- Name: Robin Kelly
- Position sought: Illinois Second Congressional District Representative
- Website: robinkellyforcongress.org
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Age: 56
- Family: Husband, Nathaniel Horn
2 adult children
- Education: BA in Psychology & MA in Counseling in Human Development Services from
Bradley University, PhD from Northern Illinois University in Political Science
- Occupation: (Past) Chief Administrative Officer of Cook County
- Political Party: Democrat
- Official name of campaign: Robin Kelly for Congress
- Previous Elected or Appointed Offices: State Representative, 2003-2007
Is there any additional experience you believe qualifies you for the position?
I've been in training for this role for my entire career. My 20-plus years of experience working at the municipal, county and stae levels make me uniquely qualified to be the next Congresswoman from the 2nd District. No other candidate in this race has the depth and breadth of experience I have at working at multiple levels of government.
What would your priorities be if elected to this office?
1) I will work to reduce gun violence by advocating for common sense gun laws that will protect our communities and the Second Amendment. I stated in my pledge to reduce gun violence, I will work to pass a strong, comprehensive ban on assault weapons and eliminate the gun show loophole - which allows felons and other prohibited individuals to evade background checks when purchasing firearms. I will work to ban the types of high-capacity ammunition magazines that were used in the shootings at Aurora and Newtown. I will stand in opposition to organizations that oppose reasonable gun safety legislation. And I will support Illinois' current laws that prohibit conceal and carry permits.
2) I will work to improve public education to level the playing field for every child. The quality of a child's education should not be predicated on their zip code. I will advocate for common sense education reform that puts students first, allows teachers to teach and creates schools that inspire our children to be their best and provide them with the tools to succeed.
3) I will work to improve infrastructure in the 2nd district because transportation is the avenue to economic development. I will work to make the third airport in Peotone a reality, to extend rail service from 95th Street to 130th Street to Fullerton and to extend Metra past University Park into Will County. I will also investigate options for high speed rail in our area to get more drivers off the road and to and from their jobs faster.
4) I will work to bring jobs to our region by encouraging reinvestment in our schools, infrastructure and transportation systems. My focus would be on both blue collar jobs as well as big business. I would be particularly focused on luring the emerging technology sector, which is drawn to communities where their employees can live and work and where the schools produce highly-skilled workers trained in the careers of tomorrow.
Which of Jackson's 2nd District plans do you agree with and plan to continue?
I agree with and support the construction of a third airport in Peotone as part of a three-pronged approach to improving transportation in the district that would also include extending the Red Line to 130th Street and extending the Metra from University Park into Will County. Former Congressman Jackson understood the important role transportation plays in economic development and the need for the district to improve its infrastructure to attract business, encourage job creation and improve the quality of life of residents by reducing some of the highest commute times in the nation.
How do you define a small business, and what can government do to support them that isn't being done?
I consider a small business one with less than 100 employees, and believe that these are the engine of our economy. We must, as a government and a country, support and encourage small businesses by creating a regulatory environment that does not place undue burden on hardworking American business owners, maintains a taxation structure that is fair and transparent, and allows for fair and reasonable access to capital.
What steps would you take to reduce the federal deficit? If it includes tax increases, what taxes? And if it involves federal service cuts, which?
When talking about reducing the federal deficit, entitlement reform may sound like a noble endeavor. But it has little or nothing to do with reducing future budget deficits because our safety net programs are not the primary cause of the nation's long term budget problems. Almost all of the recent growth in low-income entitlement programs is due either to the recent recession or to rising costs through the U.S. healthcare system. As Congresswoman, I will take a balanced approach toward managing entitlements, through an even mix of revenue increases and spending cuts. I also believe that deficit reduction must not ignore tax entitlements. Future deficit reduction that comes entirely from spending cuts means cutting entitlement programs that mainly help poor and middle-class families while shielding tax breaks that mostly help the wealthy. As such, I pledge that I will support no deficit reduction agreement that increases poverty or income inequality.
What should the government do to create more jobs?
As I mentioned before, truly supporting small businesses and encouraging entrepreneurship is an important step in creating jobs. Another step would be to fix the regulatory process and corporate income tax rate. The government should be a partner with small businesses as job-creating entities, and stop treating them as entities to regulate. As I also mentioned, improvements in infrastructure will lead to job creation, not only in the short term construction related jobs but also by helping to lure businesses, particularly those in the tech sector, who are attracted to communities where their employees can live and work.
Should the federal government set different measurements than now for economically disadvantaged students, special education students, students learning English as a second language, etc?
Our educational system most fails our children when it attempts to paint them all with the same broad brush, ignoring the uniqueness in each child, how he or she learns and how variables such as home environment and language barriers can affect their ability to learn. That was the fundamental flaw in the No Child Left Behind law, which tried to stuff children in boxes and encouraged teaching to the test at the expense of actual learning. We need comprehensive education reform that provides children a quality education regardless of zip code, provides instruction tailored to their unique learning style and challenges and offers the social supports children need to succeed.
Should federal immigration policy be changed, and if so how?
Our nation's immigration policy as it stands now isn't working. While the system is broken, it is not beyond repair and I believe that comprehensive immigration reform is necessary to address the failings of current policy. The legislation currently being proposed by the bipartisan group in the U.S. Senate deserves review with a critical eye. Implementation of any plan should not hinge on border security. I support President Obama's position that the path to citizenship should be shorter.
What are your philosophies on social issues such as same-sex marriage, abortion and medicinal marijuana and what should government’s role be in those issues?
I support same-sex marriage, a woman's right to choose and the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. I do not believe the government has the right to legislate love, dictate the choices a woman makes for her body or to deny a chronically-ill patient a remedy that has been determined necessary by medical professionals.
What should minimum wage be in Illinois and through what method should increases be determined?
While Illinois' minimum wage of $8.25 is higher than the federal minimum wage, many studies have shown that for a single adult in Cook County, a true living wage would be about $10.48 per house and nearly double that amount for a single adult with a child. I believe the minimum wage should reflect the economic realities of living in a metropolitan area and should be adjusted upward for inflation.
Bi-partisanship is often mentioned by congressional members. Tell us how you would work with members of the opposite party?
As a state representative, I frequently worked across the aisle with my Republican colleagues so the concept of bi-partisanship is not a new one for me. The key is compromise and respect, being willing to listen to the other side's points of view, negotiating in good faith and remembering that we all should be working toward a shared goal and that is doing what is best for our districts and the American people.
How do you feel about the level of financial transparency as it relates to political campaigns?
I believe not only that there is not enough financial transparency but that there is also too much emphasis on money in the political process. The high-cost of elections is discouraging good people from seeking elected office and it shouldn't be this way. Elections should be about selecting the best person for the job, not the best fundraiser. As Congresswoman, I would work for campaign finance reform to reduce the influence of money in the political process and create a more level playing field that will allow for everyday citizens to seek elected office.
Have you ever been convicted of a felony, sued successfully or had a restraining order placed against you? If so, please explain.