Chris Kasperski (R-Lindenhurst), with the assistance of his service dog, Lakota, is running for IL State Senate in District 31. Chris is a combat-wounded U.S. Army veteran. Chris served for a year in southern Afghanistan, searching for and clearing roadside bombs, land mines, and other Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) as a Combat Engineer. Following his honorable medical retirement from the Army, Chris attended the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS). Chris earned a degree in Political Science, with an emphasis on American politics and public law. Chris also minored in criminal justice and Pre-Law and received a certification in Homeland Security. Chris has been married to his wife, Allison, for ten years, and together, they have two beautiful children, Carson (8) and McKinley (6). The Kasperskis reside in Lindenhurst, in his childhood home.
Illinoisans share the most substantial tax burden in the nation. It is causing a mass movement of families and businesses to flee the state. We must work to make Illinois a place worth living instead of worth leaving.
The corruption in Illinois has damaged the state's reputation. We need new representation that will not prop-up the leadership that has allowed public corruption to go unchecked.
Illinois does not have a revenue problem; the state has a spending problem. We must prioritize spending and balance the budget without the budgetary gimmicks that cause deficits.
What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?
Property tax relief is a major issue that is affecting the 31st district, and the State's failure to meet its constitutionally-mandated education funding levels has caused school districts to make up the difference in property taxes. Public-sector pensions are crowding out essential government services, and we must work to enact constitutional reforms to keep pension promises while also ending the sweetheart deals that are leading to insolvency. As a veteran, it breaks my heart to see that Legionnaires Disease has continued to plague our Veterans' homes. We should come together to ensure that our veterans are given the best care possible. The economic results of our high taxes have benefitted our neighboring states, to the detriment of our local businesses and our ability to collect tax revenue from local sales. We must work to make this state more competitive with our neighbors.
Who do you look up to? Whose example would you like to follow, and why?
Benjamin Franklin is someone who I have studied and looked up to since I learned that my family was descended from his! Thanks to the technology of Ancestry.com, I was able to trace my lineage all the way to Franklin's paternal grandparents, my 10th Great Grandparents. That makes Benjamin Franklin my first cousin removed 11 generations! He was a remarkable human being. He was not without his faults, yet he was always striving to improve himself and solve the problems that he encountered. His inventions were life-saving and novel. His experiments have stood the test of time. And his worldwide celebrity helped him in his diplomatic mission. Franklin not only secured the assistance of the French in the Revolutionary War, but he also was able to procure most of the munitions that were used to win the war. His ability to secure the Great Compromise at the Constitutional Convention was critical to its ratification. And his service as the President of the Pennsylvania Abolitionist Society demonstrated his commitment to liberty and justice for all. He was way ahead of his time, and was deserving of his nickname as "The First American."
Is there a book, essay, film, or something else you would recommend to someone who wants to understand your political philosophy?
I take a lot of inspiration from Benjamin Franklin, and would highly recommend the biography written by Walter Issacson, as well as Franklin's autobiography. Franklin advocated for hard work, frugality, and compromise. Franklin said that compromise was a necessary thing when dealing with people who have differences of opinion. As he suggested at the Constitutional Convention, when a carpenter attempts to join two boards together, they plane a little off both sides to create a bond that will last for centuries. I think that compromise has become a dirty word, and that we should be more willing to listen to other perspectives and be able to talk to other people with different perspectives as well. That doesn't mean that we have to sacrifice our core values, but we should be willing to listen, learn, and teach.
What characteristics or principles are most important for an elected official?
My military service instilled a set of core values that demands loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. I am loyal to my country and my state. I consider it my duty to make the world a better place. I expect respect to be given by default, and it can be strengthened or weakened by our conduct. I volunteered to do one of the most dangerous jobs in the military out of a sense of selfless service to my fellow Americans. It was my honor to serve as it is my honor to run for this office. I promise to conduct myself with the highest integrity. Finally, I have demonstrated personal courage during my service in Afghanistan and I will continue to be courageous in my future endeavors.
What do you believe are the core responsibilities for someone elected to this office?
An elected official is responsible for following through with the mandate that their constituents give them. They should show up for the job that they were elected to do and should be communicative with the people who have entrusted them to represent them. They should be a leader in their community and have the best interest of their district in mind at all times.
I want to be remembered as someone who was willing to go to great lengths to save lives and make the world a better place.
What is the first historical event that happened in your lifetime that you remember? How old were you at the time?
I remember going across the street to my grandparents' house, which I now live in, and I would sit with my grandfather and watch the OJ Simpson trial every day. I was captivated by it even at a young age. In retrospect, I am thankful that I had that time with my grandparents. Our time with them is so precious, and I would have watched anything as long as it was with them.
What was your very first job? How long did you have it?
I worked as an apprentice electrician for my first job. It was seasonal though, so I also took a job working at a local Buffalo Wild Wings as a cashier and server. I left Buffalo Wild Wings after working there for five years to pursue a career as a journeyman electrician. Following the economic crash of 2008 which greatly impacted the construction industry, I made the choice to enlist in the United States Army.
What is your favorite book? Why?
I read Jack London's "Call of the Wild" when I was very young. It appealed to my fascination with sled dogs at a young age and is a big reason why we have our Siberian Huskies. I am excited to see the film adaptation of that classic novel!
If you could be any fictional character, who would you want to be?
What was the last song that got stuck in your head?
"Same old trip" by Chevelle (Grayslake Locals & Chris's favorite band)
What is something that has been a struggle in your life?
My mother abandoned my younger brother and me when we were very young. We were raised by our father, who worked hard to provide for us. Coming from a single-parent household, we didn't have many luxuries, but we had each other.
My brother and I both served our nation and both deployed to Afghanistan in order to secure a better life for ourselves.
The consequences of war have left an indelible mark on our family. I am fortunate to have the support of my family and friends as I work to overcome the challenges of service-connected injuries and post-traumatic stress. My service dog, Lakota, has been incredibly helpful in my recovery, and I hope that we can be an inspiration to others who are going through tough times.
Every state besides Nebraska has two legislative chambers. What do you consider the most important differences between the legislative chambers in your state?
Illinois' General Assembly has been controlled by Speaker Michael Madigan for longer than I have been alive. The Senate, however, has the responsibility to act as a check on the enormous amount of power that he has accumulated as the Chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party and as the Speaker of the House. The Senate is the deliberative body and has a better opportunity to introduce legislation without Madigan quashing it in committee, as he typically does.
Do you believe that it’s beneficial for state legislators to have previous experience in government or politics?
I think that experience can be an asset or a detriment. Too much experience means that lobbyists have more of a grip on legislators. It also is apparent that many legislators have quite a bit of experience in raising taxes and fees, but not a lot of experience in making things better for families and businesses in this state.
What do you perceive to be your state’s greatest challenges over the next decade?
Illinois has serious financial issues that have been exacerbated from decades of corruption, over-promising, and gross mismanagement. This is why we need a new generation of leaders to emerge who are serious about working through these problems to put Illinois back on track to lead the nation's heartland.
What do you believe is the ideal relationship between the governor and the state legislature?
The ideal relationship would be to have a governor that puts partisan politics aside and is independent enough to root out corruption irrespective of the party. The General Assembly ought to take the Governor's intentions into consideration, however, the General Assembly should not delegate their legislative authority over to the executive. Everyone should work within their constitutional framework.
Do you believe it’s beneficial to build relationships with other legislators? Please explain your answer.
It is human nature to develop relationships wherever someone works. I think it is important to develop those relationships professionally and to respect each other. Political differences shouldn't involve personal attacks or animosity. It is one thing to challenge an idea, yet that should not evolve into personal attacks.
If you are not a current legislator, are there certain committees that you would want to be a part of?
- The State Government & Veterans Affairs Committee
- Local Government Committee
- Redistricting Committee
- Transportation Committee
- Education Committee.
If you are not currently a member of your party’s leadership in the legislature, would you be interested in joining the leadership? If so, in what role?
I think it is important for leadership to change so that no one person can hold power for so long that they no longer represent the best interests of the State. I would welcome any responsibility that I am given, however, I am focused on doing what is necessary to reverse the disastrous course that has this state is in.
Is there a particular legislator, past or present, whom you want to model yourself after?
I admire the fidelity to the U.S. Constitution that Senator Rand Paul (R- Kentucky) and Senator Mike Lee (R- Utah) have demonstrated. I think it is important to stand up for our rights and liberties as they have.
Are you interested in running for a different political office (for example, the U.S. Congress or governor) in the future?
My interest is in working diligently to fix the many problems that are facing Illinois. If other opportunities arise in the future, then I will assess them at that time. My desire to continue to serve my community and my country is unending.
Both sitting legislators and candidates for office hear many personal stories from the residents of their district. Is there a story that you’ve heard that you found particularly touching, memorable, or impactful?
We have so many people who are being taxed out of their homes and are fleeing the State that they have long loved. Things have become so corrupt and unaffordable that many people simply have lost faith. Others feel trapped, living paycheck to paycheck as they see more of the fruits of their labor going towards a corrupt culture that promises more than can be delivered just to get more votes. My own father recently had to move out of state because of the rising taxes and fees that have fueled corruption.
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