In preparation for the March 18 Primary Election, Suburban Life Media contacted local candidates to gauge their views on various issues. Below are the responses received from Antonio Favela and Kathleen Willis, who are running in the Democratic race for Illinois House District 77. Some answers have been edited for length.
Antonio Favela (challenger)
Town: Melrose Park
Education: Juris Doctor from The John Marshall Law School
Current employment: Board member of Melrose Park Village Planning and Zoning Board
Why do you think you are suited for this office? What experiences do you have that lend well to serving in this position if elected?I am passionate about the community live in. I was taught the importance of service above self from a very young age. I’ve been an educator, a volunteer with various organizations, and a leader in my community. As a lawyer I am familiar with the legislative process.
Why are you seeking office?I am running because my opponent represents everything that is wrong with Illinois politics. She was a lifelong Republican that switched parties overnight simply for the chance to be representative. The leadership of the Democratic party has given her an obscene amount of money and essentially bought her allegiance. She is accountable to them and not the people. A true representative of the people is needed.
What are the biggest differences between yourself and your opponent? The differences between us can be seen by how we run our campaigns. My opponent’s people have intimidated my supporters and tried to discredit me from the beginning. ... Instead of earning a person’s vote through discussion, she hopes to win through the mailbox with generalized statements and false attacks. How can we expect her to run a clean government if she cannot run a clean campaign?
What is the biggest challenge facing Springfield, and what would you do to address it?The most pressing issue for Illinois is our dismal financial state. Without getting a handle on the state’s finances we cannot move forward and address other important issues like education. ... We have almost 7000 units of government in Illinois. ... We can consolidate some of these units of government to save money and time for taxpayers. Additionally, I am in favor of a progressive tax system that would ease the tax burden on 94% of the hardworking Illinoisans and bring in added revenue.
Do you support the recent state pension reform bill, and why?I believe that the pension reform bill that was passed is unconstitutional. I would have voted against the pension reform bill.
How would you improve the business climate in Illinois? ... Small businesses account for most employment (60-70 %) and job growth opportunities in this country. Therefore we should work to foster the growth of small businesses through incubators or small business development centers. Through use of targeted public and private capital, shared resources and business management, and collaboration amongst participants; these centers, operating as places of intellectual innovation, would foster job growth and material success.
Why should voters vote for you? Our district deserves a representative that is accountable to the people that live in it. My opponent has proved only one thing. That her beliefs are for sale to the highest bidder. I am running an independent grassroots campaign. I have not received any assistance from the party leadership, and have in fact been attacked by them for challenging the status quo.
Kathleen Willis (incumbent)
Education: Master's degree in library sciences
Current employment: State representative of the 77th District
Why are you seeking re-election?I am seeking re-election because I feel that much work remains to be done to strengthen our communities, create more jobs, and to provide a higher-quality education for our children.
What do you count as your biggest accomplishments in Springfield?Since taking office I have worked to support legislation that benefits my constituents, including supporting the passage of a fiscally responsible budget, the passage of marriage equality, increased efficiencies to the community care program. Further, I refused to take a state pension upon taking office and voted to lower my own pay.
What are the biggest differences between yourself and your opponent?As a former member of the Addison School Board, and a mother of four, I understand the challenges faced by working families trying to balance a budget. At the school board, we would have to work to ensure that we were living within our means while working to improve our quality of education. My experience, I feel, is very important for a representative to have while working to represent his or her constituents.
What is the biggest challenge facing Springfield, and what would you do to address it?Illinois must begin to encourage job growth by first creating a more fiscally stability. Without fiscal stability, businesses are less likely to expand operations and hire more employees. Fiscal stability requires the state to live within its means. During my first term, I was very encouraged that we passed a balanced budget and paid down a $2 billion backlog of old bills.
Do you support the recent state pension reform bill, and why?My priority has been and will continue to be to support pension reform legislation that I believe is feasible, minimizes the impact on retirees, and includes only changes that are absolutely necessary. It is clear something had to be done to address the state’s pension crisis. ... The state and its pension systems are facing a fiscal crisis. The General Assembly had to act in order to avoid further destruction or harm to the state’s fiscal condition, particularly its credit rating.
How would you improve the business climate in Illinois?In order to attract businesses and encourage job creation, we must focus on infrastructure investment and workforce development. Illinois must maintain our strong network of transportation as a means to not only attract businesses to utilize our network of airports, expressways, and rail, but also as a means to create jobs for working families.
Why should voters vote for you?I have worked very diligently to create and maintain an active constituent service office that responds quickly to the needs and concerns of the residents of the 77th District. Since taking office I have held many outreach events including educational seminars and workshops on everything from assisting the unemployed learn how to write resumes to assisting seniors utilize new technologies to stay connected to their families. ...