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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



ELECTIONS 2020 ILLINOIS STATE REP Malone on reform, LGBT concerns, taxes
by Matt Simonette

This article shared 1897 times since Sun Mar 1, 2020
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Chicagoan Marty Malone was one of the first entrants into the now crowded race to capture the 12th District state rep's seat that was vacated by state Sen. Sara Fiegenholtz and is now being held by activist Yoni Pizer through the next term ( he's running to then keep the slot ).

The openly gay Malone had anticipated a race against Feigenholtz when he entered the race, building a platform centered largely around property-tax reform—he wants to see property tax increases capped at 5 percent. But when Feigenholtz departed, several other candidates entered the race.

Malone spoke about his hopes for reform and the role of legislators in advocacy, among other issues, with Windy City Times.

Windy City Times: How has the campaign been going for you?

Marty Malone: Good. It started in mid-September. There were only two of us who [initially] challenged Sara. Since that happened, with Cullerton resigning, there were others who entered, and it's a completely different race from when I started. But it's been going well.

My main thing has been to be grass-roots, trying to meet as many people as possible. I was the only one who collected all my own signatures. They did get challenged [Malone won the challenge]. But I've been meeting people at train stops, grocery stores, trying to meet as many people as possible.

WCT: You limited how much you would accept in contributions, but some of your opponents, such as Yoni Pizer, have strong financial backing. What has that been like for you?

MM: It's kind of interesting. I capped my own contributions at $312, and it's been fine. I never envisioned having a huge staff. I always thought it was going to be a David-and-Goliath thing—me and a core group of friends going out there. Honestly, the money I have raised hasn't been much but it's been enough to pay for all my fliers and stuff—that's all I need. If I can pay for coffee for my volunteers, that's great but I realized early on that I'd never be in people's mailboxes, which is kind of important in this area. So I'm trying to use [having only] a little money to my advantage. You can always flip it and say that they have way too much money and try to get money out of politics. I'm more creative with fewer resources.

WCT: What drew you to challenge Feigenholtz in the first place?

MM: I was Cook County director of community affairs, and my role was basically helping people with their property taxes. I would host workshops twice a year in every ward office—there were 11 wards in my district. This past year, people were decimated. Property taxes skyrocketed—30, 40, 50 percent—and I was sitting across from people who were in tears. They had to move and sell their place.

The property tax system is super-flawed. It's getting better—Fritz Kaegi is doing a good job—but I got into this race because I felt no one was really caring about this issue and no one was doing anything.

[My proposed] 5-percent property tax cap would make sure that property taxes would never shoot past five percent annually. That is my number one priority—I felt like even if I was going against a "Goliath," I needed this issue to be out there in the forefront. I needed more people talking about it, because people were really, really hurting in this area.

WCT: Such a plan would require many reforms to come to pass as well. What do you foresee as a viable plan of action?

MM: First would be the cap itself. No one is going to have their taxes go up 50 percent again.

Schools and pensions are taking down the state's economy, pensions mostly. I am a full believer in trying to open up the constitution and put some reforms into the pension clause. So many good things were passed in 2013, but then the [state] Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional. Since then, I don't think anything's really been tried.

I'm for trying anything to fix this whole pension issue too. Obviously that's not as sexy as "five percent property-tax cap"—that's what I always start with. … You have to follow up with the pensions and the school districts. … There's definitely the will there—it's just getting people who are going to focus on these issues to get something done.

The other issue with the district is that our entire eastern border is Lake Michigan. Just miles up north in Rogers Park, the shoreline was basically decimated. That's really, really scary. I always tell people that I can never envision myself living more than six blocks from where I live right now—I love the area and I love the lakefront. If our lakefront just starts going away because of climate change? So that's a big issue with me.

WCT: What do you think are pressing issues for LGBT folks in the district?

MM: In terms of women's rights, LGBT rights—and even energy—when I envision the state rep's role, I don't think I'm the coming up with ideas. I'm looking towards groups well-respected groups in the area. I'd look towards Equality Illinois. I'd look towards Howard Brown. I'd look to AIDS Foundation of Chicago. They already have policy teams. I'm good friends with many of them. In my old job, we worked super-closely.

It wasn't a state rep who came up with the curriculum bill … it was Equality Illinois [and allies] who went to these reps and looked for fighters and I would 100 percent be a fighter for issues like that.

WCT: LGBT candidates have been speaking more about issues affecting the trans community. Have you had any discussions about that or specific thoughts, perhaps about violence towards trans persons?

MM: I was a graduate of the Chicago Police Department's Citizen's Academy. Just recently all police had to take classes in how to work with these communities. I think that's a great step. … Having the police officer come at an angle of respect and compassion would be huge. I think homeless youth would be an issue as well. I would 100 percent support Center on Halsted with anything I could there.

Honestly, it's hard for me because [at this point] I know one trans person. I would hope that, were I elected, people would be able to come to me, and [we work towards building] a coalition and I would just listen. There needs to be much less talking at and much more listening to what these folks are going through. I can't even imagine the types of things that they go through.

WCT: We had two years without a budget, leading to a decimation of many social-service services. Agencies left behind have been playing playing catch up ever since. What would you do as a state rep to make sure something like that wouldn't happen again?

MM: That was an absolute joke, not having a budget for so long. And even when budgets do get passed, there are deficits. Having a zero-based budget, year after year—I don't understand how that is hard to do. There's 118 state reps and 59 state senators. Out of that group with smart, educated and savvy people, how we can't have a balanced budget every year, to make sure that never happens again, is wild. I would 100 percent be for working towards a zero based budget, year after year.

In terms of how [the state] screwed up so royally, we lost trust with a lot of people. That's a shame. I don't know how to rebuild that, besides just fixing the issue and saying, "We have a new law and that's never going to happen again."

… In terms of LGBT issues, I don't think it's right for state representatives to come up with the ideas and say [up front] "I'm going to get these through." We have to these outside [advocacy groups] doing all the work, and they just need some outside help to get it to law. I travelled with Equality Illinois last year to Springfield for lobby day. It was the curriculum bill, and the gender-neutral bathroom bill. I loved the work do. Nothing would be getting done with the work that they do. Just realizing that, and letting people and groups know that I would be 100 percent on their side, following their direction [is important]. I would support them and be there for them.

See .

This article shared 1897 times since Sun Mar 1, 2020
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