loans. I know how important being able to support small businesses is to the local economy. At the time of passage, one argument was the largest of the banking systems needed immediate cash to absorb and prevent institutional failings to prevent a nationwide banking collapse and prevent an international panic for American markets, and from that perspective TARP has met a bare minimum goal, but that was not the sole goal. I would change provisions to ensure oversight and accountability and to provide the dollars to smaller, local banks, rather than the giant, multi-state institutions. I feel this would be a better way to ensure the money gets to the “main street” people and businesses we talk about needing help. I am not satisfied with the transparency and accountability of the program because there is none and before the next pay out to the industry is made, this problem must be addressed and corrected. Congress insisted the auto industry present a plan prior to receiving federal dollars to “bail out” their industry and it should set the same requirements for the banking and financial industry. Before becoming President Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, was on track to be speaker of the House, which would be a coup for Chicago and Illinois. There have been persistent rumors that Emanuel might wish to return to the 5th Congressional seat for that very purpose. Yes or no, in those circumstances, would you be willing to step aside? No, if I am elected to serve by the people of the 5th Congressional District, I am going to serve, completing each term which I am elected to.____________________________ Do you support President Obama’s proposed stimulus package? Explain. __Yes, I support this package, particularly the funding for infrastructure, education, and health care. The plan has been criticized by some, asserting that it should only focus on the economy and creating jobs and that by dunging education and health care needs, it is not an economic stimulus bill. Those criticizing have missed a point. Under current college aid funding programs, college graduates have so much debt that they cannot afford to live on their own because the starting salary they receive does not cover rent, food, transportation to work, utilities and student loan payments. This means recent college graduates entering the work force are not spending disposable income and supporting the economy by making purchases. The President’s stimulus package addressed college tuition needs that will make college more affordable and the hope is that college debt will be reduced to a level that a recent graduate will be able to live. The same thinking is why the stimulus package needs to fund health care programs. Job creation and economic recovery do not stand alone, but are integral parts of a whole picture. Do you have a plan to ensure access to higher education? Explain. Yes, I do have a plan to ensure access to higher education. I know, as the father of five children to put through college, how expensive higher education can be and feel Congress has long needed to reform Title IV’s student assistance programs. I support and will strengthen the Pell Grant program which has been severely weakened over the last several years, as well as put funding into campus based financial assistance – loan programs and increase federal loan limits so that borrowers are not forced to take out alternative private loans which generally carry higher interest rates and usually lack borrower benefits like deferments, consolidation or loan cancellation for those who pursue certain careers. I support legislation like the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act of 2008 and the College Student Relief Act which reduces interest rates on government subsidized loans and gives borrowers more time to pay off federal college loans. I also support the College Opportunity and Affordability Act that encourages colleges to limit price increases for tuition, restore accountability to their student loan programs and works to simplify the student loan application process._ I have worked on this issue at the city level for years. I helped fund the Taxpayer Assistance Program with city and Board of Education support. This group helps people prepare tax returns to obtain their earned income tax credit payment. Simultaneously, they help parents and students prepare their FAFSA form to be eligible for student assistance. The average eligibility has been over $10,000 per student. Are you in favor of universal health care or some other plan? _____________________ I am in favor of universal health care and will work to ensure access to quality and affordable health care for everyone. The passage of any plan to provide universal coverage is not going to take place in the next few months, so I support the recent steps congress has taken to expand SCHIP and COBRA extension. The recent increase in SCHIP allows 4-million new children to receive health care, and this program should continue to see its funding increased until a comprehensive health care plan is passed. The current COBRA provisions are unacceptable as well in an economy that is seeing more and more people lose their jobs every day. Workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own should be eligible for COBRA indefinitely. Also, we can fix Medicare Part D to realize a cost savings to the government and provide better health care to seniors by allowing the government to negotiate with drug companies to get the best prices possible for the prescription drugs. We also need to amend Part D to remove penalties for changing plans during the first year. Chicago has just had to close neighborhood health clinics due to lost funding and this is not acceptable. We should be expanding this type of clinic. Investing in universal health care benefits for everyone will save money in the future. Preventive health care is infinitely less expensive than catastrophic health care. How do you propose we fix Social Security? I propose fixing social security by opposing attempts to privatize it, especially given the performance of Wall Street this last year. I would also oppose individual private accounts funded by social security payroll taxes, and I will raise the cap or eliminate the cap on earnings subject to the social security payroll tax as a means of keeping social security strong. I support the Social Security Fairness Act that reforms the government pension offset and windfall elimination provisions. I will also look at legislation that sets stiffer penalties for fraud when investing pension funds. I will support legislation that protects defined benefit pensions. Flooding has been a persistent problem in some areas of the 5th District. As its congressman, what steps would you take to help your constituents? As Congressman, to help prevent flooding in the 5th District, I will make infrastructure a top priority. I will work closely with local community organizations, residents, environmental leaders, and elected officials to identify the areas in need and the solutions proposed and the role Washington can play in the solution. All too often issues have a solution being held up because the local and state funding sources are waiting on either required or necessary federal dollars. The city of Chicago, unlike most cities, actually has capacity to provide matching dollars and needn’t wait for a state match. We would have the capacity to, with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, address water diversion and retention and city sewer structures. I will work to ensure those federal dollars and pilot programs come to the 5th District. What should Congress do about immigration? Should it pass a border-enforcement bill first and then vote on a guest worker program and a measure to provide a means to legalization for illegal immigrants? Or should it pass one comprehensive bill? Congress must address the immigration issue, but it should not pass a border enforcement bill that is not part of a fair and comprehensive reform bill. Immigration reform is a series of intertwined complex issues that need to be addressed as a whole while, first and foremost, remembering that we are a nation of immigrants. I am the son of an Irish immigrant and feel strongly that any reform must reflect the basic ideals that America has always stood for and those ideals include human rights, due process and personal freedoms. The guest worker program and the issue of how to keep families together must be addressed the same time. To reduce carbon emissions, do you favor a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system or neither? Explain.__I favor a carbon cap to cut carbon emissions at a rate that will ensure reductions of 80% by 2050. We must reduce greenhouse emissions and to do this, we must act to curb carbon emissions. I feel the best way to do this is by imposing a cap that will ensure we reduce emissions by 2% for each of the next 40 years. I also support auctioning greenhouse gas emission permits rather than giving away such permits as a means of raising new revenue. FOREIGN POLICY What is your timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq? ___________________ I support President Obama’s plans and timetables for withdrawal from Iraq. The President, as Commander-in-Chief, has great latitude in foreign policy, and it is important that Congress supports him and not act to undermine him, absent significant evidence which would mandate congressional action. What role should the United States have in bringing about peace in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? _____The United States must play a leadership role in bringing about peace in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I fully support the new Secretary of State and the innovative creation of Special Envoy George Mitchell to this region. Every time the United States has abdicated its leadership role in this region, the result has been escalating violence and the promise of earlier peace initiatives has been lost. I also firmly support the United States continuing its commitment to ensuring a safe and strong Israel. We cannot turn our backs on one of our oldest and staunchest allies. Do you support a proposed troop surge in Afghanistan? How long are you willing to have troops stay there? How do you propose to bring stability to the nation once most of the troops are withdrawn? Again, I support President Obama’s plans with respect to the current proposed surge in Afghanistan. All of the evidence and information I have seen supports the need for such a surge if we hope to make progress on ending the terror threats to the United States at home and abroad. This was where our military efforts should have been focused the last four years. I am not willing to put a time frame for how long I am willing to keep troops there, because I do not think this is useful or solid policy, but a surge, if successful, would help create a better base line and speed up withdrawal possibilities. I support keeping troops there until I would see evidence that their presence was not necessary or justified, much as we saw and are seeing with troop levels in Iraq. Obviously, I would hope it is for as short as time as possible since no one wants to see our young men and women in combat any longer than absolutely necessary. In order to bring stability to the nation once our troops are withdrawn, I think it is essential we have an actual plan in place prior to withdrawal and that the Secretary of State and her team have begun to build the necessary relationships with the people of Afghanistan. We should also be working now with the United Nations to have a peace keeping plan in place and ready to implement. What steps should the United States take to reduce its dependence on foreign oil? I feel that to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, the United States must invest more in developing alternative fuel sources and tie any auto industry aid to producing better fuel efficient cars. We need automobiles that get better miles to the gallon. Also, we need to invest more in our public transportation systems so that people choose to ride public transportation rather than drive. High speed rail systems should be a goal of this portion of our energy policy as well. This could result in less dependency on air travel and air industry fuel consumption, as well as provide job opportunities for the creation of and expansion of the system. The use of electronic neighborhood vehicles, such as I just moved through my committee in the City Council, will help reduce dependence upon oil and be more efficient in terms of costs and efficiencies.
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