My story is simple. I was born and raised in Illinois, and I’m old enough to remember many things. I remember when Illinois didn’t have a state income tax, yet was able to pay its bills. I grew up in a time when getting an education meant that a kid learned how to read and solve math problems from teachers who weren’t being told how to teach by lobbying groups in Washington, and when a person went to the doctor, he got a bill and paid with cash. I remember when a college student could come home in the summer and get a factory job that paid enough to cover most of the next year’s tuition.
Neither of my parents graduated from high school. Yet together they instilled in me the expectation that I’d go further, and as a result I was the first person from my entire family to attend college. I graduated from the University of Illinois in 1975 with a degree in Accounting, and then went on to get a law degree and a Masters Degree in Taxation from the University of Georgia. Those accomplishments were not mine alone, I know the sacrifices they made to allow me to reach for my dream. I’m forever in their debt.
The fact that I have the benefit of the memory of when times were simpler gives me perspective, and offers me the hope that what was the greatness of this state can be restored. We may surround ourselves with complexities, but human nature doesn’t change. We still want what we’ve always wanted, a better life for ourselves and a brighter future for our children.
I set up my tax practice in 1982 and got on with living my life. In the past 34 years, I’ve seen a lot. I’ve argued before appellate courts and once reached the doorstep of the U.S. Supreme Court. Heady stuff, but my greatest satisfaction comes from helping those who find themselves wrestling with Federal and state bureaucracies, afraid that they’ll lose all they have to a power that they cannot resist.
I’ve also had disappointments, as we all do. There have been bumps in my road, but I think they’ve made me better able to understand and advocate for those who don’t have all the advantages, who worry if their next paycheck may be their last. Americans, more than any other nationality, are known less for who they are than for what they do. The loss of one’s job or business cuts at one’s identity; the fears that ordinary families face in our current economic times strike to their very souls.
Standing by me through this journey has been my wife, Deb. For 35 years we’ve seen the ups and downs, raised 3 kids and seen the arrival of 4 grandchildren. Upon moving to Woodstock in 1983, I practiced law and Deb opened a travel agency which served Woodstock and McHenry County for over 12 years. In the meantime, we became involved in our community, joining Rotary and coaching youth soccer. We’re moving on to this phase of our lives as we’ve done with all the others, together and with a sense of adventure.
As you can see, I’ve been given many blessings. Now it’s time to give back. I’m running for office with the hope that what I do there can in some small way make it easier for some kid now watching his parents struggle to give him something they never had have a fighting chance of realizing his dream.