Every year, millions of people cast there vote on who should be the leader of the free world. Although knowing the issues and policies of the presidential candidates is important, many voters tend to forget about the state and local officials. But it is, without doubt, just as important to know where state and local officials stand on when it comes to politics. They are more reachable and shape the way our state and cities operate.
Illinois State Senate
Starting with the the Senate, running for the Democrats in District 52 is Scott M. Bennett, who has served in the Senate since January 12, 2015. He has supported bills that stopped the taxation on feminine hygiene products and sponsored Senate Bill 3096, which entails that “every law enforcement agency shall develop, adopt, and implement written policies regarding procedures for incidents of sexual assault or sexual abuse.”
He has also sponsored House Bill 4627, which “[r]equires the governing board of each public university to establish an admissions process in which honorably discharged veterans are permitted to submit an application for admission to the University as a freshman student enrolling in the spring semester if the veteran was on active duty during the fall semester.”
Bennett is also supports raising the minimum wage. He is a sponsor of Senate Bill 0011, which would incrementally raise the minimum wage to $11 by July 1st, 2019.
Running against Bennett is Republican Mike P. Madigan, who also serves as Urbana’s Alderman. He has not had previous experience in the Senate. He is a small business owner — he owns four restaurants — and says that small businesses bring jobs to the community. Madigan’s website states that he will “make small business a priority in Springfield.”
Madigan also wants to throw off the status quo. He wants to enable terms limits, and his website states that he “will limit himself to no more than four Senate terms." He has vouched to “refuse the underfunded and overly generous General Assembly pension and publicly signed the form to decline participation.” Madigan also promises to sign Senate Bill 2171, which would end the General Assembly Retirement System. He also will sign on to House Bill 398, which would end lifetime health care for legislators, and believes that if there is “no balanced budget” then there is “no pay for legislators.”
He is also a strong supporter of the Fair Map Amendment. This amendment deals with the redistricting of Illinois communities. Madigan supports this amendment so that the election process can be fair and the people will benefit from it.
Illinois State House of Representatives
Democrat Carol Ammons is the only candidate running for Illinois State Representative and has held her position since January 14th, 2015. She sponsored House Bill 1326, which was signed into law, preventing “manufacturers from polluting near the Mahomet Aquifer, the primary source of fresh water in the Champaign-Urbana area.”
Ammons was also a sponsor for House Bill 5572, which makes sure that “Sex Offenses and Sex Offender Registration Task Force ensures that law enforcement and communities are able to identify and monitor high-risk sex offenders. The Task Force will hold public hearings to receive input from the public and give recommendations to the General Assembly to effectively classify sex offenders based on individual risk to public safety.”
Ammons also supports progressive taxes, unionization, and collective bargaining and believes that state workers who were promised pensions should be able to collect them in full when they retire.
Running for Comptroller is Republican Leslie Munger, the current Comptroller appointed by Governor Bruce Rauner. Munger believes that Illinois should run as a business and the state should not spend above its means, meaning that we should cut spending.
Munger in July 2016 promoted an online portal called “Open Book.” According to her website, the point of “Open Book” is to compare "campaign data with contract data, such as construction sites or anything that needs a purchase agreement." This gives tax payers the opportunity to see where their money is going.
It should be noted that on the 26 of September, Munger has accepted a $260,000 donation from her husband, which exceeds the donation limits.
Her opponent, Democrat Susana Mendoza, is the Chicago City Clerk and was part of the Illinois House of Representatives from 2001 to 2011 in District 1. One prominent theme of her campaign is the need for money to stay in taxpayers' pockets. She has implemented the Year Round Sales Program, which “dramatically improved the experience of Chicago motorist, but has generated nearly $50 million dollars in new, sustainable revenue for the City without asking taxpayer to pay more.”
“I am committed to being an independent, truth-telling fiscal watchdog” Mendoza states on her website, “who will prioritize both the fiscal and moral health of the State.”
Running against both candidates is Libertarian Claire Ball. She is an accountant for the corporate offices of U.S. Cellular. Her accounting background, she believes, prepares her for the stress of the job and will make her mutual on how the funds of the state and bills are paid. Along with being neutral, Ball wants the taxpayers to know where their money is going and “will establish a list of the priorities detailing what order vendors will, in general, be paid out, and if I deviate from that schedule, I will make the reasoning behind it clear.” Ball also wants to make Internal Expenses transparent so that taxpayers will know where their money is going instead of seeing “Personal Services” on bills.
The last candidate running for Comptroller is Green Party candidate Tim Curtin. He is a retired international Union Representative for United Electrical, Radio, & Machine Workers of America Local 925, the only candidate with a union background. He has plans for both the short and long term. As his websites state, “Short-term, we need to pass House Bill 106, the Financial Transaction Tax. This would allow us to raise $10-12 billion per year from traders who speculate on the markets who currently pay nothing on their trades. Long-term, we need a graduated income tax based on ability to pay.” Curtin’s top priority if elected would be to restore money to “education and and needed social services.”
Champaign Circuit Clerk
For the local elections, Republican Katie Blakeman is the only candidate running for Champaign Circuit Clerk. Blakeman wants to increase accessibility the records both in person and online. She wants to make sure Champaign County “is a leader in the electronic services” and wants to ensure the the best customer service available.
Running for Auditor is Independent George Danos, who is a licensed CPA accountant. Danos’ website states that if he is elected, then his main priority will be to “strengthen the internal controls and conveying messages to all countywide employees that the auditor is an active and firmly objective overseer of county finances. [He] expects to reduce the number of outstanding county issued credit cards and will personally examine their itemizations.” Danos believes that “it should not take 4 months of billings and an outside tip to catch the improper use of a country-issued credit card. Nor should there be 37 such cards outstanding.”
Danos stated that the County should have “an actual accountant” because accountants would “vouchsafe the integrity of the data and work in the trenches alongside the staff.”
His opponent, who has served as Auditor since 2012, is Republican John Farney. Farney has begun “implement[ing] a modern accounting system to replace the current four-decade old system.” The reason for the replacement, as stated by his website, is it “ensures high reporting standards in compliance with the Governmental Accounting Standards Board and generally accepted accounting principles may be achieved.”
Champaign County State's Attorney
Running for the first time is Republican George Vargas. Vargas is a former Army member — honorably discharged, a former Champaign police office, a Major in the Illinois Army National Guard, and is now a Senior Assistant Public Defender with the Champaign County Public Defender’s Office.
Vargas’s goals as States Attorney are “to do everything he can possibly do to keep our citizens safe, ensure that the law is applied equally to everyone, and look at every case individually based on the offense and the individual. In order to achieve these goals, [he] intend on working closely with the police to aggressively prosecute violent offenders, drug dealers and repeat offenders.” Vargas wants to “re-establish the Mental Health Court” and “look at the possibility of other problem solving courts such as Veteran's Court.”
Vargas is campaigning against the current State's Attorney, Democrat Julia Rietz. According to the States Attorney website, Rietz plans on “improving the quality of life of the citizens in the Champaign County by expanding services, while at the same time reducing the financial burden for those services on the taxpayers of Champaign County."
Rietz also plans on “serving to the needs of victims and the community without depriving defendants of their rights under the law, and to adhere to the highest ethical standards in seeking justice - not merely seeking to convict.”
Most of Rietz work primarily deal with children. In her three terms as Champaign County State’s Attorney, she has created the “Champaign County Youths Assessment Center, providing social service referral, support and monitoring of juvenile offenders to keep them out of the court system.”
Champaign County Coroner
Republican Duane Northup is the current County Coroner. According to the News-Gazette, Northrup has “Personally investigated more than 1,200 deaths including homicides, suicides and accidental deaths. As elected coroner of Champaign county” he has “overseen/supervised the investigation of more than 10,000 deaths including homicides, suicides and accidental deaths since 2004.” He Northup has also served on multiple Coroner and death related committees such as being the chair of “Champaign Area Child Death Review Team and vice chair of the Executive Council for all Illinois Child Death Review Teams."
His opponent is Democrat Alexander Rounds. According to Rounds' website, he has served “17 years as an emergency medical technician in Minnesota and North Dakota, 3 years as a professional police officer in Minnesota, 5 years as a reserve police officer in the same state, 7 years as president of Voluntary Organizations Active in disaster in North Dakota, and finally, 35 years as a specialist in information technology.”
Rounds believes that the most important client for the coroner is the public and that the Coroner “should be respectful for law enforcement officers, and should form cooperative working relationships with the investigators from the various agencies within his jurisdiction.”
Champaign County Recorder of Deeds
Champaign County Recorder of Deeds is next on the ballot and with current Recorder Barb Frasca retiring, there are two new candidates in the run.
One candidate is Republican Mark Shelden, who was the Champaign County Clerk before stepping down. Shelden “will prioritize customer service and continue [his] past practice of watching every dollar we spend and looking for ways to deliver more service at a reduced cost.”
In his fourteen years as County Clerk, he “moved the County forwards in technology, data systems, transparency, efficiency, and cost savings” which he presumably plans to do with his position as recorder.
Shelden goals are to “build a digital file to allow online property searches further back in history.” As well as an online portal for property in the county that incorporates zoning, taxing, elections, recording and fraud alerts.”
His opponent is Democrat Matthew Duco, who was an attorney for eight years that dealt with victims of financial and property fraud. Duco’s website states that he will “NOT accept a pay raise as County Recorder. He will be fulltime, fight property fraud by implementing protections for homeowners, never misuse county property for partisan politics, and will serve working families by opening the office on Saturdays.” Duco’s main focus is stopping property fraud.