Republican voters in the new 106th House District cannot complain about a lack of options in their March 20 primary election.
Five newcomers are on the ballot, making the 106th House race one of only four in the state with five candidates from the same party running for the same seat. There is no Democratic candidate in the largely rural and conservative district north of Champaign County.
None of the candidates has been elected to the Legislature before, but one (Tom Bennett) has been elected to the Parkland College board, one (Scott McCoy) had been elected mayor of Pontiac, and another (Brian Gabor) has been a Pontiac alderman for nine years. The other candidates are Josh Harms of Watseka and Richard Thomas of Dwight.
Politically the five range from Gabor, who has been endorsed by the Livingston County tea party and wants to eliminate the state EPA and build more state prisons, to Thomas, who said he supports a progressive Illinois income tax and favors an optional Medicare program for everyone in the country.
The candidates' positions on issues come from a variety of sources, including their websites and questionnaires they filed with The News-Gazette, the Chicago Tribune and Bloomington radio station WJBC.
Tom Bennett: Opposed to extending the current higher income tax rates. Favors reinstating the death penalty. Opposed to a sales tax on services. Supports term limits for legislators, and suggested 10 years for state representatives and eight years for senators. Also supports term limits for legislative leaders. Favors concealed carry gun law in Illinois. Supports requiring a photo identification to vote, and to use SNAP (food stamps). Favors restricting purchase of certain products with SNAP card. Favors electing University of Illinois trustees. Would not favor a program to release non-violent offenders from state prison. "People go to prison for a reason. However, there may be some proven programs found across the country that offer promise and deserve consideration. However, more research is needed before changes are made."
Brian Gabor: Said current state retirees should get all of their benefits but that current employees "will need to pay more for their benefits." Favors stricter eligibility standards for Medicaid. Wants to repeal last year's 67 percent income tax increase. On the death penalty, says "it's a good tool when used properly. I am not saying it is perfect, but I would support reinstating it." Opposes a sales tax on services. Favors term limits of eight years for governor, 10 years for state senators and representatives. Favors passage of concealed carry gun law. Supports requiring a photo identification card to vote and to use SNAP card. Favors restricting purchase of certain products with SNAP card. Would oppose releasing certain non-violent offenders to ease prison crowding. "Prisoners should be required to serve the full term they were sentenced to."
Josh Harms: Said current state employees and retirees should not have benefits cut but that all new hires should go into a defied contribution retirement program. Said he will not take campaign contributions from special interest groups or businesses. Favors spending cuts in all areas except those that would impact local property taxes or services for the disabled. Said that public employees should have the right to bargain collectively and that Illinois should become a right-to-work state. Can cut Medicaid spending by setting up health savings accounts for all Medicaid recipients that would "build responsibility into the system." Would repeal the corporate income tax and allow the personal income tax increase to expire as scheduled. Would oppose a graduated income tax and a broader sales tax on services. Supports term limits of 10 years in the House, and two four-year terms for the governor. Opposes term limits for senators.
Scott McCoy: Opposed to pension changes for state retirees and current employees, but that "new hires will have to be put on a new system." Favors tighter eligibility standards for Medicaid. Opposed to extending the 67 percent income tax increase. Uncertain about a broadened income tax to include retirement and Social Security income. Said he would be open to the "possibility of reinstating the death penalty." Opposed to sales tax on services. Said he favors terms limits of eight years in the House, 12 years in the Senate and eight years for constitutional offices. Supports concealed carry gun law in Illinois. Favors requiring a photo ID to vote and to use SNAP card. Uncertain about early release from prison for some nonviolent offenses.
Richard Thomas: Favors "returning at least some of the pension responsibility to the local districts which negotiate contracts," but said that "is only a partial solution." Supports tax incentives for business only if they are "linked to good jobs creation and maintenance." Laments "the fact that we have 50 million working Americans without health care. We can't compete in the first world when we spend more than any other country and get less for it." Said all Americans should be eligible for Medicare and would pay for it with a monthly premium based on income. Supports collective bargaining rights for public employees. Said he would repeal the 67 percent sales tax increase, but supports a progressive income tax. Said the cost to maintain prisons and inmates "is astronomical" and that it "would be way more economical to decriminalize certain non-violent crimes and make them medical issues instead of criminal issues."