In the race for state Representative of the 50th District, a pair of long-term community activists will face each other on Tuesday, Nov. 2. Incumbent Republican Kay Hatcher seeks her second term, while Democrat challenger Linda Healy is running for her first elected office.
Kay Hatcher, Incumbent
Family: Husband, Steve; four adult children, plus six grandchildren
Education: Boston College Carroll School of Management; Management Certificate Program, Corporate Communications
Employment: Full-time legislator, State Rep. 50th District
â€¢Â Oswego School Board 1985-1991
Kendall County Board 1991-1996, 2002-2008 Economic Development and Zoning Chair.
â€¢Â President, Kendall Forest Preserve 2002-2008
â€¢Â Member of the General Assembly 2008-Present
â€¢Â Illinois Lincoln Series: Lincoln Fellow 1999
â€¢Â State President, Illinois Federation of Republican Women 2004-2005
â€¢Â Governor, Illinois Lincoln Series 2006-2008
â€¢Â Precinct Committeeman: 1996-2008
Community Involvement: Decades of service on numerous boards of many organizations. Received the 2009 Legislator of the Year Award from the Metro West Council of Government
Kay Hatcher said she is running for her second term to continue to fulfill the pledge she made after her initial run.
â€œAs a brand new legislator, I pledged to residents two years ago that I would work to restore ethics, grow jobs and return fiscal responsibility to our state. I have kept that promise,â€ Hatcher said. â€œI’m running to continue the fight to create a job-friendly state that pays its bills on time and crafts a responsible, balanced budget that treats our residents with dignity. I’m running to advance a well-educated workforce that thrivesâ€”and in turn helps bring Illinois back to solvency.â€
To help accomplish that, she sponsored HB1173, a bill that requires line-by-line approval of any appropriations.
â€œThis Pay As You Go fiscal tool is just what it says: If you are going to implement a new program, remove a nonperforming program with the same funding requirements,â€ Hatcher said. â€œIt makes government more efficient at many levels, and reflects what each of us is doing in our own families. Don’t spend what you don’t have.â€
While it may be tempting for lawmakers to raise taxes to help the state begin to resolve its budget woes, Hatcher said that should not be a legitimate consideration. Armed with a lifetime of economic development experience working in the private sector, as well as her time working with taxing bodies and nonprofit organizations, Hatcher said she learned an important lesson.
â€œRaising taxes may have a small initial revenue increase, but ultimately will have a negative impact on the very entities paying those taxes,â€ Hatcher said.
She said the state needs to reform state pension and Medicaid programs, freeze new programs and stick with a dedicated debt repayment program.
â€œRevenue modifications absolutely must not even be considered unless there are significant and quantifiable reforms,â€ she said.
During her first term, Hatcher said she saw why reform is difficult to achieve.
â€œA huge issue is political partisanship blocking needed reforms: I was named Legislator of the Year for my ability to bring both sides of the table together to solve problems,â€ she said. â€œMany years of working one-on-one with our municipalities, townships and counties on the DuKane Valley Council fine-tuned that ability.â€
According to Hatcher, Advance Illinois, a bipartisan education group, recently issued a scathing statement on Illinois’ education system, issuing a â€œDâ€ rating.
â€œBillions of federal dollars for education have been provided to Illinois in stimulus money,â€ she said. â€œThat funding was dumped into the budget rather than dedicated to education programs. Ensuring our schools are paid all of their state funding and budgeting to offset the loss of these dollars has to be a top priority if we are to succeed.â€
Linda Healy, Challenger
Family: Widowed, married to Mark Healy Jr. for 42 years, three children, three grandchildren
Education: B.S. in Education from Illinois State University, Certificate of Business Administration from University of Illinois, Chicago
Employment: Five years as a teacher in Batavia schools, 25 years as executive director of Mutual Ground, Inc. the domestic violence and sexual assault agency
Political background: First-time candidate
Community involvement: Past member of American Association of University Women, Zonta and Women in Management, and member of New England Congregation Church in Aurora
For first-time candidate Linda Healy, the decision to run for office was born from witnessing the partisan bickering that has damaged the entire state.
â€œI have been the recipient of the decisions being made in Springfield for the past 25 years,â€ she said. â€œI am so frustrated with the partisan politics that is happening.â€
She said her experiences have taught her how to work with people of all political viewpoints.
â€œI have worked with and respected legislators on both sides of the aisle,â€ she said. â€œI have a track record of working with people who share opposing viewpoints and yet got the job done. If elected I will push for an end to partisan politics and put â€˜people over politics.â€™â€
While Healy may be a newcomer to politics, she is no stranger to Springfield. Through her role as executive director at Mutual Ground, she has spent two days each month in the stateâ€™s capitol working with other directors from around the state.
â€œI have testified at hearings for the legislators and worked on getting bills passed that dealt with domestic violence and sexual assault. I will be a watch dog for social service and education. I will be an independent voice and not be led by party politics or leaders.â€
She said the stateâ€™s fiscal situation is so dire that while unpopular, a tax increase ultimately will occur.
â€œWe must be sure all of this money goes into social service and education and not the black hole of Springfield,â€ Healy said. â€œWe need to make some cuts and changes in the pension system, but that is a long-term solution, not short term.â€
She said that a forensic audit should be the first step in showing the legislators the full scope of the budget and how it is set up; something she said would help the legislature take a more active role than it has in the recent past.
â€œI was so disappointed when the legislators sent the budget back to the governor after 12 hours and told him to set it,â€ Healy said. â€œNow they are going to gripe about what he did and say they were not responsible for the decisionsâ€”that’s exactly what happened last year.â€
As a former educator and someone who has spent decades working with children and families, she said that education must be a priority. Healy said she is well aware of the importance of programs like music, art and athletics, the positive impacts of having smaller classroom sizes, adequate staffing levels, and access to early education programs and technology.
â€œI will utilize my experience in the classroom and my community involvement to communicate with parents and fight for local control to ensure that children in the 50th (District) have access to every opportunity available,â€ Healy said.