There will be no shortage of candidates vying to succeed retiring state legislator Kay Hatcher in the Illinois House of Representatives.
The March 18 primary will decide which of the four Republican candidates – Julie Cosimo of Oswego, Beth Goncher of Aurora, Keith Wheeler of Oswego and Bill Keck of Sugar Grove – will compete for the 50th District state representative post in November’s general election.
Former Yorkville mayor Valerie Burd is the sole Democrat seeking the office.
Wheeler, a 46-year-old small business owner, challenged Hatcher in the 2010 primary. He said the issues that were critical four years ago remain critical. Illinois, he said, needs to create more jobs. His work with the Kendall County Food Pantry – he chairs the board of directors – has brought him closer to the issue, he said.
“I see the numbers,” he said.
Wheeler said he has developed a four-pronged plan, which he will release under the title “Illinois Jobs for Illinois Families.” Components include making Illinois affordable for business and conducting a forensic audit of state spending, he said.
Goncher, 43, also wants to focus on jobs.
The single mother said she has seen jobs in Illinois disappear as her teenage son has grown.
“It really makes me mad,” Goncher said, adding Illinois overtaxes and over regulates.
She said she would want to ensure the tax breaks given to businesses are fair, and she would want to look at the workman’s compensation system.
Through her work as a longtime legislative aide for State Rep. Tim Schmitz, Goncher said she understands how the legislative process works, knows the issues and knows how people feel about the issues.
Cosimo, meanwhile, oversees the career development office at Benedictine University and helps students and alumni get into the workforce. She founded and ran a small business earlier in her career.
“I know what challenges small business owners go through,” she said.
A strong education system is key to developing an attractive and successful workforce, said Cosimo, 47. She said she would be dedicated to creating legislation establishing a comprehensive workforce readiness and job creation plan that prepares individuals to enter the workforce and meets the needs of employers.
Because of a broken ankle, Cosimo said she hasn’t been as visible in the campaign as she would like to be. She noted she intends to quit her full-time job if elected.
Keck, who served as Kane County auditor for 20 years, believes his auditing experience can make a difference, he said.
He noted his concern about the state’s finances prompted him to run for state representative.
Other issues Keck, 74, said he would like to tackle include pension reform, balancing the budget and improving efficiency. He expects he would be able to work across the aisle, he said.
“Hopefully, I can be effective,” Keck said.
The 50th District covers much of southwest Kane County and northern Kendall County.