State rep. Andrew Chesney Gerald Podraza Illinois Senate District 45 – Rockford Register Star

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State Rep. Andrew Chesney, R-Freeport, and Gerald Podraza, D-Galena, are candidates for Illinois Senate in District 45.

FREEPORT — A Republican state representative and a Democratic political newcomer will face off in the Nov. 8 election as they seek to join the state Senate representing most of northwest Illinois.

Republican candidate Andrew Chesney, 40, of Freeport, is a former Freeport City Council alderman first elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 2018 and re-elected in 2020. Democrat Gerald Podraza, 78, who recently moved to Galena from rural Apple River, is an industrial hemp producer who previously operated a small vineyard and before that worked in human resources.

They are running for election in the re-drawn Illinois Senate District 45. It is a large area encompassing most of northwest Illinois. It includes parts of Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Ogle, Stephenson and Winnebago counties.

The winner will succeed state Sen. Brian Stewart, R-Freeport, who chose not to seek re-election after nearly 50 years of public service.

Chesney, who is originally from Shannon, didn’t face a challenger in the Republican primary. Podraza, who is originally from Norridge, advanced to the general election as a Democratic write-in candidate.

Here is a closer look at the candidates.

Democrat Gerald Podraza, 78, of Galena, is a candidate for Illinois Senate in District 45.

Gerald H. Podraza

Age: 78 

Family: Adult son and daughter, two grandsons.

City of Residence: Galena

Education: Bachelor of science, Quincy University, Quincy; masters of music education from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale; post graduate classes at Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago; Ph.D studies in public policy at University of Illinois Chicago.

Profession: Industrial hemp producer. Previously operated a micro-vineyard, was an experimental wine maker and worked in human resources development, rehabilitation, mental health, education and music.

Memberships: AFSCME – Chicago Read Mental Health Center, Institute of Food Technologists, Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society, National Scholastic Fraternity and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia National Music Fraternity.

Political Experience: Previously ran for Jo Daviess County Board

Major Endorsements: United Auto Workers Region IV, Planned Parenthood of Illinois and Moms Demand Action/Students Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

List the top three issues in your race and how you plan to address each them if elected. 

  1. Economic development: I would advocate for infrastructure improvements including road and bridge repair, the revival of passenger rail, and conservational farming practices including prairie strips and carbon sequestration. I’d continue the research of industrial hemp as source of food, medicine, construction materials, textiles and paper. I’d implement programs connecting food cooperatives to schools and nursing homes and high school food science and technology four-year course sequence. I’d place a moratorium on hog concentrated feeding operations and mega dairies. 
  2. Workforce development: I would advocate for strengthening union membership, creating pre-apprenticeship high school programs with a work-based learning experience senior year, apprenticeship enhancements with community colleges and high schools. I’d continue to invest in high school and community college vocational training. I’d also make investments in law enforcement training and mental health programs. I also believe in equal pay for equal work. 
  3. Law and order: I would support women’s reproductive rights and family planning. I’d make it a requirement that county sheriffs and state’s attorney adhere to provisions of any governor’s declaration of emergency. I’d put forth laws requiring a permit, training, licensing and insurance for ownership of military-style weapons. I’d back laws that protect care givers, librarians, medical staff and teachers from threats and abuse. I’d invest in high school violence and suicide prevention programs. 
State Rep. Andrew Chesney, R-Freeport, is campaigning for Illinois Senate in District 45.

Andrew S. Chesney 

Age: 40 

Family: Married  

Hometown: Shannon, IL 

City of Residence: Freeport 

Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Arts in communications 

Profession: Small business owner

Memberships: Illinois Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. 

Political experience: Illinois state representative since 2018

Major Endorsements: Illinois Farm Bureau – Activator, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Fraternal Order of Police, Sheriffs of Illinois – PAC. 

List the top three issues in your race and how you plan to address each them if elected. 

  1. Crime: In northwest Illinois, we are starting to see Chicago-style crime in our communities due to the state-wide pro-criminal policies put forward by progressive Democrats. That’s why I will always back the blue and support a full repeal of the inept and dangerous anti-police laws passed last year known as the Safe-T Act. 
  2. Taxes: Time and again, Democrats in the General Assembly and governor’s office turn to taxpayers to fix their spending problems. Illinois government needs to cut wasteful spending, not rely on the hard-earned money our residents worked for. That why I, as your next state senator, will stand behind retirees, new workers and the middle class and put a stop to the tax and spend policies of those in control in Springfield. 
  3. Corruption: It is making news again and again in Illinois. We need tougher ethics laws that actually put a stop to pay-to-play politics in Illinois. I pledge my support with reform-minded people to finally end this corrupt scheme plaguing our system and the state of Illinois. 

A Rockford Register Star reporter since 2005, Jeff Kolkey writes about city government, politics, trends in the Rockford region and more. He is a Rockford resident, a married father of two and a White Sox fan. He can be reached at  (815) 987-1374, via email at jkolkey@rrstar.com and on Twitter @jeffkolkey.

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October 27, 2022 at 08:44AM

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