Windy City Times sat down with Sam Yingling, an openly gay candidate for the Illinois House ( 62nd District ) , to talk about his background and discuss his views on a variety of issues ahead of the March 20 primary. ( Yingling doesn't have a primary challenger. )
NOTE: View downloadable election guide charts at the following link. This election chart was updated online on Tuesday March 13 with corrections and updates. www.windycitymediagroup.com/pdf/WCT_2012_primarychartsforweb.pdf .
Windy City Times: Tell me a little bit about yourself outside of politics.
Sam Yingling: I do a lot of community service work with organizations, like Mano A Mano Family Resource Center, an organization committed to improving the lives of the immigrant population, and the Round Lake Beach Cultural and Civic Center Foundation.
WCT: Is this the first time you've run for office?
Sam Yingling: I previously ran for Avon Township Supervisor and won that race. I currently hold that elected office.
WCT: What made you decide to run for state office this year?
Sam Yingling: After attending DePaul University to study urban planning and public policy administration, I saw a lot of opportunity for smart and ecologically sound development in Lake County. I decided to move back to the area to work with my family's real-estate business. [ Yingling's family previously owned a restaurant in the 1970s. ]
From there, I became involved with local government and the Round Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. In the process, I discovered how bloated and unnecessary townships are to local municipalities. The Illinois Township Code also limits what townships can do so as Avon Township Supervisor I went to Springfield, Ill to work on this issue.
While I was in Springfield, I became more aware of my own state representative and her lack of leadership. With the state of Illinois is facing the largest financial crisis in its history I decided to run against her this year to provide the district with the leadership it was lacking.
WCT: What cities/towns make up the 62nd District?
Sam Yingling: Round Lake Beach and Grayslake make up about 80 percent of the district. The rest of the district is [ composed ] of Hainesville and parts of Third Lake, Wildwood, Gurnee and Wauconda.
WCT: On your campaign website, it says that you returned part of your salary as Avon township supervisor.
Sam Yingling: I made a commitment to give back my pay raises ( which were put in place by the previous administration ) each year, and I have honored that commitment. I have given back about $25,000 over the course of my term of office. That money has been used to fund operational costs of the township and the local food pantry.
WCT: As a gay candidate in the Round Lake Beach area, have you experienced any resistance to your candidacy?
Sam Yingling: No.
WCT: If you win your race, will you sign on as a co-sponsor to the bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois?
Sam Yingling: I support the marriage-equality bill that was recently introduced and would also sign on as a co-sponsor.
WCT: Do you favor the current federal hate-crimes law? How about a federal ENDA law? Overturning DOMA [ the Defense of Marriage Act ] so same-sex marriage can be legal nationwide? LGBT people becoming foster parents and/or adopting children?
Sam Yingling: Yes, I do support the recently enacted federal hate crimes law. I think that the government should provide protections to any type of minority group ( including the LGBT community ) .
A federal ENDA law is necessary to protect workers in states that would never provide protections to their LGBT workers.
DOMA needs to be repealed so couples who are legally married in states that recognize same-sex marriage can access the same federal benefits that opposite-sex couples already receive nationwide.
Anyone who is willing and able to provide a loving home for a child should be able to adopt or become a foster parent including LGBT people.
WCT: What are your positions on abortion, comprehensive sex education and teaching LGBT history as a part of the social studies curriculum?
Sam Yingling: As far as I am concerned the abortion issue was settled years ago with Roe v. Wade. I don't believe that government should be in the business of dictating what any woman can or can't do with her own body.
Comprehensive sex education is needed because an abstinence-only policy doesn't work and actually generates more problems for society.
Anybody or any movement that makes a contribution to society ( including LGBT people and events ) needs to be acknowledged from an historical perspective and should be taught as a part of the Social Studies curriculum.
WCT: Last year Illinois cut eligibility for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program ( ADAP ) , a public program that makes HIV medications available to uninsured or underinsured persons. Do you support increasing funding for ADAP in order to meet this need?
Sam Yingling: I believe that anyone who needs medication should absolutely have it. If local municipalities are consolidated money can be freed up to fund programs like ADAP.
WCT: Do you support increased funding for cost-effective HIV-prevention strategies such as condom distribution? If so, how would you propose doing that in light of possible budget cuts?
Sam Yingling: Yes. Developing collaborative relationships with organizations specializing in HIV/AIDS treatment along with other governmental entities so there is a mix of private organizations and tax dollars funding this initiative.
WCT: What do you feel is the most pressing issue for the LGBT community?
Sam Yingling: Continuing to work to fight the notion that separate is equal.
See www.samyingling.com .