Position sought: State Senate, 28th District.
Campaign contact information:
PO Box 647, Park Ridge, IL 60068
Age and Birthdate: 60, June 27, 1951.
Family: O’Donnell lives in Park Ridge, Illinois with his wife Martha. They have been married for 38 years. He has two sons, Bryan and Conor.
Education: He graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting with high honors.
Occupation: Chief Financial Officer.
Political Party: Republican.
Previous Elected or Appointed Offices: None.
Is there any additional experience you believe qualifies you for the position?
I have been a very active business community advocate as the Vice Chairperson on the Government Relations Committee of the Tooling and Manufacturing Association (TMA). My civic activities include the Park Ridge Soccer (PRS) Board of Directors for 17 years, student mentor at Springwood Middle School in Keeneyville District 20, National MS Society volunteer and fundraiser and Chicago Marathon Volunteer.
What would your priorities be if elected to this office?
Campaign issue 1:
I believe we must repeal the 2011 increase in the state income tax passed by the Democrat controlled legislature and signed by our Democrat governor. It should be noted that this District’s incumbent Democrat Senator Dan Kotowski also supported the increase. That tax increase and the general mindset among Democrats that Illinois can tax and borrow as the way to balance the budget is the reason I believe incumbents who voted for this ill-advised tax hike need to be replaced.
Campaign issue 2:
Create a positive economic climate for the State of Illinois so that existing businesses are not forced to leave and new businesses begin to consider Illinois as a place to start up or expand. Currently, we are in a downward spiral with businesses and people leaving the state. This erodes our tax base. By creating a better business climate, we can reverse this spiral and over time, heal our economy.
Campaign issue 3:
Through my actions and behavior, I will attempt to restore belief in the honesty and integrity of government and government officials. People need to believe that their elected officials aren’t just seeking office to accumulate power, wealth or status. I am seeking office to run the government in the most ethical and efficient manner possible. As a citizen legislator, I will serve the interests of the people of my district and Illinois, not special or personal interests.
What sets you apart from the other candidates?
As an executive in the manufacturing industry and the former owner of my own business, I think I have the experience to help make the Illinois business climate more attractive to the people who decide whether or not to come to Illinois, or whether or not to flee Illinois. The problem we have right now is we are forced to give incentives to convince existing businesses to stay, which is the exact opposite of our true goal. Businesses trying to escape are not the best marketing campaign for attracting new businesses and jobs.
Providing my fellow legislators and administration officials with the perspective of the business owner will curb some of the pro-tax and anti-business legislation which is counterproductive in the long run. When the government makes it difficult for businesses to succeed, they often shut down or leave the state. Without the tax base provided by profits and wages, the State will continue on a downward fiscal spiral from which it cannot recover.
Official name of your campaign committee (if you have one):
Friends of Jim O'Donnell.
What should first be done by the state to keep businesses that have strongly voiced the possibility of leaving, such as CME and Sears?
I want to repeal the 67% income tax increase. The tax increase is a business and job killer, and the amount collected is offset by the revenue lost from the businesses and jobs that are lost.
What can be done to help College Illinois?
I would need to examine the specific problems affecting the college before commenting publicly.
What should the government do to create more jobs?
The key to attracting and keeping businesses in Illinois is to establish just enough taxes, restrictions and regulatory oversight to fund and protect the interests of the people. In a free market, employers will sink or swim on their own. If you ask any business owner whether he would rather have the government help them or leave them alone, the answer is invariably “just leave us alone.” Business leaders have absolutely no confidence in the ability of Illinois leadership to proactively improve the business climate.
The ever-increasing tax and fee burden on Illinois businesses and individuals is driving businesses and people out of Illinois. The total tax burden (income tax, sales tax, property tax, personal property replacement tax, estate tax, and various excise taxes) in Illinois is one of the highest in the nation. The taxes and fees in Illinois have been increasing while incomes in Illinois remain flat, or in many cases, are declining. This creates an enormous hardship for businesses and individuals. We need to find ways to reduce this tax burden and reverse the downward spiral of people and businesses leaving the state, eroding our tax base in the process.
What are your philosophies on social issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion, and what should government’s role be in those issues?
While there are a number of issues with moral implications that are the main focus of select voters, I believe our immediate focus must be on the critical task of stabilizing our state’s fiscal affairs.
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 don’t think gaming is a desirable way to generate revenue for the State of Illinois, but I do recognize that it is not going away and it does generate economic activity and provides a form of entertainment that assists the tourism and convention industries.
I do not support video gaming in every liquor and/or eating establishment and I do not support slot machines at our airports. I do not support expansion of gaming beyond what can be effectively regulated by the State Gaming Commission. As a practical matter, I believe there should be a properly regulated casino in Chicago, and casinos placed strategically at the Wisconsin and Indiana borders to prevent Illinois gamblers from losing their money to the benefit of neighboring states. In addition, we should follow the lead of other states in protecting the horse racing industry by allowing either slots at the tracks or a revenue sharing arrangement with the casinos.
What do you suggest for property tax relief?
I think property tax reform should be in the form of setting floor limits for the reduction of property assessments so that politically connected / financially generous property owners (and their lawyers) cannot get excessive reduction in EAV’s which unfairly burden the remaining property tax payers. This would apply to the Assessors, the Boards of Review and PTAB. I am certain a basic formula can be established which would set the base for all residential, commercial and industrial property under which no “tax break” could go.
Should the state consider consolidating school districts? What would be the best way to accomplish this in your legislative district?
School district consolidation is a great goal but is expensive and complicated, just like the merger of corporations. It is not only the administrative system that has to be merged, but millions of dollars in assets, physical plants, debt and contractual obligations.
Consolidation will not happen overnight. I believe we need to first make it easier for school districts to consolidate on their own, without direct intervention from the state. Right now it is a bureaucratic nightmare to consolidate school districts. We should let voters decide, by referendum, whether or not they want to consolidate their local districts. Many units of government have already begun some form of consolidation. We simply need to make it easier for school districts to do the same.
Should the state legalize marijuana?
I need to examine further the medical analysis of the benefits of medicinal marijuana. I do not want to deny legitimate medical products to those suffering from cancer, but the system for monitoring distribution needs to be examined.
Are there ways to reform the legislative scholarship program, or would you support calls to eliminate the program?
I have promised to opt out of the program and vote to abolish it.
Who are your political heroes and why?
Former Illinois Republican U.S. Senator Everett Dirksen, who made the famous quote, "A billion here, a billion there and pretty soon, you are talking about real money."
Have you ever been convicted of a felony, sued successfully or had a restraining order placed against you? If so, please explain.