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BATAVIA – Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan was blamed for all of the state's problems at Thursday’s League of Women Voters of Central Kane County candidate forum in the Batavia City Council chambers.
State Rep. Dan Ugaste, R-Geneva, laid most of the state’s ills at the feet of the powerful Chicago Democrat, charging that the longtime speaker is a one-man roadblock to political reform.
Ugaste is being challenged in his bid for reelection by Democratic nominee Martha Paschke of Geneva, a political activist and founding member of the Kane-Kendall chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
The two candidates generally hewed to traditional Republican and Democratic positions, respectively, when taking questions from the League’s Susan Russo of Batavia.
For example, Paschke expressed support for the proposed Fair Tax Amendment that will appear on the Nov. 3 election ballot, while Ugaste is opposed.
“We know that our current tax structure hurts the poor and the middle class,” Paschke said.
Ugaste used Madigan as a punching bag and sought to tie Paschke with the House speaker.
“My opponent is going to bring about the status quo. Because whether she will admit to it or not, she is supported fully by the speaker,” Ugaste said. “Her campaign is funded by the speaker and those who work with him.”
Paschke ignored Ugaste’s charge concerning Madigan, but quickly refuted another.
“Despite what my opponent says, I am not in favor of taxing retirement income,” Paschke said, responding to what is standard GOP argument against the Fair Tax Amendment.
But Ugaste would not let go of Madigan as the cause of the state’s problems.
“There is an obstacle to a lot of this that’s in Springfield. Nothing moves through the House of Representatives unless the speaker approves of it,” Ugaste said.
“Until we get a change of leadership in Springfield and the speaker is no longer controlling every bill that comes through, nothing’s going to happen any different and it’s fantasy to believe otherwise,” Ugaste said.
Paschke focused on social issues, and said the legislature needs to address racial profiling and police violence, with police body cameras, better police training and citizen review boards.
“We need to be holding police accountable and not giving them free reign to murder people,” Paschke said.
On the issue of affordable housing, Paschke said the state needs to better enforce its requirement that 10% of the housing in a community be classified as affordable.
Ugaste said he supports affordable housing but does not believe that further measures need to be taken.
Paschke and Ugaste said they support legislative ethics reform in the state.
“Everybody knows that trust has been broken in Illinois by politicians for way too long,” Paschke said.
Lawmakers should not be allowed to become lobbyists until they are out of office for at least three to five years, Paschke said, adding that pensions should be taken away from government officials who are charged with felonies.
Ugaste said he would settle for a two-year minimum before lawmakers may become lobbyists, once again targeting Madigan as the reason no ethics legislation has moved forward.
“There has been one person holding their foot on ethics reform in Illinois for 10 years,” Ugaste said.
The two candidates did find agreement on the question of creating an independent commission to draw legislative boundaries.
Paschke is an intake coordinator with a St. Charles mental health clinic and previously taught social studies in the Yorkville, Geneva and St. Charles school districts.
The 65th District takes in a small portion of Batavia’s northwest side, extending north all the way into Huntley in McHenry County.
In between, the district covers large parts of the west sides of Geneva, St. Charles, South Elgin and Elgin, as well as rural areas and villages to the northwest.