By Ed Komenda
For many years, Nancy Zettler fought corporations as a lawyer.
Now she hopes to fight them on behalf of taxpayers as an Illinois State senator representing the 33rd District in Springfield.
“I’ve been fighting it from the outside since forever,” she told the Northwest Herald. “I want to go down there and try to fight it from the inside.”
An accomplished attorney, small-business owner and community activist, Zettler has lived in Algonquin with her husband and children for almost two decades.
Ask her to sum up the philosophy driving her bid for the Senate seat, and she’ll eventually share this phrase, “People over profit.”
“We deserve to have government work for us, and not for big corporations, not for the corporate culture,” Zettler said.
The genesis of her corporation-centric approach to fixing the state’s crippling tax problem is her experience as an attorney working on a case known as the “Chicago Tylenol murders.”
In 1982, Tylenol capsules laced with cyanide landed in Chicago drugstores and into the hands of seven people who would take them and die – including a 12-year-old girl.
It was part of Zettler’s job to investigate how that happened. Her sleuthing skills led her to the unsettling discovery that Tylenol makers had received hundreds of customer complaints about foreign objects in their capsules.
The company had not used tamper-proof packaging to ensure the safety of their customers, Zettler said. The findings that surfaced after the Tylenol murders led to major packaging reforms and anti-tampering laws.
The case, Zettler said, served as the catalyst of her journey into activism and through a world where corporations often put profits in front of people.
“I am really interested in making sure the corporate special interests are not running our state and taking what they want and giving us what’s left over,” Zettler said.
As a senator, she hopes to push corporate culture out of governance.
“A big reason the property taxes are so bad around here is not only corporate welfare but also the tax structure at the state level is horrible, and it plays into [corporations] not wanting to pay more than 7 percent,” said Zettler, who ran for state representative for the 66th District in 2016 and is a Dundee Township precinct committeeman. “They should be paying more than 7 percent.”
Only 30 percent of corporations in Illinois pay income tax, Zettler said. She cited ADM, Walgreens and Boeing as companies that pay little to no taxes.
When it comes to property taxes, Zettler is a proponent of a progressive tax that is based on income.
“If you have a good, progressive, not bottom-heavy taxing system at the state level, a lot can be paid for at the state level, where your taxes are dependent on how much money you make,” Zettler said. “We need to fix the structure at the state level and make sure the money is going to where it’s supposed to be going and make sure corporations are paying their fair share.”
Zettler will face recently appointed incumbent and former St. Charles Mayor Don DeWitte in November.