Stadelman, Hoffman answers your questions in state Senate race

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The Rockford Register Star’s election coverage is based on what community members have told us they want to hear the candidates talking about as they compete for votes. Hence the theme “You’re the Boss” — it’s the voters, after all, who are in charge of our democracy. (Go to https://ift.tt/30utsnL to see more about our public-powered coverage agenda.)

Today, the two candidates running in the 34th Senate District, Democratic incumbent Steve Stadelman and Republican challenger Paul Hofmann, answer a series of questions concerning issues that voters tell us are uppermost in their thinking this year.

We’re asking the same questions of candidates in other races and will publish their answers in coming days. Candidates also have the opportunity to discuss other issues that are high priorities for them. The candidates answers have been lightly edited.

Steve Stadelman, Democrat

How do you propose to incorporate mental health professionals into the way we police our communities?

I’m focused on ensuring everyone has access to mental health resources. As senator, I sponsored and passed a bill that led to millions of dollars in additional investment in mental health services here in Winnebago County. I think the best way to incorporate mental health professionals into policing is to have a licensed mental health professional on call at all times. In situations where police respond to an incident involving someone with mental illness, it’s often not safe for either the officers or the person involved. Having someone there who has been formally trained to deal with issues of mental health has the potential to save lives, and that option should be available at all times.

What do you propose to do to improve the cultural competence of law enforcement?

It’s critical that we find ways to promote understanding between police and communities that have been historically disenfranchised. I think a major piece of that is involving police in communities of color in positive ways like hosting events that allow them to learn more about those communities and the issues they face. When police are present in those communities only when responding to law enforcement issues, it only creates more distrust between the two parties. We need to continue to find creative ways to build trust and understanding between police and people of color. We should also continue to work toward diversifying our police force to make sure officers look like the communities they serve. It’s critical that law enforcement reflects and understands the community.

What is your plan to reform law enforcement to ensure that officers are held accountable for misconduct and to make police disciplinary records transparent to the public?

We need to ensure officers who have a history of misconduct are held accountable for their actions and disciplined accordingly. In many of the cases of police misconduct we’ve seen lately, the officers involved have had a history of violent or otherwise inappropriate conduct. A process should be established by which records of misconduct follow individuals to prevent bad actors from simply moving to a new department to avoid discipline. We should also make records more available to the public to ensure departments are accountable and their practices are widely understood.

How do you propose to safely reenergize the local economy amid the coronavirus pandemic?

This pandemic has been devastating for both individuals and small businesses in Illinois, and it’s essential that state government continues to provide them with relief during this challenging time. During this spring session, I voted for several measures to fund important relief programs like the Business Interruption Grant program, which provides funds for small businesses to help keep their doors open and keep people employed. We also need to follow safety guidelines to keep businesses open. Our economy can’t fully recover until we get this virus under control. In the meantime, I’ll continue to fight in Springfield for those programs and advocate for more assistance from the federal government to allow state and local governments to provide needed relief.

How do you propose to restore a shared sense of responsibility for the common good?

Everyone has a responsibility to do what’s best for our community regardless of partisan affiliation. During my time as state senator, I’ve put aside political differences and worked with state and local leaders on both sides of the aisle to do what’s best for the Rockford area. Elected officials have a responsibility to address the issues in a civil and respectful manner and avoid the harsh words and personal attacks that sometimes damage our political discourse. I’ll always put the needs of our community ahead of politics.

Discuss one or two other issues that are high priorities for you and how you would address them in office.

One of my biggest focuses is ensuring everyone has access to affordable health care. As the father of a son who relies on prescription insulin, I understand the importance of ensuring that everyone can afford the medications they need. Last year, we passed a law to cap the cost of prescription insulin, and I believe we should look into further legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs.

Another priority of mine has been developing the Rockford area and providing jobs and opportunities for area residents. As senator, I brought home $15 million to improve the Rockford airport, helping it maintain and create thousands of cargo and logistics jobs. I’ve also secured $275 million to develop passenger rail between Rockford and Chicago and passed a measure to redevelop historic downtown properties like the new Rockford Riverfront Hotel and Convention Center. I’ll continue to fight in Springfield to bring investment to Rockford and create new jobs and job training opportunities.

Paul Hoffman, Republican

How do you propose to incorporate mental health professionals into the way we police our communities?

First, this question assumes that incorporating mental health professionals to policing is the solution to our problem. Two people were killed in separate shootings Saturday (9/26). So, as this is murder 20 and 21 in Rockford; how will this solution reduce this violence? Gun violence has been increasing and police enforcement has been constrained. How many of these guns are legally owned? My approach on matters that I don’t have specific expertise at are as follows: (1) Understand the problem statement; “what is the solution being sought for?” and understand the impacts of the present policy(s), etc. (2) Identify experts and stakeholders with opposing views. (3) Review inputs from both sides; analyze proposed solutions and what it takes to implement them. (4) Problems in Rockford are primarily a local issue so this process will be done by local agencies. I will be engaged by reviewing the recommendations, provide input and determine how the state Senate can support these if legislative changes are needed.

What do you propose to do to improve the cultural competence of law enforcement?

Again, this question implies that police cultural competence is a large problem. However, many killings occur amongst members of the same culture. Police forces hire from within the communities they operate. Do we know if this is not working? I suggest consultation with Detroit Police Chief James Craig. He has implemented body cams and moved heaven and earth to get video shown quickly regarding the shooting of a man being arrested to mitigate the effects of social media inciting riots. As stated earlier; isn’t illegal gun violence within the community the larger problem? If it is, our neighborhoods will demand police support and this has been the case. These voices need to be heard by leaders in government. Plus, there is a need for prosecutors that pursue punishment of violent offenders and a justice system that applies these laws equally.

What is your plan to reform law enforcement to ensure that officers are held accountable for misconduct and to make police disciplinary records transparent to the public?

The current approach in our cities is to instantly assume that the police are at fault and the resultant protests transition to rioting and looting. I support strengthening existing methods of analyzing police involved shootings without creating new ones. I advocate that government and community leaders should follow the counsel given at the Rockford Ministers Fellowship 6/17 Press Conference and inputs from the Fire and Police Commission to make recommendations. This community has a strong vested interest towards security and the growth of business in a healthy environment. The current level of security is weakening further as police pull back.

How do you propose to safely reenergize the local economy amid the coronavirus pandemic?

End lockdowns. End fearmongering. Lead with a message of strength, courage and hope. Large businesses have been allowed to operate and small businesses have struggled severely. My guidance towards this pandemic would follow my approach described in question 1. This complex problem needed a balanced approach, using the inputs from multiple perspectives (states that have minimized lockdowns, etc.) and stakeholders. The current approach has been largely one-sided. This complex problem requires a multifaceted approach.

How do you propose to restore a shared sense of responsibility for the common good?

This is a very good question. Underlying our problems is a profound moral, spiritual and cultural crisis. The full effect of chasing God out our culture since the sixties is fully evident. The Golden rule is no longer taught. We must explore historical lessons that will help guide us out of our current situation. Utopian visions that lie at the heart of Marxist ideology languish in misery (Venezuela, etc.) or have ended catastrophically (Germany, etc.). I will consult the faith community and pursue legislative solutions that ease barriers to their engagement. This will involve consultation at the federal level as court case decisions have led us in this direction.

Discuss one or two other issues that are high priorities for you and how you would address them in office.

(1) The fiscal situation — tax and spending. Illinois has a spending issue. I will work with other legislators to propose spending cuts so that the pressure to increase taxation on our citizens is reduced. Plus, this can foster a more business friendly environment leading to growth. A growing economy produces increased tax revenue (2) Education — work with local educators to identify and reduce state legislature mandates that are burdensome and provide questionable educational value. (3) Corruption — ethics reform is urgently needed. Work with legislators to implement ethics reform that has been stalled by the Democratically controlled legislature.

Region: Northern,Politics,Region: Rockford,City: Rockford

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October 8, 2020 at 01:14PM

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