Candidates for state legislature adhere to party lines

BATAVIA – Democratic and Republican candidates for state legislative seats were sticking closely to the party line during a League of Women Voters of Central Kane County election forum on Thursday.

State Rep. Karina Villa, D-West Chicago, who is seeking the 25th Senate District seat, faced off against Republican nominee Jeanette Ward, also from West Chicago.

Maura Hirschauer, a Democrat from Batavia, is hoping to replace Villa as the 49th House District representative. Hirschauer dueled over state policy with Republican nominee Laura Curtis, a North Aurora village trustee.

During separate appearances in the Batavia City Council chambers, the competing pairs of candidates for the two Illinois General Assembly seats fielded the same set of questions from League moderator Susan Russo of Batavia.

Republicans Ward and Curtis appeared to be reading from one partisan playbook, while Democrats Villa and Hirschauer seemed to be referring to another.

From the proposed Fair Tax Amendment to the notion of arming teachers in the classroom, the responses from the candidates became predictable.

Villa and Hirschauer seemed particularly in synch.

“Absolutely not!” each replied when asked if teachers should be allowed to possess guns in schools.

Ward and Curtis were on the same page as well, declaring that the possibility of armed teachers would help serve as a deterrent for mass shooters.

The two Republicans used similar language to voice opposition to the Fair Tax Amendment, which would replace the state’s flat tax on income with a graduated income tax aimed at increasing the rates paid by the wealthy.

“The fair tax is anything but fair,” Ward said. “It is a blank check that will be given to the legislature if voters approve it and they will be able to raise taxes on everyone.”

Curtis said the flat tax is already fair.

“Everyone pays the same rate,” Curtis said.

Villa and Hirschauer expressed strong support for the Fair Tax Amendment, saying the additional revenue is needed.

On the question of affordable housing, the two Democrats said there is a role for the state play, while the two Republicans said the issue should be addressed locally.

The Democrats said more needs to be done to achieve racial justice, while the Republicans said the system is already colorblind.

Questioned on their support for an existing parental notification requirement for a minor seeking an abortion, the candidates deferred to the overarching party lines: pro-choice for the Democrats and pro-life for the Republicans.

Time and again, long-established partisan positions held sway.

On business and economic growth, the Republicans said the key is to cut taxes and regulations, while the Democrats emphasized education and vocational training.

Still, there were some areas of agreement. For example, all of the candidates expressed support for reforming the state’s system of drawing legislative boundaries, which is commonly regarded as producing gerrymandered districts.

The opening and closing statements from the candidates, which amounted to standard political stump speeches, would have quickly revealed party affiliation to anyone who did not already know.

“I’m running to protect freedom, faith and family,” Ward said. “Taxes and corruption are crushing our residents.”

Both the Republicans charged that their Democratic opponents are beholden to House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago. Villa and Hirschauer both pointedly ignored those attacks.

Villa, with nearly two years of experience in Springfield under her belt, portrayed herself as someone who has reached across the political aisle and would do so in the Senate.

The 25th Senate District seat is currently occupied by Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, for the 14th Congressional District seat.

The 25th District extends as far north as South Elgin and as far south as Yorkville.

Senate districts in Illinois are composed of two House districts. The 49th House District for which Hirschauer and Curtis are competing makes up half of the 25th Senate District.

The 49th District includes portions of Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles, North Aurora, South Elgin and West Chicago among other communities.

The other half of the 25th Senate District is the 50th House District, which includes portions of Elburn, Sugar Grove, Campton Hills, Oswego and Yorkville.

The 50th District incumbent is Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, who was unable to attend the candidate forum. Challenger Kate Monteleone, a Democrat from Campton Hills, was allowed to make a short speech in accordance with League rules.

In her brief remarks, Monteleone said there are considerable differences between herself and Wheeler. Again, the differences emerged as standard Democratic and Republican differences.

Monteleone attacked Wheeler’s positions on guns, the environment and education.

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September 25, 2020 at 07:22AM

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