Thursday, August 7, 2014

One On One with Denis Detzel

“...visceral conservative ...moderate [on] moderate issues...”  was how this Republican candidate for Illinois State Representative of the 14th District described himself recently to SouthSide during her interview with him. Meet Denis Detzel , a candidate for change, and he’s seeking your vote this coming November, fellow citizens. Just who is Denis Detzel? Well, this political candidate has a rather interesting yet extensive bio ...a career history which includes working as a hospital pot washer to teaching at elementary and junior high school as well as founding the Learning Exchange in Evanston and was the Director of Affirmative Action for McDonald’s Corporation. More importantly, he wants the voters of this district know that he has a “...firm belief [both political and personal that] you should have the money before you spend it ...[and] if you don’t have, don’t spend it...” yet when it comes to politics in Illinois " one is held accountable..." Denis’ goal as IL State Representative is “ stabilize your taxes, have a rational budge, develop and expand Illinois businesses and employment, lower [Illinois’ state] debt and significantly improve education...” However, he cannot do this without first your support and vote, fellow citizens. Granted an exclusive one-on-one sit down with Denis Detzel, this reviewer thought it was a good idea to poll her family and friends from various voter demographics (i.e. age, economic background, gender, etc) for questions and/or concerns to discuss besides having a few of her own. Questions and concerns that deserve honest answers.

First on SouthSide’s long list of issues were mostly questions about Illinois’ economy to employment and taxes including one about pros and cons of raising the state minimum wage to $15 per hour. Denis began the interview saying he likes current governor, Pat Quinn, however feeling “...[he’s] must be badly misinformed...” especially when it comes to unemployment statistics and figures. The truth is Illinois has one of the highest unemployment rates ...higher than the national average. The problem is as Denis told SouthSide “...folks as well as businesses seem to be streaming out of Illinois...” (approximately 58,000 annually) for other surrounding states like Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. Definitely a major problem especially for small business owners. So how what can he do to help small businesses in Illinois thrive and survive within this state’s current economy? Before answering, Denis helped this reviewer understand the three problems effecting business owners: taxation, regulation and corruption. Believe it or not, small business owners face a 10% to 15% rate on taxes and regulated constantly which tends to lead to corruption. For instance, Denis relayed a story about a restaurateur who received monthly visits from a health inspector to which he got violations on the littlest things such as dust behind a picture and tiny cracks that no one could visibly see (except for the inspector). He even talked to head of the Manufacturer’s Association of Chicago and discovered something alarming “...a lot of [businesses] move across state lines avoid taxation, regulation and corruption...” What will Denis do as IL State Representative? He plans to immediately propose legislation with other likeminded business owners to reduce taxation and regulation on small business owners.
SouthSide then asked him for his thoughts about fast food workers asking for a minimum wage increase to $15 per hour to which Denis saw as a “...political ploy to cause trouble...” According to him, the raise in minimum wage should depend on the business and sees it creating fewer part-time jobs as well as pressuring on higher qualified workers to seek a wage increase. Another repercussion could also include price hike. “...[there’s] not going to be a raise for Illinois workers without an increase price...”states Denis Detzel before asking “...what about the business owners? No one’s worried about their bottom line...” That’s definitely true. A wage increase in minimum wage could hurt most business owners in the end. On that note, SouthSide also took a more cautious approach to this hot political issue while she and Denis discussed in further detail about Seattle and how the council there recently approved raising minimum wage to $15. This reviewer commented saying she had worked both ends of the sliding wage scale which she was paid $14 an hour (as a certified dB Manager/Tech Writer) and $8.25 (as Phone Surveyor) ...noting her opinion though there was really no justification for a fast food worker to receive $15 an hour unless they are skilled and/or certified in what they do but she did understand their need for a wage increase. She also added people shouldn't jump on the bandwagon but wait after a year to see how the increase effected businesses there before deciding on an increase here. Her concerns were – did they (businesses)  retain or lose customers and did employment increase or decrease because of the hike in wages? There are many factors to consider before demanding a pay raise and Denis agreed with SouthSide’s line of thinking.
On the issue about teens and job opportunities for them, Denis simply stated " ...the only opportunity is growth..." while adding "...if we want more employment, we need more employers..." and the only way that will happen is if Illinois reduces regulation, taxation and corruption. He commented Illinois should have followed in the footsteps of other states like Indiana and Wisconsin ...and even New York where there's a 3% tax on businesses and gradual higher tax on the employees which in turns generates revenue for those particular states. So SouthSide asked him how come we here in Illinois wasn't following this. "...good question..." he merely replied. On that note, she asked for his opinion about the governor's recent move to borrow to create more construction and road infrastructure jobs. The 14th District candidate immediately pointed out an interesting fact to this reviewer. For "...every dollar he [Gov. Quinn] borrows, it will cost us 1.5% more..." to repay and "...the money he borrows is not in the [state] budget..." So once again, here lies his original point about not spending money you fiscally don't have. It's one confusing yet never-ending cycle. Money that's borrowed is usually used to pay down the Illinois debt that has accrued to which essentially "...we're dumping it off on our kids' kid's kid's..." and so on. Denis however did commented believing "...Illinois can be a great state once again with jobs, et al..." while noting there's about 300 to 400 (eligible) kids in Rogers Park where he could see a big box store (i.e. like Wal-Mart for example) to generate not only revenue for Chicago and the state but also employment for the kids as well as adults in the area. "...but we're not doing it..." he sadly said.
For SouthSide's good friend who recently moved out of Illinois for a job in Michigan, she asked his following questions. The first was "...As state representative, is there anything he could help guard against the state borrowing on the bond market?" His answer "...the [entire] legislator could prohibit it..." then went on to say "...folks see things here and now but no on thinks about 'then what' or 'what happens next'..." in situations like this. Like the law of physics, "...there's always consequence for the actions you take..." Basically, the state legislator can (more or less) do anything they want and for the most part, Denis did state they have voted down what he calls "wacko bills" (bills not in the general interest and/or welfare of Illinois residents). He also cited this isn't solely a Democrat or Republican problem's a problem across both party lines. His second question was "Is there a way to fix the tax loophole which allows companies in Illinois to business here without paying into Illinois tax system?" Denis informed SouthSide there's a bill proposal in Congress designed to have companies that do business here in the United States to register and pay taxes here as well as to the foreign country where they're headquartered. During this line of questioning, this reviewer brought up one company in particular - Walgreens which (at the time of this interview) were deciding to move their corporate offices to either England or Switzerland to save on taxes. She asked the 14th District candidate what he would do as governor. He had a simple solution - he "...would ask Walgreens what would it take to keep them here [in Illinois] retain their business, employees and revenue..." over the telephone with the CEO and/or president of Walgreens. (At the time of this posting, Walgreens did decide to stay in Illinois after feeling the [political] pressure from President Obama and other politicians).
Education is another hot topic here in Illinois ...especially in Chicago after Mayor Rahm siding with the school board closed over 50 schools last year. SouthSide asked Denis as state representative, what could be done to improve the education system here in Illinois especially in minority communities. Before answering, he asked this reviewer for her opinion about the education in Chicago to which she summed it up in two words " sucks..." He agreed stating "...we have high school freshmen who cannot read on a ninth grade level ...Chicago isn't getting what they're paying for teachers..." thus noting Chicago teachers are the highest paid and again no one is held accountable (especially teachers) for students not being able meet grade level for math and reading. He did also note that most parents in Chicago fall into one of three categories when it comes to their child's education. They either (a) don't seem to know, (b) don't give a damn or (c) give a damn. His solution is basically "...we need to have some of direction for education ...[thus] telling them what we want them to teach our kids ...we got to have teachers trained to teach kids towards that level of direction and then test students..." based on what that level to accurately rate the teacher's performance. However there's a problem to this solution. Teachers like small business owners are regulated ...there's only so much they can and/or cannot do as teachers. He has an idea to "reward" the good teachers but what about the ones that don't fit into that category. Denis did like SouthSide's solution to this side of the equation. Instead of immediately firing said teacher, she suggested giving the "bad" teachers a second chance or a probationary period (up the first 100 days) in another classroom monitoring for improvement. If there's no change, begin the search process for hiring a more qualified teacher to fill the position for next school year. "...there has to be some accountability in education [but] there isn't..." states Denis firmly who also told this reviewer about the time when he was teaching in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Another hot political issue here in Illinois is gubernatorial candidate Rauner's suggestion of "term limits" for Illinois politicians which in this reviewer's opinion is seen as two dirty words in the democratic machine's eyes. She wanted to know if Rauner was suggesting "term limits" for just certain political offices (i.e. the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker, et al) or did it apply to ALL political offices? Also she wanted to know who would determine "how long" is too long to hold a political position in Illinois? Denis answered that Rauner was suggesting the governor's office and legislator and as state representative of the 14th district he would get a committee together to determine the length of the "term limits". Because "...the longer they stay the more they 'form' contracts..." or for a better tem - "buddy system". He would welcome a 3 4-year term limit on holding public office in Springfield while SouthSide suggested a 2 4-year term limit so that ordinary people like herself get the chance to run for office. Believe it or not some politicians in Springfield have been in office for over 20 to 40 years. Perhaps with "term limits" there could be fresh faces and new ideas flowing from the state capital that would benefit all residents. Then, SouthSide pick Denis' mind again with another extremely hot political issue - pension reform. She asked him if there was a plausible solution in finally fixing and/or resolving this major issue to which he said plainly "...there is no pension reform..." That statement immediately shocked this reviewer even though it shouldn't because the never ending problem is like, as Denis illustrates it, "....kick[ing] the can down the road..." To really better illustrate how bad the situation about 43% is paid for but that only leaves the rest (53%) not and recently the Democrats raised taxes to pay for pensions. So if you have plans on retiring, do it now while you still can otherwise expect sort of cut in your pension check. Denis suggested switching to a fixed rate 401K plan though citing " one has offered a real solution yet..." Still, he believes there is a solution to fixing this growing problem as many in his generation are preparing to (or have already) retire in the near future. This also raises another concern - social security. Will there be anything left for SouthSide and many other Gen Xers when it's time for them retire. Good question since there's a lot of borrowing from one to pay off another to help finance the other going which simply creates "...a huge crater in the budget at Springfield..."

Oh, something else about Denis Detzel voters should know - he doesn't believe in mud slinging. "...I don't see [myself] running against her [current IL State Representative Kelly Cassidy, Democrat] ...I have no mud to sling and don't want any..." In other words, he wants a fair and honest i.e. "clean election" which is sort of an oxymoron if you know anything about Chicago politics. There's always mud being thrown somewhere but not here between Denis Detzel and current IL State Rep Kelly Cassidy. About his opponent, he noted that she has "...done a lot for gay rights..." while stating "...I have no desire to [cause] injury to anybody ...think the legislator is doing enough [of that]..." but he will appreciate any votes he gets during the November election. So on that note, she brought up a couple of transgender issues that are effecting SouthSide's trans son Frankie and daughter Amber. The first one was about health care for the Transgender community. SouthSide explained to him since her oldest daughter identifies as male and is transitioning towards that gender, he finds there aren't enough health care services that cater to the trans community. "...[there] shouldn't be any restrictions based on gender, race, et al ...the patient should have the right to pick their doctor..." stated Denis. Soon she asked for his opinion about revamping the current law to make it easier for transgender individuals to legally change their name. Currently, in Illinois if a transgendered person wants to change their birth name to the name they have picked to correspond with the gender they now identify, there's a long tedious process where they through legal representation to prove why they should be granted a name change. And what SouthSide means by "prove why they should be granted a name change" require documentation that the individual is going through hormonal treatment, pre- and/or post operation, etc. in front of a judge after posting a notary public notice. "...gender shouldn't have anything to do..." with this, according to Denis but did suggest requiring a background check (for criminal history) and the judge asking why one wants to be seen as a male when that person was born female. That seems simple enough compared the current complicated process.

Throughout the summer, Chicago has made national news about its crime rate especially after the deadly shootings that occurred during the 4th of July weekend which has prompted calls for the national guard on the streets, community activists to put pressure on politicians for a solution and then Governor Quinn to suggest allowing state troopers/police to help patrol Chicago streets (along with Chicago police officers but only if Mayor Rahm and Superintendent McCarthy request it). Denis Detzel and SouthSide agreed that putting the national guard (which is deployed for state military service and emergency only) in certain high crime areas would only shift the crime and violence to other areas and neighborhoods. Plus, this reviewer doesn't want to live in a militarized zone where she would possibly have to show identification just walk to and from grocery store or walk her daughter to school. National Guard - definitely not a good solution in curbing Chicago's violent streets. So, she asked this candidate for his opinion about Governor's Quinn's offering to send state police to help patrol Chicago's violent high crime neighborhoods. Denis said it would take an "...effective citizen-police cooperation..." to fight against the drug industry since that's the underlining cause of Chicago's violence. He used Rogers Park as an example. The residents of this diverse community have partnered with the police district in identifying who the drug dealers are and where the deals happens for the police to stake out which in the end leads to arrests made. In the end, the problem goes away quietly. And "...any attack on the drug industry would reduce the violence..." However, there's a problem with that solution according to Denis. "...any attack on the drug industry would in turn put a dent on our economy..." such as employment. Shocking, isn't it? It shouldn't if you think about it. " would have a hell of an impact..." he also told this reviewer saying "'s a double edge sword..."  Yet the other possible solution is "...find[ing] where the drug trade is..." and again that would need help from the neighborhood residents.

Winding down this interview, it was time to add some fun and thanks to SouthSide's brother, she asked this candidate - Sox or Cubs? She had already perceived in her mind that Denis would answer "...Cubs..." but instead he said "...I'm a fan of Wrigley Field..." and feels a lot of Cubs fans are the same way. She didn't know it that was a "safe" answer however Denis explained to her that he got swept up in the series as a Sox fan back when the team were in contention (a couple of years ago). He does like both teams but wants to state for the record that he's "...committed to Wrigley Field..." Plus he challenged SouthSide who has never (and she means never) stepped inside the confines of this iconic baseball stadium. Many times she has walked by and/or rode passed Wrigley Field but has never ever been inside to which she did promise she will take in a game there ...probably in disguise when she does.

Lastly, what does Denis want you know to about Denis Detzel, Republican Illinois State Representative candidate for the 14th District? He's has for over 25 years been a business consultant, taught at Rutgers, Northwestern and American Universities, worked for McDonald's (as Director of Affirmative Action) and CNA Financial Corporation (as Manager of Corporate Responsibility), even wrote a book (Managing to Keep the Customer with Bob Desatnick) and believe it or not, he ran an insurance company in Wisconsin. "...thought I was going to freeze my tail off..." he jokingly states, Yet, more importantly, he wants you to know that he "...believes in thinking things through..." for example minimum wage where he would think before making a decision to whether support or not the increase as well as "...sees a lot opportunities to improve the system..." and also would like " opportunity to fix the system ...wants to fix what's broken..." in Illinois when now " is time to consider change..." Then he ended with the following:

"...fundamentally Chicago has a traditional one-party system historically linked with selected special interests that benefit greatly from our state's unhappy circumstances. We need a new government. We need term limits. We need new people with new ideas from all parts of our economy. We need to support alternatives to the current and failing status quo..."

For more information about Denis Detzel and his Republican campaign for the Illinois State Representative seat in the 14th District, visit

SouthSide would like to thank Denis Detzel for taking time out of his (very) busy schedule for this in depth and special One On One interview that held at Rogers Park's Heartland Café (she suggests trying the delicious BLT sandwich with the apple cider).

Until next time, support your local scene,

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