Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board questionnaire responses
Q) What are your three top national legislative priorities for the country?
A) The challenges facing our nation, while great, also present opportunities for positive impactful change. In Congress, my three top national legislative priorities will be: gun violence reduction, preserving and improving the Affordable Care Act, and economic fairness.
1) Gun Violence Reduction: I led the charge to ban assault weapons and large capacity magazines with one of the first local assault weapons bans, despite strong NRA opposition all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Like so many others, I recognize the challenges facing our nation’s efforts to reduce gun violence. No parent should have to worry about sending a child to school, the park or the movie theater. Gun violence in our nation has created an unnecessary culture of fear and grief. No other civilized nations suffer from the extreme amount of gun violence that we experience in the United States. The conversation regarding second amendment rights needs to return to a point where common sense prevails with Congress taking the following actions: a. pass a national assault weapons and large capacity magazines ban b. close gun show loopholes c. require universal background checks d. hold gun dealers who violate the law accountable
2) Reinforce and strengthen the Affordable Care Act and protect it from attempts to repeal: As a health care attorney, I am dedicated to promoting access to health care for all. We know that with access to health care, people are able to go to work and school, care for their families and participate in their communities. By providing health care to millions of people who previously did not have such access, we are providing a basic right that makes a life-changing difference. Previously, nearly 2/3 of all personal bankruptcies were driven by health care expenses. As the parent of a child with a chronic disease, I appreciate the impact of removing pre-existing condition prohibitions and allowing children to remain on their parents’ plans until age 26. Since the law’s enactment, Congress has voted over three dozen times to repeal the Affordable Care Act. These votes have been a waste of time and resources. In Congress, I will work to preserve and improve the Affordable Care Act, making sure that all Americans have the ability to receive the medical care they need.
3) Economic Opportunity: We need to re-establish our strong economy by reforming the tax code, improving and expanding workforce development, protecting the rights of our workers, and having policies that reflect the realities of our businesses and our families. The U.S. corporate tax rate is high, thus U.S. corporations find moving overseas an attractive option. While many take advantage of domestic resources such as an educated workforce, environmental protections and infrastructure, they evade taxes via inversions and tax revenues are not available domestically. When companies move their addresses overseas, the rest of us are left to shoulder the burden of our nation’s financial needs. Jobs are lost and the middle class in particular feels the squeeze. We can reverse this trend with reduced marginal tax rates, elimination of tax code loopholes and deductions and tax credits for staying in the U.S. In addition, our corporate tax code would benefit from an update to bring it into the current economy to address the major growth in high tech and entrepreneurial sectors. As currently drafted, sufficient incentives are not in place to encourage the growth of small, entrepreneurial businesses or high- tech, low capital businesses. Our economy would benefit from these reforms. Lastly, it is critical to recognize that while women make up half the work force, “women’s issues” are actually family issues. As a working mother with four sons, I have experienced the challenges faced in the workplace. I will fight for equal pay, affordable childcare, paid maternity leave and against the discrimination of pregnant women and nursing mothers in the workplace.
Q) What are the three most important issues in your district on which you believe the federal government needs to act?
A) The 10th Congressional District is incredibly diverse with a broad range of legislative opportunities. The three most important issues in my district are economic development, education and infrastructure. Economic Development: The economy of the 10th Congressional District includes manufacturing, bio- pharma, farming, multiple hospitals, tourism, insurance and finance, small businesses and high-tech start-ups. Our area is a major economic hub for the Chicagoland area. In our District, we need to provide incentives for our many businesses to stay in the U.S., not to mention Illinois, and ensure that a broad range of jobs are available, paying a fair wage for a full day’s work. The workforce in the 10th District is diverse. It is essential that job options exist to meet the needs of workers. Keeping businesses in the 10th District preserves and increases job growth, providing opportunities to the many people eager to get back to work. Education: As a mother of four sons, I am deeply committed to providing excellent public education for all children. Across the district, I hear from parents about educational needs, lost opportunities and a concern about the quality of public education. We need to adequately fund our schools and give our teachers the resources they need to educate our future leaders. We must address the inequities in our educational system with federal and state resources to ensure that all children have educational opportunities that will allow them to succeed. In particular, the federal government needs to support impact aid to local schools with large numbers of military families in their districts. These school districts are disproportionately bearing the costs of educating military children and have insufficient resources. Our children need to have access to early education. Supporting and providing programs such as Head Start ensure that they are ready learners on the first day of school. We also need to focus on providing post-secondary options so that our students have the necessary training or opportunities to continue learning beyond high school. When it comes to higher education, community colleges need support, as they are important partners in providing broad technical and career opportunities. We need to ensure that we are providing sufficient resources to community colleges so that all students have the ability to continue their educations. Lastly, we must continue to address making college affordable for all and support programs that reduce student debt. Infrastructure and Transit: Throughout the District, traffic congestion and inadequate public transit means wasted time and money commuting, as well as a diminished quality of life. Traveling east to west and vice versa in the 10th District is an exercise in daily frustration. In addition to lost employee productivity, businesses also feel the impact as inadequate roads, rail systems and ports slow down the transport of supplies and manufactured goods. Congress needs to build on the FAST Act, a patch-worked effort at infrastructure investment. While laudable in its ability to provide some funding stability for the next five years, our nation needs a long-term, comprehensive, sustainable approach to infrastructure and transit investment. Metra, PACE and the RTA also need dependable, sustainable funding and coordinated planning to provide reliable, seamless public transit throughout the District. Insufficient transportation infrastructure limits access to jobs, schools and health care, threatens public safety and costs millions of extra dollars to make up for deferred and emergency maintenance. As a Mayor, I made infrastructure investment a priority and will do the same in Congress. This is the right thing to do as it results in an improved economy, quality of life and public health and safety.
Q) What is your biggest fundamental difference with your opponent(s)?
A) There are several key issues where I differ from my opponent. I will bring a lifetime of advocacy reflecting the values of our District and a record of producing real results to a Congress that has produced little in recent years. The 10th District needs a leader who can find common sense solutions to the issues that matter, has the courage to stand up to special interests and get things done. Voters are exhausted from flip-flopping representatives and are looking for a member of Congress who can win this seat and hold it in 2018. As a Mayor, I passed one of the only local assault weapons bans in the nation, fighting the NRA all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. My opponent, Brad Schneider took no action to ban assault weapons or large capacity magazines during his two years in Congress. Another critical legislative difference I have with my opponent is my support of affordable health care for all Americans. While in Congress, Brad Schneider voted multiple times to delay the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and undercut the ACA’s funding voting to eliminate the medical device tax, a key source of ACA funding. As a health care attorney and a mother of a son with Type 1 diabetes, I have prioritized accessible, quality, affordable health care for all and recognize the vital impact that it has on people’s lives. Another key policy difference is my public announcement and support of the Iran Nuclear Weapons Agreement. Bob Dold came out against the deal before the details were even announced, and my opponent, Brad Schneider quickly followed by blogging his opposition to the Deal in a foreign paper. In contrast, I took time to carefully consider the agreement and its implications on the global stage. In the end, I concluded that the only responsible decision would be to support the deal, despite its flaws. Thus far, Iran has shipped more than 25,000 pounds of uranium out of the country, disabled the reactor, and destroyed thousands of centrifuges. Rejecting the deal without proposing a realistic or credible alternative was a disservice to all who are concerned about the security of the U.S., Israel and the world, and was irresponsible at this critical time in our history.
Q) Will you pledge to make public:
A) your campaign schedule; b) your fundraiser schedule and the names of all fundraiser hosts; c) if elected, your daily schedule of meetings? If not, why not?
A) Yes. As a Mayor, I have focused on regaining our residents’ trust through transparency and communications. Under my leadership, we increased the number and type of city meetings that are televised and available on-line so people can watch them at their convenience. We also strengthened our ethics by passing new ordinances to eliminate conflicts of interest and increased opportunities for residents to meet with their elected officials. Transparency, ethics and public participation have been a cornerstone of my public service and will continue in the future.
Q) Please list all relatives on public or campaign payrolls and their jobs on those payrolls.
Q) What are the most important actions Congress can take to reduce the threat of ISIS abroad and at home?
A) Our highest priority is the security of the American people. While we cannot erase every threat at home or abroad, we must be vigilant and proactive in reducing the threats of terrorism. It is critical that we are brutally realistic in our analyses, preparation and responses to threats of terrorism here, abroad and to the shared American interests throughout the world. I support targeted action against ISIS through coordinated air attacks and the strategic use of U.S. Special Forces. It is also crucial to work with opposition forces in Syria to diminish the impact of ISIS while we work to stabilize that war-torn nation. We need to use our substantial counterterrorism capabilities, working with our allies to cut off ISIS’s funding, improve our intelligence, strengthen our defenses, and stem the flow of foreign fighters into and out of the Middle East. Additionally, the provision of humanitarian relief for millions of families fleeing oppression and war is critical to their future views of the U.S. and subsequent decisions to inflict harm.
Q) What bans, if any, do you support on Muslim admissions to the United States? Please explain your position.
A) While our officials should always look for ways to strengthen the screening process for people who have traveled in and out of conflict zones or come from areas where there is a high incidence of terrorism, banning anyone, including those of Muslim faith is wrong. Imposing religious tests on those wishing to enter our nation goes against everything our nation was founded on.
Q) Specifically, how would you have, or how did you, vote on the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act of 2015 and its efforts to make it harder for Syrian and Iraqi refugees to enter the U.S.? Please explain your position.
A) As a member of Congress, I would have voted against the SAFE Act of 2015. Our nation’s security remains an absolute priority. Critical safeguards and vetting must be in place for refugees and visitors alike. At the same time, we must not allow terror and fear to guide us. We must strike a balance and uphold the values that make us who we are: a nation of so many refugees, of people who left war, strife and persecution to make better lives for themselves and their families. It’s what makes our nation great and it’s what keeps us human. The situation in Syria is a tragedy, with refugees young and old trying to find safety. Over 11 million people have been displaced from Syria, more than half of who are children. As Europe and so many other parts of the world work to provide safe havens, we as a nation need to do our part as well. Now is not the time to turn our backs on thousands of desperate families.
Q) Do you support a Syrian no-fly zone or the U.S. enforcement of Syrian humanitarian safe zones? Why or why not?
A) The Syrian people are facing a humanitarian crisis of monumental proportions and should be able to have a zone in which to receive food and medical care without the constant threat of barrel bombs. We should work with our allies to enforce humanitarian safe zones in Syria. These zones would provide protection and a safe route for those delivering and receiving humanitarian emergency aid. In addition, this protection will help alleviate the crisis on the ground, curtail human rights abuses, and weaken threats by ISIS in the area. Though a significant challenge to create and maintain, a no-fly zone should be considered for humanitarian purposes.
Q) Regarding the House Benghazi Select Committee, should its investigation remain open-ended, or should the panel be given a deadline to complete its work? Please explain.
A) The panel should clearly be given a deadline to complete its work. Having had months of opportunity to conduct its investigation and analyze the findings, as with any other major inquiry, there needs to be a conclusion and recommended action supported by actual discoveries.
Q) What measures, if any, do you support to give U.S. authorities access to encrypted or “dark web” communications about potential terrorist plots? Please explain.
A) As technology companies have strengthened encryption, we know that terrorists currently have the ability to communicate in dark web spaces and on platforms that intelligence authorities cannot see. Steps need to be taken to actively engage and work with technology businesses to allow government access to the dark web with appropriate legal oversight. The critical issue, however, is that once governments receive backdoor keys, increased opportunities to hack will also exist, security will be more easily breached and communications will move to another platform. With ever-changing technology, the cyber-war of today will be different tomorrow. In the process of maintaining our intelligence, we need to be cognizant of potential unintended security risks while pursuing our goals of protecting our world.
Q) Do you support transferring the detention of terrorism suspects from Guantanamo Bay to the United States? Why or why not?
A) Yes, as a nation built upon constitutional rights, we need to fairly apply those rights to prisoners within our control. We have been at the forefront of global conversations concerning human rights and the rights of prisoners throughout the world and it is incumbent upon us to lead by example. We should treat those prisoners as we would expect other countries to treat our citizens. Moreover, the resources used to keep Guantanamo open and the continuation of this issue on a global scale only serves to diminish our strength as a voice in the conversation of humane prisoner treatment.
Q) What is the single most important action Congress can take to reduce U.S. gun violence?
A) As a Mayor and mom of four sons, I worry about the safety of our children and our neighbors in the wake of the increase in mass gun violence. It is well past time for Congress to take action to reduce the gun violence that threatens our nation’s safety. When given the opportunity to pass an assault weapon ban, I had the courage to lead the charge and pass one of the few local assault weapons bans in the nation. In the face of threats from the NRA and its allies from around the country, we took action and refused to back down, having our ordinance upheld at the U.S. Supreme Court. While one piece of legislation is not going to prevent every gun violence tragedy, with courageous leadership, we can take action and protect American lives from potential mass violence and grief. As a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, I strongly believe that it is critical that appropriate and uniform laws are created across the nation. Discrepancies between state laws and the enforcement of laws are leading to the flow of illegal gun trafficking into our cities and our neighborhoods. Specifically, a handful of states and dealers are responsible for the vast majority of illegal guns currently on our streets. By establishing a national standard of universal background checks, dealer licensing requirements that close gun show and internet loopholes, and providing the resources for strict enforcement of the law, the flow of illegal guns can be diminished and violence can be reduced.
Q) Do you support or oppose the ‘‘Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act?” Please explain your position.
A) I support the bi-partisan Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015. We need to prevent individuals on the Federal Terrorist Watchlist from being able to purchase firearms and explosives that may be used in connection with terrorism. This act is a common step sense to protect our nation from terrorism.
Q) Do you believe there is scientific evidence of climate change, and is it caused by human activity? What is your position on the Paris climate change agreement?
A) As a decades-long environmental advocate, I recognize that climate change represents a significant threat to the world today. Human influence on climate change is clear. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems. In Congress, I will add a rational voice to the conversation, working to pass common-sense legislation that helps the United States work towards a more sustainable future in ways that improve our environment and our economy. As recent labor announcements show, clean energy jobs are outpacing conventional energy jobs. By cleaning our air and creating jobs, the United States has the capacity to lead the rest of the world. As the Mayor of a city located on the shores of Lake Michigan, I am particularly sensitive and committed to protecting the Great Lakes, one of the world’s greatest natural resources. It is crucial to ensure fresh, clean drinking water and a healthy ecosystem for generations to come. I have taken action, from addressing toxic storm water run-off to improving water conservation awareness. Under my leadership, a plan was developed and is being implemented to encourage connectivity by foot and bike to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, ultimately diminishing emissions and our carbon footprint. I am proud of our city’s comprehensive Sustainability Work Plan, outlining ways in which we can each contribute to preserving the future of our planet. The Paris Climate Change Agreement is a win for all of us as 196 countries acknowledged our global obligation to take collective action to protect our fragile planet. This pact will allow us the opportunity to work together to face the challenges of climate change and turn them into solutions.
Q) What changes, if any, to the U.S. tax code do you support and why?
A) The U.S. tax code was originally created to provide revenue for our federal government with policy incentives to encourage certain positive outcomes for businesses and individuals, such as investing in capital to grow a business, or diminishing the costs of buying a house. Somewhere between the inception of the tax code and now, that mission and those incentives have been turned on their head. We now have an incredibly complicated system with loopholes that enable those who can afford expert advice to avoid paying their fair share and incentives that are not always reflective of policy goals. While Congress updates, changes and adds laws on an annual basis, the focus should be on simplifying the tax code, making it more transparent and creating a level playing field for individuals as well as small and emerging businesses. In addition to general tax code updates, I support reforming the corporate tax code to lower marginal tax rates. By doing so, we can encourage investment and job growth in the U.S. and diminish the incentives for businesses to flee to foreign jurisdictions. Congress should eliminate provisions that treat carried interest like capital gains, and instead tax it as ordinary income, reflecting its true financial character and use. A level playing field within the tax code is in the best interests of our nation both now and for the future. Credits like the earned income tax credit support every day Americans. Reforms including the elimination of deductions, credits and exemptions that are not economically justified, broadening the tax base, and ensuring that the interests of all Americans are protected, not just the wealthy, need to be enacted.
Q) What are the most important actions Congress can take to ensure the solvency of Social Security?
A) Protecting Social Security should be a crucial priority for Congress. Social Security is one of the most successful programs in history, providing a safety net that has kept millions of seniors, people with disabilities and their dependents out of poverty. Without this vital benefit, over 50% of American seniors would slide into poverty. Congress must ensure that the future of Social Security is protected. I support eliminating the taxable income cap. This one change would provide decades of increased solvency for the program. It is critical that we guarantee Social Security’s long-term solvency and security, so that this program can remain a cornerstone of the social contract with Americans for generations to come.
Q) Do you support a “risk fee” on big banks? Why or why not?
A) I support a risk fee on big banks because it penalizes banks for engaging in risky trading practices and for taking on too much debt. It is designed to stop reckless practices by large financial institutions, diminishing the risk of another banking crisis. As further protection, I support higher capital ratios for the largest, systematically important banks, and encourage bank regulators not to allow increased consolidation, furthering the “too big to fail” exposure.
Q) Should Obamacare be overturned, left intact, or changed — and if so how?
A) I strongly support the Affordable Care Act. It is disturbing that my opponent, Brad Schneider repeatedly sought to delay implementation of the ACA and cut critical funding for it via the medical device tax, and our current Congressman Bob Dold has voted over three dozen times to repeal it. Over 18 million Americans finally have access to health care services, no thanks to the two most recent Congressmen from the 10th District. I am especially supportive of provisions in the Affordable Care Act that prevent insurers from withholding health insurance from those with preexisting conditions and allow children to remain on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26. Although the Affordable Care Act is not perfect, I believe Congress should work to make improvements where possible and build on the success of the program, rather than waste resources on repeated efforts to repeal the program.
Q) Do you favor stripping federal funds from Planned Parenthood? Why or why not?
A) Absolutely not. As a progressive Democrat and long-time supporter of Planned Parenthood, I care deeply about women’s health care. A woman’s medical decisions are between her and her physician – not the government. I am committed to protecting the education, advocacy, policies and access to reproductive health services that Planned Parenthood provides. Planned Parenthood delivers vitally important health care and reproductive health services to anyone who needs them. The government should absolutely continue to support this important health care resource.
Q) President Obama used his executive powers to prevent the deportation of "DREAMers—youths who came to the U.S. illegally as children with their parents. Would you support legislation to prevent DREAMer deportations? Do you support putting DREAMers on a path to citizenship?
A) Comprehensive immigration reform that supports our economic goals and reflects our values as both a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants is long overdue. The United States is the great nation that it is because of the generations of immigrants who have strengthened our county and contributed to our economy. Our future depends on an immigration system that reflects our values and meets America’s needs. As a Mayor, I have been a tireless advocate for our immigrant families and created a local legal aid clinic to actively help our residents on their paths to citizenship. I strongly support legislation to prevent DREAMer deportations as well as putting DREAMers on a path to citizenship. The DREAM Act gives a promising future to young people who have grown up in our great nation and call it their home. We need to work to keep families together by protecting young people who are successful in their educations, the military or in their careers. DREAMers should be protected and allowed to remain in the U.S. while we ensure that they have a fair and legal path to citizenship.
Q) What congressional reforms do you favor to address America’s student loan crisis?
A) As the mother of four sons, I recognize the critical value of continuing education beyond high school. In Congress, I will work to make ongoing education, whether college or vocational training, available and affordable. Students should not enter the world after school burdened by unmanageable debt. Allowing student debt to be consolidated into lower interest loans is one step to reducing this economic burden. Additionally, as we have seen at the College of Lake County, providing mandatory student loan counseling diminishes overall student debt, as every student is counseled about how much and what types of loans are more easily managed. We need to provide opportunities for students to get the education they need and deserve. We should invest more in community and public colleges, universities, technical training, and increase grant availability. I also support the Student Loan Debt Forgiveness program, incentivizing people to work in public service by diminishing their student debt.
District running for: Illinois 10th Congressional District
• Two-term Mayor, City of Highland Park, IL (2011-Present) • Council Member, City of Highland Park, IL (2009-2011) • Precinct 222 Democratic Committeeman (2006-present) • Founder, Highland Park/Highwood Legal Aid Clinic • Founder, Highland Park Environmental Education Program • Board Member: Lurie Children’s Hospital Foundation, Ravinia Women’s Board, Community. The Anti-Drug • Actively involved in many organizations including: Northwest Municipal Conference Legislative Committee, Northwestern University Leadership Council, Personal PAC, Sierra Club, League of Women Voters, National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), and Highland Park-Highwood Rotary • Former Cub Scout Master Pack 34, Co-President Braeside PTO, and youth soccer coach
Occupation: Mayor, City of Highland Park
Education: Stanford University, BA Economics Northwestern University (Kellogg School of Management), MBA University of Chicago Law School, JD
Nancy Rotering is endorsed by the Sun-Times. Read the endorsement.