Jack Vrett, Illinois House 53rd District 2022 Primary Election Questionnaire

Election 2024
Illinois House 53rd District candidate Jack Vrett

Full Name: Jack Vrett

What office are you seeking? State Representative for the 53rd District (representing parts of Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, and Schaumburg)

What offices, if any, have you previously held? No elected positions, but served in the U.S. Army J.A.G. Corps from 2009-2014, attaining the rank of Captain and deploying to Afghanistan in December 2010 to May of 2011. From 2014-2015 I served as Labor Counsel to an agency of the Department of Defense, and later from 2015-2017 as Deputy General Counsel of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services and Chief Labor Counsel for the State of Illinois.

City: Arlington Heights

Occupation: Attorney

Education: Undergraduate: Northwestern University (B.S. 2006, Communications with a double major in history) Law School: Marquette University Law School (J.D., cum laude, 2009)

Campaign Website: jackvrett.com

What are the top issues facing your district and what would you like to do to address those issues?

The top issues facing the 53rd District are education, crime, and taxes & inflation.

Education: Children deserve access to education that is reliable and consistent, but years of uncertainty have had a negative impact on children and families. We must keep students in the classroom and reintroduce educational and developmental opportunities children lost during the pandemic. Crime:The primary role of government is to ensure public safety, but short-sighted policies have created a consequence-free environment. Lawlessness in Chicago is causing ripple effects throughout suburban Cook County. We must enforce criminal laws, support victims, and defend—not defund—our police. As a former prosecutor, I will fight for victims’ rights, support law enforcement, and provide a check against rogue prosecutors who put politics before protecting the public.

Taxes & Inflation:While we pay some of the highest taxes in the country, we don’t get the value for the taxes we pay. Inflation is skyrocketing, small businesses are struggling, and Illinoisans are wrestling with rising costs of daily life. Our citizens not only need, but deserve, a break–not a tax hike.

If COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths rise again, what mitigations, if any, should the state pursue?

Children, families, and small businesses have been hurt by inconsistent and unreliable rules and directives from politicians concerning the pandemic. We should listen to the advice of public health professionals and implement specific covid-mitigations in a manner that prioritizes keeping kids in the classroom and our small and local businesses open. Future mitigations must consider these critical priorities, and the legislature must be involved in the decision-making process. Our system of checks and balances requires that each co-equal branch of government fulfills its constitutional obligations, and I believe the solutions we develop will be better when we have greater diversity of opinion, and when the Governor adopts a collaborative approach with the people’s elected representatives in the legislature.

In light of Michael Madigan’s indictment, what steps should the legislature take to address corruption and ethics concerns in the state?

The culture of corruption in Springfield must end. Mike Madigan’s recent indictment for corruption is progress, but his influence runs deep. Until just last year, he was still the Chair of the Illinois Democratic Party. The politicians who repeatedly voted to keep Mike Madigan in power and accepted his money should be on notice. Each was complicit if they had any part in furthering, or benefiting from, his criminal enterprise.

To help end the culture of corruption in Springfield, we must:

Expand the power and autonomy of the Legislative Inspector General to independently investigate complaints against lawmakers, including the independent authority to issue subpoenas and compel witness testimony. Amend Section 9-8.10 of the Illinois Election Code to prohibit political committees from utilizing campaign funds to pay for a candidate’s attorneys’ fees in any criminal cases.

Require legislators to recuse themselves or disclose potential conflicts of interest to the public before voting on any measure in which they have a personal financial interest.

If there was one bill that you could get through the legislature next year, what would it be?

Enact an across-the-board property tax freeze that requires taxing bodies to seek voter approval before raising taxes for new spending proposals. Property taxes are out of control and years of paying top dollar for a failing system are driving taxpayers and small businesses away from Illinois. Currently there’s no incentive for taxing bodies to live within their means. Property owners deserve a break. We must enact a property tax freeze that will force taxing bodies to look for cost savings or take their ideas to voters in the community to see if taxpayers approve of new spending.

If there was one recently passed law you could repeal, what would it be?

We must repeal the “SAFE-T Act.” Even after multiple attempts to fix this misguided legislation, the massive police reform bill still endangers the public and fails to adequately support law enforcement and first responders. Our criminal justice system needs improvement, but the SAFE-T Act’s sweeping changes jeopardize the public, fail to protect victims, and falls down on supporting law enforcement. We must keep criminals off the streets, and we must ensure law enforcement and first responders know they have the backing and support of a grateful community.

Do you support term limits? If yes, why and what would they look like? And if no, why not?

Yes, I support term limits. In Illinois, we know that most problems occur when power is concentrated in the hands of a few elites who cling to office year after year, using the power and influence of their office to make challenges almost impossible. It is time for fresh ideas and a new generation of leadership in Springfield. I recommend we consider requiring gaps after too many consecutive terms in office. After ten consecutive years in office, legislators should be required to sit it out for a term and let the voters consider an open seat or run for the higher retention threshold like the law requires for circuit court judges. This commonsense reform would help ensure fresh ideas have a chance in Springfield. However, because it would require amending the Illinois Constitution, it should be paired with replacing the current redistricting system with an independent redistricting commission.

Inflation across the country has greatly impacted the price of gasoline, food and other supplies. What should the legislature do to address these issues?

Inflation is the natural consequence of reckless government spending and misguided policies that have stifled small businesses and disrupted our economy. Inflation serves as a disguised tax that hits low- income families the hardest and eats away at wage gains, college savings, and retirement accounts. In order to slow and reverse inflation, we must decrease the cost of government by rooting out waste and inefficiency, and we must adopt pro-growth policies that will make Illinois the best state in the nation to start and grow a small business.

Taxes in Illinois are too high, and they are adding to the pain we are all facing due to inflation and the rising cost of daily life. Though the legislature has proposed temporary tax relief set to expire after election day, we must enact permanent and meaningful tax cuts that make everyday life more affordable and stops driving residents and businesses out of Illinois.

Taxes are a top concern of Illinois voters. What do you think the underlying issues are and how would you propose addressing them?

Taxes in Illinois are out of control. The average taxpayer in Illinois pays 38.92% more in taxes when compared with the national average, and we are ranked in last place for taxes overall when compared with taxes in other states. However, because so much of our tax dollars goes to pay down pension debt or for inefficient state agencies, taxpayers in Illinois do not receive the actual value for the taxes they pay. No wonder so many taxpayers and businesses are fleeing our state— but as our population shrinks and our economy slows, the cost of government continues to grow, leaving those who remain left to pay the bill for services they don’t receive.

That is why in 2020 I opposed the misleading “Fair Tax” amendment supported by JB Pritzker and my opponent Mark Walker. Though sold to voters as a constitutional amendment that would keep taxes from going up, the language of the amendment actually granted unlimited power to politicians in Springfield to raise taxes on middle-income and working families and implement a first-ever tax on retirement. I opposed that amendment by filing a lawsuit on behalf of taxpayers asking the court to require voters receive ballots that accurate explanations and remove one-sided and misleading political spin. Thankfully, the amendment was soundly defeated at the ballot box, and the lawsuit became moot.

What are three things the state legislature could do to promote better fiscal responsibility within state government?

Illinois’ disastrous history of unbalanced budgets and runaway spending have contributed to high property taxes, poor services, and crippling unfunded pension debt. To promote fiscal responsibility, we must require balanced budgets, implement transparency in budgeting, and prohibit pension payment holidays.

We must require balanced budgets. Existing law requires that we adhere to revenue estimates in the budgetary process, but Democrats in the super-majority consistently ignore this requirement. We must implement transparency requirements in the budgeting process. Instead of presenting massive budget bills at the last moment with no time for evaluation by the public, budgets should be thoroughly and deliberately vetted by both the House and the Senate and then posted for a public review period so taxpayers have an opportunity to provide meaningful comments and contact their representatives with questions or concerns.

We must prohibit pension payment holidays. The pension crisis was caused by reckless spending that prioritized pet projects over keeping promises to retirees. We must pass legislation that prohibits the state from skipping out on its obligations to fund pension obligations, much like provisions requiring annual funding of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (“IMRF”).

How would you propose addressing the problems with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services?

Governor Pritzker and DCFS Director Marc Smith and other senior leaders of DCFS must be held accountable for the abject failure of leadership that has left so many defenseless kids in danger while ignoring legal obligations and court ordered oversight. But instead of accountability, DCFS’s indifference has been rewarded with more and more taxpayer dollars. We need a full independent audit of DCFS’s finance and operations and an independent investigation into the repeated practice of indifference to the plight of children and families in Illinois. We must also increase training and resources for DCFS employees to better prepare them for abusive, neglectful, or violent situations, and we should expand training and resources for law enforcement who uncover evidence of child abuse or neglect in our communities. Unfortunately, the indifference of Governor Pritzker and DCFS Director Smith concerning DCFS’s failure to protect children echo the indifference Governor Pritzker showed to veterans in the custody and care of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs at the LaSalle Veterans Home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What can be done at a state level to address crime?

Crime is out of control, and it is impacting our schools, our businesses, and our neighborhoods. It is not just a Chicago problem—we see an alarming increase in property crimes, car jackings, and retail theft across Chicago’s suburban communities. Anti-policing policies and politically motivated prosecutors who lack the resolve to prosecute criminals have created a consequence-free environment where crime flourishes while victims, families, and business owners are ignored. Crime, and the failure to prosecute criminals, is contributing to the torrent of people and businesses fleeing Illinois for other states—this has a cascading impact on those of us who choose to remain and are committed to improving our state.

We must make repealing the SAFE-T Act a top priority and replace it with real policing reforms that make it easier, not harder, for law enforcement to protect the public. The safety of our communities should not be subject to the whims of politically-motivated prosecutors who refuse to fulfill the obligations of their office. We must expand the independent authority of home-rule municipal prosecutors, authorized under the Illinois Municipal Code to prosecute crimes committed within their jurisdiction when the county’s State’s Attorney declines to prosecute.

We must restore the powers of law enforcement to deescalate potentially violent situations by authorizing police to remove violent, aggressive, or disruptive persons from private property at the request of a homeowner or business owner. We must make new investments in police equipment, recruiting, training, and retention to ensure we have the most well-resourced and best trained police departments in the country.

Did Joe Biden win the 2020 election?


What is your position on the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol?

Our democracy is sacred and must be protected. Attempts to influence elections or subvert our democracy through violence must be universally condemned. As a veteran and former criminal prosecutor, I swore an oath to support and defend our Constitution. I was offended by what I saw on TV on January 6. While people have a right to free speech and protest, they cannot engage in criminal acts of violence. Those who stormed the Capitol engaged in violent and disgraceful criminal acts, and I believe those criminal acts must investigated and prosecuted according to the fullest extent of our laws and Constitution.

Illinois has seen significant revenue growth from marijuana sales and enhanced gambling. Are there other industries the state should consider to grow revenue?

We must restore the American Dream and make Illinois the best place in the country to start and grow a business. Illinois’ unique position in the heart of the nation and access to the world-class city of Chicago should make us the ideal place to start and grow a business, but years of mismanagement, high taxes, closed schools, and rising crime have created an unfavorable economic environment that is driving business and residents out of our state While we see growth in the cannabis and gambling industries and promising signs in the electric vehicle industry, we must shift our focus to growing the economy across all industries. Right now, we have a unique and narrow opportunity to lead the nation in the creation of a new supply chain that is less reliant on and susceptible to turmoil overseas, but we must invest in manufacturing, construction, and infrastructure here in Illinois, and we must help high schools and community colleges partner with trades unions to offer training in the high paying careers we need to jumpstart our economy and make Illinois the economic powerhouse of post-pandemic American economy.