Sparks Fly During 58th District State Rep. Debate
Democratic candidate Scott Drury and Republican candidate Mark Shaw traded charges of dishonest campaigning and offensive attacks during a Patch-sponsored debate on Sunday.
"He's received tens of thousands of dollars to be elected by Mr. Madigan," Shaw, a criminal defense attorney, said in a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters, Patch and the Union League Club of Chicago.
Drury, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, responded by saying that Shaw "wants to deceive all of you with lies."
"Mr. Shaw's campaign funded by 35 percent Republican party," Drury said, "The biggest contributor to my campaign is me."
Though the candidates agreed on the problems facing Illinois -- namely the need to reform the state's pension system and grow back its revenue -- they continuously attacked each other's proposed solutions.
"I have yet to hear what Mr. Drury's plan is," Shaw said about his opponent's plan to balance the state's budget.
Drury told the crowd he was the sole candidate with a plan, one that would did not rely on drastic cuts to state programs and initiatives.
"Illinois needs to get its pensions in order because that is sucking up our budget," Drury said. "It doesn't mean just pulling the plug on everything today."
When the candidates were asked if they would support shifting the state's pension liabilities to munical school districts, both said no. That didn't stop Shaw from coming after Drury on the topic.
"Shifting of pension liabilities to local school districts is just a trick that sponsor Mike Madigan supports," Shaw said.
Drury, however, explained that he did not think the state should pursue this course.
"I don't believe personal property taxes should be shifted away from the municipalities," Drury said. "Illinois has to get its fiscal house in order before it uses tricks to make it appear the budget has been balanced."
One issue where the candidates outright disagreed was school vouchers. Drury said he was "absolutely against them," while Shaw came out in support of them.
But at the end of the hourlong debate, one point remained shared between the two. The state's economy is in dire need of improvement.
"This election... is about the sorry fiscal state of Illinois," Shaw said.
State senate candidates also debate
Fewer sparks flew between the 29th District State Senate candidates, who also participated in the same portion of Sunday's debate.
Republican candidate Arie Friedman got some laughs when he told the audience how surprised he was to find out just how messy state politics could be.
"I've been pretty shocked at what's going on during my time of running for office," the physician and former Naval aviator said. "Everything you've ever heard about Illinois politics is completely true."
Democratic candidate Julie Morrison, who is the West Deerfield Township Supervisor, agreed with Friedman and the House Represenative candidates that pension reform needed to happen to get Illinois back on track.
"The longer we delay pension reform, the more likely we are for another downgrade and our debt will continue," Morrison said.
When all four candidates were asked about consolidating some of the state's many governing bodies, Morrison suggested combining the Department of Treasury with the Comptroller's office to save $13 million in administrative costs per year.
"The easiest way to get out of the hole is to quit digging it," she said.
Friedman, on the other hand, suggested that consolidation decisions be made at the local level specifically.
"Local governments in Illinois are essentially anonymous and invisible," Friedman said. "I don't believe these decisions should be made from the top down."