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Endorsement and referendum recap

Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 11:35 a.m. CDT

Endorsement: Illinois governor (R) – Rauner

By SHAW MEDIA

Illinois has big problems.

Years of fiscal mismanagement and incompetent leadership have compromised the state’s economic future.

Illinois’ five public pension systems are underfunded by more than $100 billion.

The state ended 2013 with more than $7 billion in unpaid bills.

lllinois’ credit rating has been downgraded five times since 2011, meaning taxpayers must pay much more in interest when the state borrows money.

Moody’s Analytics predicted that Illinois will be dead last among all 50 U.S. states in job growth in 2014.

It’s clear that those running state government have failed and change is long past due.

On March 18, Republican primary voters have an opportunity to select the candidate they want to run against Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in the November general election.

State Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard are making a second run for the office. (Brady won the GOP nomination four years ago before losing a close election to Quinn.) Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford also is running, though his campaign has been rocked by sexual harassment charges leveled by a former staffer. Rounding out the field is businessman Bruce Rauner, whom we endorse.

Rauner is not a career politician. In fact, this is his first run for public office. He supports term limits and, if he is elected, pledges to serve only two terms.

He’s independently wealthy and will not be beholden to the special interest groups that have helped to corrupt Springfield. He will not be afraid to stand up to the powerful public employee unions that have resisted change. His wealth was not given to him. He earned it during a lifelong career as an investor and businessman.

Rauner is blunt when assessing the state’s many problems. Workers’ compensation is crushing businesses and an impediment to job growth. Despite a recent reform measure, public pensions are overly generous and unsustainable in the long term. The state’s tax system is unduly burdensome to both taxpayers and businesses and needs to be reformed.

Rauner knows big changes need to be made to get the state back on the right path.

Despite the many challenges – and the fact that whoever wins the governor’s seat more than likely will have to work with Speaker Michael Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and a Democrat-controlled General Assembly – Rauner is confident he can get the job done.

He has a genuine love for Illinois and a desire to improve the quality of life here.

Rauner also knows his limitations. He admits that he himself doesn’t have all of the answers, but he promises to surround himself with the best and brightest and work as hard as necessary to succeed, just as he has in his professional life.

Rauner has the energy, the charisma and the financial backing to stand up to Quinn in the fall and win.

In the Republican primary for governor, we endorse Rauner.

Endorsement: U.S. Senate – Oberweis

By SHAW MEDIA

Illinois state Sen. Jim Oberweis and Downers Grove businessman Doug Truax square off in the March 18 Republican primary for U.S. Senate, with the winner facing longtime incumbent Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin in November.

Oberweis, of Sugar Grove, owns a successful dairy and asset management business. He is making his third run at a U.S. Senate seat.

This is the first attempt for Truax, managing partner and co-owner of Veritas Risk Services in Oak Brook.

Oberweis has spent the better part of the past decade running for office. After several consecutive losses, he won a seat in the Illinois Senate in 2012.

He said he’s learned from his past campaign mistakes, and is the stronger candidate to take on Durbin in the fall.

A staunch conservative on fiscal and social issues in past campaigns, Oberweis, while still a conservative, seems more willing to work with the other side of the aisle to accomplish goals.

As a state lawmaker, he voted with Democrats last year on a pension reform bill that he acknowledged was far from perfect but the best deal the state could get at the time.

Although it will be an uphill battle, Oberweis offers Republicans the best chance in November. He is endorsed.

Endorsement: 14th Congressional District – Hosta

By KANE COUNTY CHRONICLE EDITORIAL BOARD

In Illinois’ 14th Congressional District, two Democrats are running in the March 18 primary for a chance to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren in November.The 14th Congressional District includes parts of Kane, Lake, Kendall, DuPage, DeKalb and Will counties, and all of McHenry County with the exception of Algonquin Township.

Dennis Anderson of Gurnee, who is retired after working most recently for the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center at the University of Loyola-Chicago as the assistant director for research support, is making his second run for the post after losing to Hultgren in 2012.

John Hosta of Spring Grove is the owner and president of Elite Quilting Co., a manufacturer of custom bedding for interior designers. This is his first run for Congress.

Hosta says he would work to improve what he called weak U.S. trade policies that have wiped out manufacturing jobs in the U.S. And he said he would work with leadership from both parties to improve the Affordable Care Act.

Hosta said there needs to be significant reforms to welfare, food stamps and Medicaid programs to eliminate waste and save tens of billions of dollars. He also says billions of more dollars can be saved by ending or significantly reducing corporate welfare.

We recommend Hosta in the Democratic primary.

Endorsement: 11th Congressional District – Senger

By KANE COUNTY CHRONICLE EDITORIAL BOARD

The Republican primary for the 11th Congressional District is a four-person race between longtime businessman Bert Miller, conservative talk show host Ian Bayne, state Rep. Darlene Senger and Grundy County Board Member Chris Balkema. The winner will oppose Democratic incumbent Bill Foster in November.

We endorse Senger in the March 18 primary. Senger, who has an accounting background and served on the Naperville City Council, has a strong grasp of fiscal issues that will come in handy at the federal level. Her time in Springfield provided a primer in learning how to govern in a divided political environment. Like the rest of the field, Senger is adamant that excessive government regulation must be addressed to create greater economic prosperity and is highly critical of the Affordable Care Act.

Among the other candidates, Balkema is an articulate advocate for conservative principles and has an extensive private sector background with Caterpillar. He contends that crafting smaller bills with “laser focus” would be the most effective way to counteract the gridlock in Washington.

Miller, who – like Balkema – does not reside in the district, is former chairman of the Illinois Manufacturers Association and was a longtime executive at Phoenix Closures, a bottle cap and lid manufacturer in Naperville. Miller considers himself a “peacemaker,” and has a track record of supporting politicians on both sides of the aisle.

Bayne, of Aurora, is a political firebrand who says the public needs politicians willing to be combative in fighting for conservative reforms. He says a complete reform of the country’s “dreadful” education system is needed.

Senger brings the best blend of experience and broad-based knowledge to the race.

Endorsement: 65th Representative District – Ugaste

By KANE COUNTY CHRONICLE EDITORIAL BOARD

In the GOP primary race for the 65th Representative District, three candidates are vying for votes. Attorneys Daniel Ugaste and Steven Andersson are on the ballot, along with business owner Debbie Miller. The 65th District covers areas of Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles, South Elgin, Pingree Grove, Hampshire and Huntley.

If elected, Ugaste said his top priorities would include balancing Illinois’ checkbook so bills could be paid on time, reducing state debt and lowering debt service payments. He also would strive to reform workers’ compensation laws in the state to make them fair for both business owners and workers.

A member of the Geneva Public Library District Board, Andersson would place an emphasis on balancing the budget, if elected, and he would push to implement term limits for elected officials at all levels of state government.

Miller said that if she were elected, her goals would include instituting policies to make sure Illinois supports businesses, which could lead to more jobs, and she would want to make sure Illinois has the best schools, community colleges, universities and trade and technical schools.

Andersson and Ugaste both are strong candidates, but we believe Ugaste has the edge in this race.

He describes himself as having “a very conservative view of government, both fiscally and socially, which reflect the views of the majority of the people in this state representative district.”

Ugaste is endorsed.

Endorsement: 50th Representative District – Wheeler

By KANE COUNTY CHRONICLE EDITORIAL BOARD

Oswego businessman Keith Wheeler has emerged as a community leader. He is the chairman of the Kendall County Food Pantry. He chaired the Kendall County Republican Central Committee in 2008. And he serves on the Bristol Township Board of Trustees.

Wheeler, 46, stands out as the best of a strong list of candidates vying to replace Kay Hatcher as the state representative in Illinois’ 50th District. The district covers much of southwest Kane County, as well as northern Kendall County.

Wheeler understands the concerns that owners of small businesses have, and he would represent them well. He identifies job creation as a top priority, creating a plan called Illinois Jobs for Illinois Families.

Among his opponents, Oswego resident Julie Cosimo works as an administrator at Benedictine University. Improving education is among her missions, as well as creating jobs, reducing spending and holding down taxes.

Aurora resident Beth Goncher has served for 12 years as a legislative aide to state Rep. Tim Schmitz, who is retiring. She knows the job. She would seek to reduce government spending and would aim to help create jobs in Illinois.

Sugar Grove resident Bill Keck, a former Kane County auditor, is the fourth candidate.

Wheeler is a proven leader with a strong business background. He is endorsed.

Endorsement: Kane County sheriff – Williams

By KANE COUNTY CHRONICLE EDITORIAL BOARD

Two candidates – each with a wealth of law enforcement experience – are seeking the GOP nod for Kane County sheriff in the March 18 primary election.

The winner of the Republican primary will face Sgt. Willie Mayes Sr. in the Nov. 4 general election. The post currently is held by Pat Perez, who is not seeking re-election.

Lt. Kevin Williams has been with the Kane County Sheriff’s Office for more than 20 years, while retired Lt. Donald Kramer worked in the office for more than 30 years.

Both have made unsuccessful bids for the position of Kane County sheriff in the past.

If elected, Williams said he would blend current concepts with his own to manage the sheriff’s office, noting that he would continue to work with the Kane County Board, community members and local law enforcement to help build partnerships and maintain safety.

Kramer said that – if he were elected – he would work to create a strong administrative structure in the sheriff’s office that would oversee the operation of each division, leading to improved quality of service.

Williams said he is the type of leader who praises in public and scolds in private, and he believes that everyone in the office should have the same chances for promotions and transfers – and face the same discipline.

Describing himself as a “team builder,” Kramer said that it is important to listen to employees, and he put an emphasis on setting goals and objectives. He said he doesn’t like to implement discipline unless it has to be done.

Both candidates are strong, and we think both could see success as sheriff. We give Williams the slight edge.

Endorsement: Kane County clerk – Cunningham

By KANE COUNTY CHRONICLE EDITORIAL BOARD

Seeking a fourth term as Kane County clerk, incumbent John “Jack” Cunningham touts his experience, his ability to understand the technology that goes with the job and his role as a mediator as reasons to vote for him in the March 18 Republican primary.

His opponent, Kane County Board member Mark Davoust, said he would bring a fresh perspective. Davoust said he would push to get more people to register to vote, saying there should be “a relentless pursuit of educating people, informing people, encouraging people, prodding people to come out and vote.”

While Davoust’s message is laudable, we endorse Cunningham. The clerk has helped guide the county’s election procedures into the system now used today, doing away with older equipment, such as punch cards, and converting to a completely electronic system.

The office’s responsibilities go beyond elections. The clerk maintains vital records – of births, deaths and marriages. Also, Cunningham said he already has taken some steps to improve voter turnout. For instance, he said his office has created a video to inform 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the general election, that they will be able to vote. He said the office’s website itself offers “a wealth of important information.”

In addition, Cunningham’s ability to be a mediator has value – he was acknowledged as having played a role in helping Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen and Coroner Rob Russell reach a compromise in their recent clash over the coroner’s budget.

Experience is important. Cunningham knows how to do the job.

Our View: Sugar Grove library question on primary ballot

By KANE COUNTY CHRONICLE EDITORIAL BOARD

For the 11th time, there will be a request for a tax rate increase for the Sugar Grove Public Library, as officials seek funds that would pay for improvements such as expanded operating hours, more materials and additional programs.

According to information provided by the library, the referendum would raise about $300,000 more in tax revenue. The owner of a $100,000 home would pay $25.64 more a year in taxes, according to officials.

For residents, the question likely will come down to what they expect out of their local library. Those who use the facility will notice the recent effort made to be open more days – now six days a week instead of five. The library is closed Fridays but open for six hours Saturdays and four hours Sundays.

After a difficult period, during which a longtime director was replaced, there has been more unity. And library officials say more people are using the facility, noting checkouts have increased 70 percent over a two-year period. A new coffee shop – Java Plus – opened last year.

But there are those who might be satisfied with the current level of service, or who might not use the library at all. For them, an increase of any kind would be unwelcome.

Those who want their voice heard on the matter are encouraged to vote on the referendum during the March 18 primary election.

Our View: Unincorporated Kane County residents asked to consider electricity aggregation

By KANE COUNTY CHRONICLE EDITORIAL BOARD

Many of the area’s voters will have a chance March 18 to support a referendum that could lead to savings for households and small businesses.

The referendum will ask voters to give the county authority to arrange an electricity aggregation program for unincorporated parts of Kane County.

The measure would cover unincorporated areas in most townships in the county, including St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia, Blackberry, Campton and Sugar Grove. Similar aggregations plans have passed statewide in recent years and in nearby communities such as Montgomery, Oswego and Yorkville, netting many customers there hundreds of dollars in annual savings.

While voting yes would empower the county to seek bids from electricity suppliers other than ComEd, ComEd would continue to send residents their monthly bills and help troubleshoot service issues.

Voters nixed a similar referendum question in 2012, with about 200 votes making the difference.

But proponents of the measure are hopeful that increased education about the program’s merits in the meantime could yield a different outcome.

We encourage voters to give this referendum another look. Especially considering residents would have the right to opt out of the plan if they choose, there appears to be little downside, and the potential for substantial savings.

Our View: Referendum asks for funds to help developmentally disabled

By KANE COUNTY CHRONICLE EDITORIAL BOARD

Voters in Kane County will be asked March 18 whether they are in favor of the county levying an annual tax to help individuals with developmental disabilities.

The primary referendum would authorize a maximum property tax of 0.1 percent of equalized assessed value of all taxable property in the county.

An owner of a home valued at $182,000 would pay about $55 a year, according to the Show You Care Kane organization, which is seeking passage of the referendum.

Benefits from the funds raised – estimated to total about $13 million – would help developmentally disabled people and their families, many of whom are on a state waiting list for assistance.

Money collected would be administered by a disabilities board, also known as a 377 board.

There is no question a need exists.

And funds raised surely would bring relief to a population of people who are unable to advocate for themselves.

More than 1,000 county residents who need help are on a waiting list that continues to grow, according to Show You Care Kane.

But opponents of the measure question the mechanism that would be set up to manage the funds, the additional drain on taxpayers and the total amount of money being requested.

Voters need to take a hard look at this important question, and they need to make a decision on what they think is best for themselves and Kane County.

If residents have any opinion at all on the matter, they need to get out and vote. It’s their judgment call.

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