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GENEVA – Former state representative Steve Andersson announced his support for Democrat Martha Paschke to be elected the 65th House District in the Nov. 3 general election over incumbent Republican Daniel Ugaste.
Andersson spoke during an outdoor press conference held on the front lawn of a professional center on James Street in Geneva Tuesday. Anderssson, Ugaste and Paschke are all Geneva residents.
Paschke said she was honored to receive Andersson’s endorsement.
Ugaste said Andersson is no longer the representative in the 65th District because he voted to increase the state income tax to 4.95% from 3.75% in 2017.
“Steve can do what he wants. That’s up to him,” Ugaste said. “If he wants to rail against me he’s unhappy he’s no longer in the seat – he took a vote that was unpopular in the district. I’m down there doing the job I was sent to do: Hold the line on taxes, working to be fiscally responsible to the state and also to bring ethical government to Illinois.”
Andersson, himself a Republican, said at the time, that he voted for the increase to save the state from financial disaster.
Andersson said he was endorsing Paschke over Ugaste, based on a single word.
“And that word is ‘silence.’ … And there’s two ways that I would characterize that word,” Anderson said. “What I was shocked to see, was that in two years, the current representative has not passed a single bill into law.”
A more telling example is when Ugaste was not asked to take any bills coming from his Senate colleagues and work on passing them in the House, Andersson said.
“The Senate GOP is not picking Dan Ugaste to be that person to run their bill. That is amazing,” Andersson said. “I’ve not seen anything like that. That suggests to me there’s a lack of trust or a lack of energy – if nothing else – on Dan’s part, coming from his own Republican colleagues in the other chamber. That’s disturbing."
Ugaste said he works with his colleagues across the aisle and colleagues in the Senate.
Candidate night questions
But it was Ugaste’s responses to various questions at a recent League of Women Voters candidate night that solidified Andersson’s position that he would publicly endorse Paschke instead of the incumbent Republican.
“To watch Dan sit there and say, ‘I don’t know what you mean by police violence.’ It’s not a quote, it’s a paraphrase, but it’s pretty close,” Andersson said. “How can you not know? How in this day and age, how can you not know? How far does your head have to be in the sand to not know we have issues with police violence?”
A few minutes later, Ugaste was asked about what he would do to address affordable housing, Andersson said.
“He once again, said, ‘I’m not aware of any issue with affordable housing. If there is an issue, someone should bring it to me.’ Unbelievable. Unbelievable,” Andersson said.
Then Ugaste was asked about what did he think should be done to create an affirming environment for LGBTQ students in school, Andersson said.
“His answer was, ‘We have laws on the books for that, I don’t think there’s any issue with that.’ Are you kidding me to suggest there are no inequities with regard to the LGBTQ community – that typically has one of the highest rates of suicide among students? You think there’s nothing at issue with that?” Andersson said.
“That drove me to this stand here today to speak in favor of Martha,” Andersson said. “I need a representative who is willing to speak up on the issues of the day and is willing to be an energetic enthusiastic advocate in Springfield. As we stand here today, I don’t have that.… But in a few days, that will change when Martha Paschke is our representative.”
65th no longer hard-core GOP
Andersson said the 65th District – which extends from Batavia north to Hampshire – used to be a hard-core Republican area, but not so much any more.
“So hard, in fact, that usually the only election that mattered was the primary,” Andersson said. “A Democrat would not have a real shot. That’s not the case any more. This is, if anything, a 50-50 district.”
The elected representative for the 65th District “needs to be someone who is willing to address sides of the issue, not just one side of the issue,” Andersson said.
“When you’re elected, you’re no longer ’the Republican.’ You’re the representative for the whole district,” Andersson said. “You have to have an open mind and be willing to listen to what both sides of that equation say … because it’s a spectrum.”
Most people in the district are not hard Republican or hard Democrat, but are more in the middle, on a spectrum, he said.
“So the person I want in that seat is the person who reflects that,” Andersson said.
Paschke reflects Andersson's views
He and Paschke met while he was still the district’s representative, as she was seeking support for small business in their access to quality health care.
They met again, he said, as an advocate on social issues in the area.
“She’s always been there for those sorts of issues,” Andersson said. “And this is for me, personally, she reflects my view on most – not all – social issues.”
Andersson then gave Paschke the pin new Illinois lawmakers get when they are first elected.
Paschke said she has long admired Andersson’s leadership.
“Think we can all agree that we are living in a very divided country,” Paschke said. And now more than ever, people are looking for leaders who will work hard, and collaboratively, move us forward, and build up our community. … I’ve been an active leader in our community, working with nonprofits, small business owners, faith leaders … to find ways to strengthen our community. This is the same work ethic I will bring to Springfield as State Representative.”
Ugaste said because Andersson voted for an income tax increase, voters could expect the same from Paschke regarding the referendum on the Nov. 3 ballot approving a graduated income tax in Illinois.
“Steve Andersson told people he would not pass a tax increase and voted for a permanent large (income) tax increase,” Ugaste said. “Martha Paschke is supporting this latest (income) tax increase. If it does not pass, Democrats say there will be a 20% across the board (income) tax increase. If she is elected, and Steve aligns with her, I guess you know how she will vote. She will vote to increase taxes as well.”