Position sought: 36th District State Representative
Campaign contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook Page: Robert Shelstrom for 36th District Representative
Family: Veronica Shelstrom; wife; children, Tiffany Shelstrom, 21, marketing and communications student at Illinois State University; Tina Shelstrom, 17, and Jeffrey Shelstrom, 17 students at Stagg High School.
Education: Stagg High School graduate; University of Illinois (Urbana) BS in Civil Engineering; Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago) Master of Mechanical Engineering.
Occupation: Professional engineer, college and high school math and science teacher.
Political party: Republican
Official name of your campaign committee (if you have one): N/A
Previous Elected or Appointed Offices Palos Township delegate to the Illinois GOP Convention, 2008 and 2012.
Is there any additional experience you believe qualifies you for the position? I’m a Liberty Leader in the Illinois Policy Institute and have had numerous opinions publiched in Crain’s Chicago Business, and SunTimes syndicate newpapers.
What would your priorities be if elected to this office?
1) Create a business friendly environment to bring private sector jobs back to Illinois. This can be done by tax structure reform, reforming Workman’s Compensation and Malpractice Insurance to cost businesses the same as adjacent states, and reduce capital gain taxes fro Illinois businesses. Mike Madigan and Governor Quinn have created the 48th WORST business environment in the nation, and their “leadership” off the fiscal cliff needs to be ended.
2) Balance state budget by eliminating wasteful and corrupt spending, immediately ending Mike Madigan’s job-killing 67% income tax increase, end all grants and discretionary spending that cannot be shown to save the state money and spend the savings on paying down overdue bills and pension liabilities.
3) Reform the public pension program in Illinois to protect current retirees and end excesses and abuses.
4) Repeal the “Prevailing Wage Act” to allow our schools to pay fair market value for construction labor rather than the highest union rates.
5) Reform the “Educational Labor Relations Act” to protect districts that are paying above average salaries and benefits, spending at least 65% of their operating budget, or don’t have at least 6 months of cash reserves from teacher strikes, and allow more than one union, or individual to represent themselves without being forced to pay “negotiating fees”.
What sets you apart from the other candidates? I’m running for office because I believe this election will determine the future of Illinois, and we need people in office whose goal is to save our state from the fiscal disaster that Mike Madigan and the Democratic Party has led us into. Unlike my opponent, I’m not interested in being a “Career Politician”. I will run for one or two two year terms and recruit and support the person who will replace me in the office.
What should first be done by the state to keep businesses that have strongly voiced the possibility of leaving, such as CME and Sears? We need to repeal Mike Madigan’s job-killing 67% income tax increase and reform our tort, workman’s compensation and malpractice insurance laws to ensure businesses are treated fairly in Illinois and costs are no more than adjacent states. We also need to “level the playing field” in labor relations by making Illinois a “Right to Work” state.
If our tax structure, insurance and tort costs are comparable to other states, moving from Illinois would no longer be financially feasible and no 9 figure “special deals” (read “bribes”) would be necessary to keep large companies here.
What can be done to help College Illinois? We need to hold those responsible for the corruption, patronage, cronyism, and mismanagement of the program accountable by having them tender their resignations. The “authors” of this politically corrupt mess are Speaker Madigan and Governor Quinn, both of whom had the responsibility for oversight of the program, but allowed the system and “pinstripe patronage” to cheat those entering the program in good faith.
According to the auditor general’s report, the primary failing on the program was the involved organizations not performing their responsibilities, and having multiple violations of their duties and state law. Clearly the Illinois Governor responsible for appointing Trustees was politically based and this led to the horrible abuse of the $1.28 billion program. At this point, we need to better vet trustees and have non-political approval of new trustees to ensure proper operation of the program.
What should the government do to create more jobs?
We should reform our government by electing people who will work to cut the patronage and corruption from the system and treat all businesses equally and fairly. We need to reduce the corrupt cost of Illinois government by reforming the pension benefits and revenues, reforming labor law so that schools cannot enter into contracts for which they do not have adequate revenues, reform the corrupt and lawyer driven Workman’s Compensation laws, which cost triple that of neighboring Indiana, repeal Mike Madigan’s job-killing 67% tax increase and change the regulatory environment to be compatible with our neighboring states.
What are your philosophies on social issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion, and what should government’s role in those issues?
I believe that what adults of capacity choose to do in their bedrooms is none of my, or the government’s, business. That being said, I do not believe that same sex marriage should be legitimized, or subsidized, by government. There are three main goals of the “same sex marriage” movement:
(1) Gain legal acceptance of the gay lifestyle,
(2) Use legal acceptance of the gay lifestyle as being “equal” to heterosexual unions for compulsory promotion of that lifestyle in the schools, and
(3) Gain new financial benefits, at the expense of a bankrupt state, because of a same sex relationship.
I do not believe it should be the function of government to force its citizens to accept behaviors they feel is contrary to their religious beliefs, and it should not be a function of government to use tax dollars to promote certain sexual lifestyles. Since the state is broke, it is not appropriate to even consider increasing benefits to a new class.
Regarding abortion, I follow the Judeo-Christian tenet of abortions being morally acceptable when medically necessary to protect the life of the mother. I do not believe in abortion for “convenience”. There are tough situations where individual circumstances need to be considered regarding protecting the life of the mother, as in cases of rape or incest. Whether the mother will be so damaged by carrying a pregnancy under such situations to full term that they may be suicidal must be determined by a medical professional.
I do not believe taxpayer dollars should be spent subsidizing abortion when not medically necessary to protect the life of the mother. I do not believe doctors should be legally required to provide abortion services they believe are not morally justifiable.
I believe all minor girls should have parental permission before having an abortion performed.
Do you support a gaming bill that would increase the number of casinos or other gambling venues in Illinois? Should a casino be built in Chicago?
I believe that only casinos that will either be used to gain revenue from out-of state gamblers, provide gaming services to Illinoisans leaving the state to gamble, or increasing gaming opportunities to venues already providing gaming opportunities should be allowed. This means I support having casinos at our state lines just before leaving to Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri should be allowed, as well as allowing slot machines at race tracks. A Chicago casino near McCormick place may not be a bad idea, as it would likely most often be used by conventioners.
What do you suggest for property tax relief?
We need to revise the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) to factor in enrollment at public schools. Under the current law, districts such as High School District 230 are allowed to increase real estate taxes between 3-5% per year despite having a much smaller service load due to rapidly decreasing enrollments. Tax increases should be reduced, or overall tax revenue reduced, when enrollment drops. Conversely, the districts should be able to increase tax levies by more the “capped” amount when enrollment increases at greater rates.
Today, much of real estate tax bill from schools has been increased by “backdoor” tax increases allowed by state law for “Working Cash”, “Funding”, and “Life Safety” Bonds. The way this scam works is that a district sells bonds and is able to add the repayment of these bonds directly to the real estate tax bills without voter approval. This practice should be ended and all tax levy increases should be required to be approved by voter referendum.
Ultimately, the primary reason for high taxes are staff contracts providing salaries and benefits beyond what the districts revenues can support and excessively high construction and maintenance costs created by the “Prevailing Wage Act”.
All school district contracts with employees, whether for individuals or union groups, should have a requirement that the district prepare a financial plan that shows that the costs of the contract are within current revenues, will not result in a reduction of student services, or will result in a reduction of district cash reserves to less than 6 months of operating expenses.
Approval of this plan by the state BOE should be required prior to the Board voting to approve a contract.
Should the state consider consolidating school districts? What would be the best way to accomplish this in your legislative district? I believe reconciling the salary, benefit, and work rule requirements in districts is an insurmountable obstacle in schools and local fire and police districts. Unions will not accept reductions in salaries and benefits to meet that of the consolidating districts, and money isn’t available to increase elementary school districts’ compensation to meet that of the high school.
What CAN be done is having school districts enter into co-op agreements for shared maintenance, clerical, administrative, special education, and transportation services to eliminate redundant services and overhead costs.
Should the state legalize marijuana?
Yes. Much of the gang and illegal activity in Illinois is related to drug use. Marijuana is available in most communities in our state. It should not be sold to minors, and should be regulated as is tobacco products.
Are there ways to reform the legislative scholarship program, or would you support calls to eliminate the program?
It should be eliminated. Scholarships should not be given based upon political connections.