Theresa Raborn for Congress
What Can Congresswoman Raborn Do for Black Illinoisans?
What Can Congresswoman Raborn Do for Black Illinoisans?
Real questions from a real organization and the real answers Theresa Raborn submitted.
#1: Describe the funding sources for your campaign and what do they reveal about your priorities as a politician. Are there any donors that you have refused to receive funding from?
ANSWER: I have not taken any PAC money. Most of my donations have come from the people of IL-02. Often it is cash. It's incredibly humbling to have someone empty out their wallet when I only asked for a $5 donation. My priorities are 100% focused on the people of my district, not any entity (PAC) who wants to control me. I am controlled only by God, the Constitution, and THE PEOPLE of IL-02.
#2: Legislative-What are your plans to address the systemic poverty that results in pervasive gun violence throughout Chicagoland’s Black communities?
ANSWER: Our communities and families have been under a constant, coordinated, systemic attack on the family structure, via lack of high-paying entry-level jobs, abysmal K-12 education, and no accountability for the criminals. When you lack these three things (good jobs, great education, and safe streets), hope in any future evaporates and “living in the moment” is all that matters because tomorrow is merely a dream. This leads to violence and criminal activity. This is a heart and soul problem. I have numerous bills and solutions to heal the heart and soul, so our families and communities can see a brilliant future and stop the carnage we see today. (Educating For Success Bill, REST Bill, FUND Bill, and more)
Specifically to the gun violence, the biggest deterrent is a potential victim who is armed. Most criminals will avoid breaking into a home with locked doors, a security system, a dog, and/or a gun owner. I support law-abiding citizens have access to their 2nd Amendment right to defend themselves. My 2A for All Bill provides that access for low-income, LAW-ABIDING citizens who pass a background check. Money should not be a barrier to YOU being able to protect and defend yourself, your family, or your property.
We also have a problem with not prosecuting criminals, even for gun violations. The victims of crime need justice. What good are more gun control laws, if we are not prosecuting people who violate our current gun control laws? The words on the paper have no meaning without enforcement of those words.
#3: Legislative-What is your Black Agenda? In other words, what are the three legislative policies that you will implement specifically to uplift Black communities throughout the state of Illinois?
ANSWER: Pardon me for selecting four. Our Black communities are being attacked on multiple fronts, which requires responses from multiple angles. Multi-faceted challenges require multiple, coordinated solutions. On the "Jobs and the Economy" page of my website, I lay out numerous ways to bring high-paying, entry-level jobs into the district.
On my Education page I lay out several bills to overhaul K-12 education, make our classrooms safe, and provide educational choice. My Educating For Success Bill is a detailed plan to ensure no child slips through the cracks because there will be NO cracks for them to slip through. It provides an individualized curriculum, focused on mastery of the material, where grades are not used as reward/punishment, but as a gauge to determine when the child is ready to move on to the next unit/chapter of each subject. It also broadens the scheduling options so education can fit in the modern family structures. Success in school is key to keeping our youth out of gangs and away from criminal activity.
My REST (Rehabilitative Earn-out Sentencing Time) Bill turns prison time into an opportunity to learn new skills and
rehabilitate so the person leaving prison is far better than the one who entered. It includes mental health counseling, education, job training, relationship training, life skills, spiritual guidance, and volunteerism. This will help to stop the revolving door of our criminal [in]justice system, which has disproportionately affected black communities.
My FUND (Fundamental Urban New Deal) Bill is a 10-point plan to revitalize our urban areas. It provides mentorships for a wide variety of areas: youth (up to age 25 and beyond), young couples, entrepreneurs, parenting, and much more. It provides better access to birth control, incentives for minority-owned businesses, mental health, and more.
#4: Legislative-What is your Black Agenda? In other words, what are the three legislative policies that you will implement specifically to uplift Black communities throughout the state of Illinois?
ANSWER: This is the exact question from #3. Please see my answer for Question #3. Thank you.
#5: Sentencing reveals stark racial disparities, with 70% of those serving life-without-parole sentences for nonviolent offenses in Illinois being Black. Releases during COVID-19 have also revealed stark racial disparities, with White inmates being more likely to be released for their own safety. How will you use your platform to address this discrepancy? How would you use your position to shift these trends?
ANSWER: I believe the time spent in prison should be more flexible, with the inmate playing a bigger part in when he or she will be released. My REST (Rehabilitative Earn-out Sentencing Time) Bill requires the inmate to complete a series of objectives and obtain a series of skills in order to be released. The list will be different for each inmate, based on his or her own background. For instance, a person without a high school diploma would be required to obtain his or her GED.
We would have a minimum sentence for each offense, but the time served beyond the minimum will be up to the inmate. The inmate who actively engages in the rehabilitative process (objectives and skills mentioned above), will be released far earlier than the one who refuses to rehabilitate and better himself or herself. This process would greatly reduce recidivism (recommitting crime) and stop the revolving door.
A person’s time in prison should be an opportunity to grow as a person, gain knowledge, and prepare for successful reintegration back into the community. My vision is that people will leave prison ready, willing, and capable of contributing to the community in a positive way.
#6: Judicial-What do you perceive as your role in addressing Chicago’s pervasive gun violence?
ANSWER: The gun is merely a tool. In the hands of evil, it becomes an instrument of torture and death. In the hands of good, it becomes a life-saving instrument. Murder begins in the heart of the person. Our gun violence problem stems from broken families, failing schools, a lack of high-paying jobs, and the systemic removal of faith from our daily lives.
My role is to bring high-paying jobs into the district and provide bills and policies to 1) strengthen our families, 2) dramatically improve our schools, 3) reform our criminal [in]justice system, 4) support our faith leaders in our communities, and 5) revitalize our urban areas which are at the most risk. We need to cure this at the root.
Some of those policies have been discussed in questions 2, 3, and 5.
#7: Judicial-Do you support restorative justice practices? Do you support Redeploy and other programs that divert young people away from the juvenile justice system?
ANSWER: Yes, but it depends on the crime. I studied restorative justice programs when I was in college, obtaining my Bachelors in Criminal Justice. I found it as interesting and innovative back then as I do today. Restorative Justice works best with lower level crimes. For serious felonies, I believe the person who committed the crime needs to be evaluated to determine his or her ability to be rehabilitated. This is always a balance between rehabilitating the criminal vs public safety, so these cases must be on a case-by-case basis.
#8: What’s your position on movements that seek to defund the police?
ANSWER: Although we should remain vigilant to root out the bad apples in law enforcement, we still need the police. They provide a vital service to our communities. We need more police/community engagement to strengthen the communication and trust between the police and the communities they serve. We need more money for body cams, more training, and more community relationship building. How can defunding the police improve law enforcement? If you had to do the same job for less pay, would you worker harder or not as hard?
Crime victims need the police there when they are in danger. Defunding the police will only embolden criminals and put our vulnerable families, friends, and neighbors at risk of harm. The police do not just catch criminals. They also do welfare checks on our vulnerable neighbors, provide coverage for the paramedics and fire department so they can reach you when you need medical care or have a fire.
#9: Legislative-What are your plans for addressing Black maternal morbidity? How do you plan to hold hospitals accountable for their poor birth outcomes for Black women?
ANSWER: My Freedom Health Bill lowers cost and improves the quality of healthcare by holding healthcare providers accountable to the people through free market competition. Everyone, regardless of his or her economic status or zip, has a right to quality healthcare. When we improve the quality of healthcare overall, the quality of maternal healthcare will improve for everyone, especially Black mothers. We also must educate doctors in Black communities of the extra risks for Black mothers, so they can monitor Black mothers more and ensure they are getting the care they need.
When I was pregnant with our twins, it escalated very quickly and I was admitted into the hospital at 32 ½ weeks with Pre-eclampsia. My twins were delivered via emergency c-section at 33 weeks, 1 day. One twin was Frank breech (buttocks in place to be delivered first) and the other twins was transverse (horizontal). If it weren’t for modern science and great insurance, both twins and I would have died. This is very personal for me. Every mom and every baby should have a safe pregnancy and birth.
#10: Given that COVID-19 has left many women and children in abusive environments more vulnerable than ever, how do you plan to combat domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual violence within Black communities, as the pandemic continues?
ANSWER: I’m glad I am not the only one bringing up these specific situations! I have been speaking out about the dramatic spikes in child abuse and domestic violence since the COVID-19 shutdowns began. Although COVID-19 is real and very dangerous, we can re-open our businesses and schools in a safe manner. We must do that because reopening allows those most at risk of abuse (women and children) to leave their abusive environments and be in safe areas where other people can identify potential abuse and intervene (teachers, coworkers, supervisors, customers, etc).
For the long term, we must engage our faith communities in being more actively involved with families. When a person has a strong spiritual support system, a strong family (and extended family), and a strong connection to the community, he or she has resources to escape those abusive situations. Supporting a strong family unit is key and as a Christian wife and mother, I fully support strong family values and a healthy family structure. I spoke at a Black Families Matter rally in Flossmoor in July. The Black family has been attacked for decades, by horrible policies. We must reverse this by teaching our youth how to have healthy relationships and implementing policies to strengthen and support families.
Victims of domestic abuse, child abuse, and sexual violence must be surrounded with acceptance, care, and love. We must make sure they receive the justice they deserve by arresting and convicting the perpetrators. Victims should never have to suffer in silence or alone.
#11: Legislative-What do you plan to do to meet budget shortfalls in the state of Illinois?
ANSWER: I will be serving in the United States House, not the Illinois General Assembly. As such, I will not have much control over the State of Illinois budget. However, I do have a Fair & Balanced Budget Bill to deal with the federal government’s budget. It requires that Congress cannot approve a budget more than 90% of the estimated revenue, leaving the other 10% of revenue to pay down our national debt. However, the bill also provides the method to achieve this objective in a bipartisan manner.
I am already advising some of my counterparts at the state level to draft and adopt a similar bill for the State of Illinois. It’s time for our government to start living and operating below its means! Our children are counting on us to not saddle them with catastrophic debt.
#12: Judicial- How will you be approaching cannabis-related offenses?
ANSWER: It depends on the offense. First, cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, even though many states have legalized it. Federal law supersedes state law due to Article V of the United States Constitution. Second, there is a difference between people charged with possession and using cannabis vs people illegally selling cannabis.
The War of Drugs has proven to be a failure. Addiction is more widespread than ever. I see the addict as someone who is sick and needs medical treatment, not a criminal in need of punishment. The person illegally selling cannabis is basically an unlicensed business. I view the illegal seller as a person giving medical advice without a medical license or a person giving legal advice without a law degree.
We do need an open discussion on cannabis, its dangers, and its benefits. Scientific research is always being updated and we need to revisit our evaluations on many different “drugs”. Our criminal codes need to be updated to reflect current science on this matter. There are “illegal” drugs that may not be as harmful as once thought and there are “legal” drugs (medications) that were once considered safe, but modern science proves they are harmful. I think we should revisit our drug classifications every 10 or 20 years to update the list based on updated scientific research and data.
#13: Legislative- How will you ensure equity remains a priority in the cannabis industry? How do you believe that revenue from cannabis-related sales should be used?
ANSWER: When a state issues licenses for the cannabis industry, people with a previous cannabis charge should be able to go through training before being allowed to get a license, but they should not be barred from obtaining a license. After all, these are the people who would know the cannabis industry best. They bring experience to the field. We just need to make sure they understand, and respect, the laws governing the legal sales of cannabis. Basically, we can turn those prior criminals into successful entrepreneurs, reducing the financial burden on the American People.
I believe that tax revenue from cannabis-related sales should only be used to construct and maintain long-term treatment facilities for addicts who are ready to recover from addiction. These facilities should be completely funded from the cannabis revenue, so the addict can get the help he or she needs regardless of his or her financial situation.
#14: Legislative-Do you support the IL Fair Tax Ballot initiative? Why or why not?
ANSWER: No. First, it does not set rates. Second, it gives the IL General Assembly carte blanche to set tax rates at their whim. It is like giving IL politicians a blank check. Third, it will not lower taxes for anyone, but will (supposedly) raise taxes on the wealthy. No one wins from this. The wealthy who are at risk will just pack up and leave Illinois, along with the tax money they currently pay. This will lead to less revenue, fewer businesses and fewer jobs in Illinois, resulting in more poverty.
We need to have a tax structure that makes Illinois attractive to businesses, so we can build up our economy. In Illinois, we do NOT have a revenue problem. We have a spending problem. I have my Fair & Balanced Budget Bill for the federal government. It calls for the government to live below its means, so we can put 10% of revenue towards the federal debt. However, it lays out how to accomplish this in an equitable, bipartisan manner. I would highly advise my counterparts in the Illinois General Assembly to read and adopt an Amendment to the Illinois Constitution similar to my Fair & Balanced Budget Bill.
#15: What do see as your role in rooting out pervasive, systemic racism?
ANSWER: When you have a nation with 331 million people, some level of racism will exist. However, we should always strive for zero racism. One way I think we can achieve that is to simply stop referring to each other by our races. The more we talk about race, the more we divide our people. My Label-Free Bill is designed to starve racism. When we deny racism the fuel it needs, it will eventually die out. My other policies will provide the much needed equality we all want to see. Your economic situation or zip code should never determine the quality of your education or healthcare.
When we bring my Freedom Health Bill to fruition, everyone will have access to state-of-the-art healthcare.
When we make my Educating For Success Bill a reality, every child will succeed in school and there will be no cracks for our children to fall through.
FUND (Fundamental Urban New Deal) Bill implemented, we will see strong, healthy families thriving. The greatest part is that those suffering the most now, will see the greatest boost with these policies, bringing true equality to America!
#16: How will you remain accountable and accessible to those that you are elected to serve?
ANSWER: First, I will have 2-3 offices throughout the district. They will be staffed at all times to ensure that concerns are addressed. For those concerns that need my attention, I will personally respond.
Second, I will provide links to the bills that are up for votes and ask the people of IL02 to vote online (with a section to explain further, if needed) so they can inform me as to how they want me to vote in Congress.
Third, I have every intention on being back in Illinois every day that Congress in not in session. I will not have a residence in DC. It is not my home; Illinois is!
Fourth, I plan to have Townhalls and/or Meet & Greets for each city/village at least every other month, but preferably monthly. Depending on my Congressional schedule, some may need to be via Zoom or some other program.
Fifth, I plan to have weekly videos to update the constituents on the progress we are making in DC.
I have other plans to be held accountable and you can see them on my Transparency page of my website.