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State Senate District 11

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  • Candidate picture

    Mary Ellen "Mari" Brown
    (DIA)

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    Celina Villanueva
    (Dem)

Biographical Information

How would you address Illinois' revenue shortfall, especially in light of COVID-19, including plans to raise more revenue and how to prioritize spending?

Do you support the Fair Tax (graduated rate income tax) amendment?

What measures will you support for equitable redistricting?

What is your position on vote by mail and would you support a universal vote by mail for Illinois?

Campaign Phone (773) 581-7815
I believe Illinois needs to be more proactive to help families most in need during this pandemic, a once and done approach is not going to help families as the pandemic continues. A strategy to pivot spending towards people and projects most in need is a priority. Revenue short falls are not new in Illinois, but I do believe a more business-friendly approach to the state as a whole will generate more income not just for today but for generations to come.
I am not a supporter of the graduated rate income tax simply for the fact that is a major amendment to the Illinois constitution, and is not written as it is being advertised to Illinoisans. The legislation is too vague, commercials are leading people with false narratives and promises. Of the 18 billionaires in Illinois, 6 of them are Pritzker's, so if this is the only way to save Illinois; as governor, shouldn't Pritzker and his family just write a check?
The gerrymandering that takes place is meant to help politicians more than it does the communities that should have real representation. Our district specifically, State Senate district 11 is a good example of this. Real representation needs to be a voice for the majority of the district they serve, the elected official's personal agenda should not be priority. Case in point, current Senator Villanueva (who has never been elected, but uses "re-elect" on her campaign) wants to defund police and abolish ICE; Senator Villanueva represents a district with a large amount of government, first responders, city workers residing in the district. It is a slap in the face to her constituents.
Vote by mail is a necessity in 2020, and will need to be expanded on. This year of a pandemic, so many residents felt a sense of relief of being able to stay safe and vote by mail. Drop in mail ballot boxes at every location would help a lot of residents feel more secure on the mail ballot process.
I think it is important to explore all available options to address the revenue shortfall this fiscal year that takes the burden off of working and middle class families. Spending cuts to programs that help under-resourced communities, children, youth or retirees, who have been heavily impacted by COVID-19, are not the answer.

We need to continue to advocate for Congress to pass a relief bill package that provides additional support for people that also includes relief for state & local governments. We also have to get creative about new revenue streams, like the Fair Tax, that would bring much needed revenue and strengthen our ability to fund infrastructure and services critical to the health and stability of communities in Illinois.
I am a supporter of the Fair Tax because families across the state and in my district are forced to make painful choices between whether to put away funds for retirement, send their kids to college, take care of aging parents, pay their mortgage or property taxes, or pay for medical bills and costly prescription drugs. It is not fair that working and middle-class families continue to bear the brunt of the burden for taxes in Illinois. It is time for millionaires and billionaires to stop taking advantage and start paying their fair share.
I firmly believe in having an equitable process for redistricting. A bipartisan approach is imperative in order to have transparency but we also have to acknowledge that it took historic legislation like the Voting Rights Act, to be able to make headway on representation. As well as the work of advocates who have fought for maps that provide real representation for underrepresented communities.

I will continuously fight for a redistricting process that works for the people and ensures equitable representation, especially for minority populations that have been historically underrepresented. For a truly representative democracy, it is important that as communities grow in numbers, representation is also reflected in government.
Prior to joining the General Assembly, my work focused on empowering immigrant communities through civic participation and amplifying the voices often not heard in the chambers of power, which is why I worked to get important pieces of legislation like Online Voter Registration, Same Day/Election Day Registration and Automatic Voter Registration passed.

Voting by mail is a safe process that should be expanded because it provides registered voters with the flexibility to exercise their right to vote. In the time of COVID-19 it is also imperative that we expand opportunities for people to have their voices heard at the ballot box in a safe and secure manner.