Candidates for 96th district focus on jobs

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DECATUR – Candidates for the 96th state House District cite the state budget, reducing wasteful spending, and bringing back jobs as top concerns.

Incumbent Sue Scherer (D-Decatur), a retired teacher, has served since January 2013. Republican challenger Charlie McGorray is a retired firefighter. Green Party candidate John Keating II works for an activist organization called Education & Action Together, based in Springfield. 

“We need to continue looking at the budget and figuring out ways to reduce spending and sharpen our pencils further to rid the budget of wasteful expenses,” Scherer said. “Many problems still exist at (the Department of Children and Family Services) and I am committed to continue working to make this agency more effective.”

McGorray said the main reason he is running is ethics and corruption in the state legislature.

“I feel that they need some honesty over there and hardworking people with a conservative point of view when it comes to balancing the budget,” he said.

It won’t happen overnight, he said, and will take significant reforms. He’s also committed to job creation and changing state policies to make the state more business-friendly in order to bring new jobs to the state.

“We need jobs that pay well and have good benefits,” McGorray said. “Decatur has lost thousands of factory jobs over the last 25 years, and a lot of that has to do with how the state is being run, with more taxes and cost increases. I want to make a more friendly atmosphere for businesses, and if that happens, we’ll have jobs and people will have money to spend.”

Keating, 32, is most interested in issues that include police reform and economic recovery in rural areas. His organization has hosted events for Black Lives Matter and sponsored events in rural communities to allow representatives of Black Lives Matter to speak to residents and share their point of view. 

"A lot of people look at small towns as places where implicit biases are fostered," Keating said. "It’s not because people are inherently bigoted. People don’t understand what they haven’t experienced." 

He’s in favor of requiring body cameras for all members of law enforcement, and he said funds are available to pay for the cameras and for data storage of the footage, if police agencies were willing to use the money for those things. 

"They receive guns and vehicles from the Federal 1033 program (the Department of Defense’s program to disperse outdated and unused military equipment and supplies to law enforcement)," Keating said. "This program can also grant servers and data storage spaces. That’s something we need to address."

The pandemic has hurt small businesses, Scherer said, and one of her goals is to get people back to work and support businesses that are struggling.

“The people have a right to have faith in their elected leaders,” she said. “I will do everything I can to restore that faith. Jobs and retraining remain at the top of my list of priorities. Putting people to work is so important when it comes to moving Illinois in the right direction.”

She has a particular interest in education, she said, and another goal is to equalize education funding. Another thing the pandemic has brought to light is the disparities between districts’ resources.

“We must hold all lawmakers’ feet to the fire and insist all children get equal educational opportunities,” she said. “As chairwoman of the Education Licensing committee, I see first-hand the problems we face with the teacher shortage. More must be done. This is a continuing battle. My goal continues to be working to find solutions to funding education, finding more teachers, and making sure all children the the best education possible.”

Another concern, said McGorray, is the proposed graduated tax amendment, which he said will put more of a burden on businesses, particularly farmers, who have to plan ahead and who depend so much on the weather.

“They are extremely good business people and they have to plan ahead,” McGorray said. “Crops might not be good this year, so they have to rathole money. Crops may be good next year, but if there’s too much corn and beans, prices drop. Farmers are constantly juggling, so there’s agriculture and commodities issues we can talk about all day.”

Keating said he plans to vote the way constituents tell him they want him to vote. 

"I’m the person that’s going to speak to consituents and vote in ways that they want me to," he said. "We’ve seen a number of decisions made in office that don’t represent the little guy constituency. You shouldn’t vote on personal or religious beliefs. I’m a Lutheran, but just because that’s what I personally feel doesn’t mean that’s the way I should vote." 


7 of Decatur’s most historic homes



Undated: John H. Culver home. It was sold to Roy Phillips in 1950 by Elizabeth C. Shellabarger, daughter of John H. Culver. Phillips remodeled it into apartments.



1975: The Oglesby Mansion, home of the state’s only three-time governor.



1979: The Eli Ulery house has historical and architectural significance, a state official says.



1957: Repairs to the Decatur Art Center, 125 N. Pine St., make it look as shiny in 1957 as it may have looked when builty by James Millikin in 1876. The sturdy brick building has been tuckpointed, the wood porches rebuilt, the woodwork painted, plumbing, wiring and roofing has been repaired. After the death of Anna B. Millikin in 1913 the house stood vacant until used as a hospital in the flu epidemic of 1918. The first paintings were hung in 1919.



The Powers Mansion in 1939.

Undated: John H. Culver home. It was sold to Roy Phillips in 1950 by Elizabeth C. Shellabarger, daughter of John H. Culver. Phillips remodeled it into apartments.

1975: The Oglesby Mansion, home of the state’s only three-time governor.

1979: The Eli Ulery house has historical and architectural significance, a state official says.

1957: Repairs to the Decatur Art Center, 125 N. Pine St., make it look as shiny in 1957 as it may have looked when builty by James Millikin in 1876. The sturdy brick building has been tuckpointed, the wood porches rebuilt, the woodwork painted, plumbing, wiring and roofing has been repaired. After the death of Anna B. Millikin in 1913 the house stood vacant until used as a hospital in the flu epidemic of 1918. The first paintings were hung in 1919.

The Powers Mansion in 1939.

Contact Valerie Wells at (217) 421-7982. Follow her on Twitter: @modgirlreporter

via Newsbug.info

October 17, 2020 at 08:57AM

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