Hatcher has competition from Wheeler, McQuillan
Three Republican candidates are running for State Representative in the 50th District, incumbent Kay Hatcher of Yorkville, and challengers Keith R. Wheeler of Oswego and Bob McQuillan of Geneva. Democratic challenger Linda Healy of Aurora is running unopposed.
Keith R. Wheeler
Keith R. Wheeler said a combination of the struggles in Illinois and his experience of owning his own small business is what led him to run to represent the 50th District.
â€œAs the only small business owner who has real experience creating jobs, I can offer the right solutions to get Illinois back on track,â€ Wheeler said. â€œWith a degree in economics, I have a clear understanding of what will make a difference in reviving the jobs climate in our state.â€
With a Bachelors Degree in economics from the University of Illinois, Wheeler has owned Responsive Network Services LLC for the past 18 years. He is the former Kendall County Republican Central Committee Chairman and current Precinct Committeeman in the Bristol precinct 5.
He is the chairman of the Board of Directors for the Kendall County Food Pantry, chairman of the NFIB Fox Valley Area Action Council for Small Business, member of the Sons of the American Legion, Kane County Farm Bureau and Kendall County Farm Bureau.
Wheeler said these experiences will serve him well when it comes time to address the stateâ€™s difficulties.
Wheeler cited statistics that show that Illinois ranks 48th in economic performance and job creation. With the state $11 billion behind in its current bills and facing an unfunded pension liability of approximately $80 billion, the situation is extreme, he said.
â€œWe deserve better,â€ Wheeler said. â€œAs an experienced small business owner, I have the right plan to make the cost of doing business more affordable in Illinois so that job creators see our state as a viable place to do business and create the jobs that we need now.â€
Wheeler said the first thing the state should focus on is helping create a climate that will lead to job growth. He said the state should make it more affordable to do business in the state. Overhauling the workers compensation system to reduce employer liability costs would be a significant step in the right direction.
â€œPut Illinois on a level playing field with other states by cutting taxes, fees and regulations on small businesses, since small business creates eight out of every 10 new jobs in Illinoisâ€”stop treating Illinois businesses like politicians’ piggy banks,â€ Wheeler said.
He said that while the stateâ€™s personal income tax rate is â€œa respectable flat 3 percent,â€ the problem is that the state ranks in the top 12 in terms of property taxes, in addition to having the seventh highest level of extra taxes and feesâ€”outside of income, sales and property taxesâ€”in the nation.
â€œOver the last decade, nearly 750,000 residents left Illinois for greener pastures,â€ Wheeler said. â€œIt’s easy to see where they went, just look to the states which have no personal income tax. Texas, Washington, and Wyoming are all states with top-tier economic performance and had better than average increases in individual income growth while seeing their population grow.â€
Wheeler said he had a simple approach to resolve this situation: â€œPut the fee levels back to where they were before the Blagojevich years and leave them there.â€
Wheeler said that his first priority after taking office would be to focus on the fiscal crisis facing the state.
â€œLike any family or business, Illinois must live within its means,â€ he said. â€œThe current spend-and-borrow policies are not sustainable, so spending cuts are required.â€
He would look to reform Medicaid and the state pension system as a way to make the largest impact to the stateâ€™s bottom line and balance the budget without a tax increase.
â€œWe are already a very expensive state in a very competitive environment,â€ he said. â€œRevenue to the state grew rapidly in the earlier part of the decade. Our leaders in Springfield just accelerated spending even more rapidly over that time, and now we have to face the problem.â€
To face the problem, Wheeler said Medicaid must be reformed. Eligibility requirements must be returned to where they were six years ago, while being adjusted for inflation, and Medicaid funds must be spent more efficiently.
To address reforms of state pensions, Wheeler said the state must find a balance between employee contributions and their benefits.
â€œIn the case of Illinois’ generous pension benefits, employees should be willing to pay more for the long-term benefit,â€ he said. â€œIt is only common sense to review the idea of defined contribution programs replacing the current unsustainable defined benefit approach in place now.â€
While performing these reforms, Wheeler said it is vital that the state fight the urge to raise taxes as a quick way to increase revenues.
â€œIn order for Illinois to compete with neighboring states and to keep the most productive residents here in our state, state government has to be vigilant in keeping taxes as low as possible,â€ he said.
With an immense list of community service activities that include serving on the board of directors for numerous nonprofit organizations over the past several decades, Kay Hatcher is looking to continue her service as the incumbent representative in the 50th District.
Her first time serving in elected office was in 1985, when she won a race to join the Oswego School Board. She served there until 1991, when she was appointed to the Kendall County Board. Winning the seat in 1992, she continued to serve on the County Board until 1996. In 2002, she became the president of the Kendall County Forest Preserve, a post she held until 2008, the year she won the seat in the 50th District.
â€œExperience counts,â€ Hatcher said. â€œService on the local level, on the school board and county board, taught me how to lead a county from less than 30,000 residents to the second fastest growing county in the United States with an extraordinary changing demographic.â€
It is that breadth of experience that helped lead to a successful first term in Springfield, she said, pointing to her recognition as Legislator of the Year by the Metro West Counciil of Government as an example.
â€œI came to this office understanding the need to keep your core values and still find flexibility in a final piece of legislation,â€ Hatcher said. â€œI see both the fiscal and human side of each decision. I reach for policy, not politics. My vote history reflects that philosophy.â€
She said that as a new representative in Springfield, she plans to continue to bring a new perspective to the legislative process.
â€œI have the fresh eyes, as a brand new legislator, to assess programs objectively,â€ she said.
She said she wants to use that fresh perspective to help Illinois reverse its downward course.
â€œI ran for election to bring back an Illinois we’d all be proud of,â€ Hatcher said. â€œWhen my very first vote as a legislator impeached the governor, the journey back to a better state began.â€
Included in that journey must be a willingness to get back to the basics when it comes to management of the stateâ€™s fiscal challenges, she said.
While serving on the United Way Board, Hatcher helped implement a zero-based budgeting process and said this approach should be utilized in Springfield.
â€œThis state has spent more than it should for many years, and we have to start now to turn that attitude around,â€ Hatcher said. â€œGovernment simply cannot afford government anymore.â€
When given the option, Hatcher chose to serve on the Budget Reform and Accountability Committee to help the state accomplish its philosophical turn-around. She co-sponsored legislation that requires every contract to be put online, a measure that will help the state act in a more fiscally responsible manner.
â€œI think folks are just naturally more careful with public funds when they know 12 million people are looking over their shoulder,â€ she said.
As part of the committee, Hatcher said she is going through the budget line by line to find ways to save the taxpayers money. Included in the exploration is the idea of reforming Medicaid and the state pension system.
She said that while raising taxes would lead to a short-term increase in revenue, the long-term impact would be negative.
â€œIndividuals have less money to invest in their homes, families and communities, and small businesses have less to invest in entrepreneurial opportunities,â€ Hatcher said. â€œSmall businesses would take a double hit because most run their taxes through their individual income reports, and they would be crushed by the governor’s proposed tax increases.â€
Rather than grow state revenues through tax and fee increases, Hatcher said the state should grow its revenues by making decisions that lead to job growth and economic development. She serves on the bipartisan Job Creation Task Force, benchmarking how successful states create and keep jobs. She pointed to the fact that Indiana has a billboard on the state line welcoming Illlinois businesses to enjoy their lower tax structure as an example that Illinois needs to change the way it approaches its economy.
â€œIllinois needs less mandates and more entrepreneurial encouragement,â€ Hatcher said. â€œSupport local efforts. Encourage partnerships between chambers of commerce, business and manufacturing associations, schools, apprenticeships. Reinforce shopping locally and ex-hibiting community prideâ€”it attracts new business.â€
In every effort, Hatcher said the priority is to change the way Illinois government functions.
â€œThe wheels have fallen off the wagon in Springfield, and the chaos affects every single resident of our state,â€ she said. â€œAs a brand new Representative I am working to bring fiscal accountability and public trust back to public service.â€
Geneva resident Bob McQuillan is making his first attempt in politics, saying that the stateâ€™s failures led to his decision to run for office.
â€œPlain and simple, Illinois is in a state of madness,â€ McQuillan said.”
He said that as an average guy from a blue-collar background, he can identify with the residents who feel that politicians are not responding to their needs.
â€œI strongly believe that the issues we face today are the result of the wrong people being elected to public office,â€ he said. â€œOur issues are not Republican or Democrat in nature, we all are responsible for allowing these problems to develop. We will never solve our problems if we continue with the same type of leadership that has been elected over the years.â€
Graduating with a bachelorâ€™s degree in food marketing from St. Josephâ€™s College in 1978 and an MBA in management from St. Josephâ€™s College in 1984, McQuillan went on to a 24-year career in sales and management positions in the consumer package goods industry, working for companies including Quaker Oats and Gaines Foods, among others. He has spent the last eight years as a real estate agent in the Fox Valley.
McQuillan has been involved in local athletics, coaching children in a variety of sports programs, including Geneva Boys Baseball, Geneva Park District Girls Softball and Geneva Park District Boys Basketball.
In September 2008, he worked with three other Geneva residents to found a grassroots watchdog group called FACTS (For Accountable Controlled Tax Savings). The group formed to educate local taxpayers on how local taxing bodies develop their budegets and spend their tax dollars.
â€œMost of our focus over the last 18 months has been the Geneva School District, since they are the largest local taxing body,â€ McQuillan said.
Since its formation, the group has grown to include more than 260 members.
Based on his experience with his tax accountability group, McQuillan said he has demonstrated a willingness to ask tough questions of those in power.
â€œI have demonstrated that I am not afraid to ask tough questions and push for solutions to today’s issues,â€ he said. â€œI believe that it is the right time for an average person who understands the needs and thoughts of the community to step up and run for public office.â€
When beginning to approach the stateâ€™s budget crisis, McQuillan said the first thing to do is take the option of a tax increase off the table.
â€œI will not support any tax increase in any form,â€ he said.
He said that the state can save between 15 and 20 percent without a reduction in services by conducting what he called a â€œtrue, forensic audit of all state spending.â€ This audit will seek to eliminate all corruption, waste and duplication of services and positions.
In addition, the state should operate with complete transparency, making all decisions and expenditures viewable by the public online. Operating in a transparent manner can also go a long way toward restoring the publicâ€™s trust in Illinois state government, he said.
â€œThis can only be accomplished by being honest with the public every step of the way,â€ McQuillan said. â€œPersonal agendas need to be eliminated, and everyone needs to be accountable for their actions.â€
He said that while there is much blame to place at the feet of those in Springfield, elected officials are not the only people who are part of the problem in Illinois.
â€œAt the same time, the public needs to take responsibility for allowing government to spin out of control,â€ McQuillan said. â€œIllinois residents must become educated on the major issues facing all of us and support those representatives and senators who are working for the public welfare and not for their individual gain.â€
Linda Healy did not respond to requests for information for this article.