State Rep. Sid Mathias (R-Buffalo Grove) and State Rep. Carol Sente (D-Vernon Hills, met last week at a Buffalo Grove Chamber of Commerce meeting to share their platforms and answer citizens' questions.
The two will face off in the 59th District, which Sente currently represents. Mathias, who has long represented the 53rd District, will find himself within the 59th this fall due to redrawn political boundaries.
Slot machines at race tracks and state pension reform were among the topics they addressed at the June 5 event in Buffalo Grove. Highlights from their responses are below; their complete comments can be heard in the videos attached at right.
On pension reform:
Mathias: “I can tell you what I don’t want it to do. I do want it to be on the backs of local taxpayers. I do not want the bill that was presented by Speaker Madigan, I think he still believes in that, that the monies to pay for it should be shifted to local school districts … we just can’t afford it. So they have to do something. They can fire teachers or they can raise taxes, and I just don’t think that’s a fair way to balance this. So, solutions can be made. I think there has to be more contributions. I think there’s no question that the participants have to contribute more. That wasn’t even on the table in that last bill."
Sente: "I am in favor of a thoughtful reform of our pension system," Sente said. "Conceptually, I am in favor of having some type of a cost shift as long as it is affordable by the local governmental entities."
"Some responsibility for the pension increases that you’re getting, I think, are important, but not to the point that it would push it to the taxpayers. I think we’re very close. I don’t know if everyone knows, but legislators are also voting on the same change to their own pension system. So there’s hope there, and hopefully the change we’re making will be good for everyone."
On slot machines at race tracks
Mathias: Since I’ve been in the legislature, I’ve voted against all bills expanding gambling with one exception, and that one exception was the recent bill, in my opinion, to save Arlington [Park] … If slots at the track is taken out of the bill that’s just passed the General Assembly, without that, I will not support that bill. However, I have to recognize that Arlington is important to the school districts, to the economy, to the jobs in the area. Basically, I think they are right in their economic plan that if this does not go through and we continue just to increase casinos, which has hurt Arlington, they’re going to close and I think that would be catastrophic."
Sente: "I voted against the recent gambling bill. For me, it was an extremely large bill that had too many casinos, too many machines and slots in too many places. The reason is just some of the social consequences of gambling … it’s not the way I want to generate revenue in Illinois or fix the budget."
"As a business owner, the idea of having [Arlington Park], that’s been around for while, struggle and close would be very distressing to me. So an individual bill that would help Arlington would be something I might be open to. I’d have to read what such a bill was. But we didn’t have that before us."
On their platforms
Mathias noted that he has more than a decade of experience in the 53rd District, and he shared a number of his accomplishments. Since he’s been in office, the Illinois Department of Transportation has been required to notify the public of upcoming projects and Internet safety measures have been put in place for children, he said. Mathias has also supported the Route 53 extension and helped secure funding for local road projects, he said.
“I’m a proven leader who continues to reach across the aisle to work with all leg to deliver results and I’m looking forward to the honor to continuing to serve as your state rep and I will continue to be an independent voice for the 59th legislative district in Springfield,” he said.
Sente, who was appointed to office in 2009, spoke of her ongoing efforts to connect with constituents at town hall meetings, coffees and other events.
“My candidacy is about accessibility, transparency and reform,” she said.
“I want to listen and hear what they have to say because I want to be able to represent them,” she said. “What is important to District 59 are lower taxes — particularly property taxes — more jobs, control of the budget and government reform. These are the common themes that I hear. They, and I, also want our representatives to be public servants again and not career politicians. They want us to serve them in their best interest. As a citizen legislator, I’m a strong independent voice in Springfield that allows me that opportunity, and as a small business owner I can represent the voices of business that want to grow here in Illinois."
Previously on Patch: