In the 104th District of the Illinois House, incumbent Chad Hays of Catlin will face Michael Langendorf of Urbana on Nov. 6 for a seat that represents a small portion of Champaign-Urbana, parts of northern Champaign County and much of Vermilion County.
Hays, a Republican, was elected in 2010 and began serving his first term in 2011. This is his first time seeking re-election. Langendorf, a Democrat, is a social worker who works in Vermilion County schools and lives in Urbana.
The district includes part of southwest Champaign, portions of Savoy and Urbana, much of northeast Champaign County, including towns like Thomasboro, Rantoul, Gifford and east to Fithian, Oakwood, Danville and south to Ridge Farm.
Here is a map of the district.
Hays said he brings public sector experience and private industry experience to the job of being state representative. The former executive of Provena United Samaritans Medical Center in Danville also was mayor of Catlin.
Langendorf said he decided to challenge Hays after the district was reworked and he found himself living in Hays' district.
"I wasn't happy he was running unopposed ... and I don't really think he can represent me really well. He has a different perspective on what's best for Vermilion County and what's best for the district," said Langendorf, who has run unsuccessfully for Urbana mayor and a city council seat there.
"For over 20 years, Vermilion County has been stagnant and we need to start going forward and be proactive," Langendorf said. The county has potential to be a center for manufacturing, he said. He said he supported the state income tax increase in 2011 and he supports changing the state's income tax structure from a flat tax rate to one that is graduated. The money should then be directed to paying off bills and pension payments.
Hays said a "tier one" issue for the state is its business climate. He supports changes to workers' compensation premiums and tort reform. As for the issue of income taxes, Hays said, one of his concerns when the tax passed was the lack of plan on how the state can "re-engineer" how services are delivered. He favors a long-range plan that outlines how the state can live within its means.
On the issue of pensions, both Langendorf and Hays oppose reducing pension benefits for state employees and retirees. They also do not support shifting pension costs to local governments and school districts.
"Everyone talks about doing something, but we don't do anything. We have a lot of work to do," Langendorf said. "We need to sit down with stakeholders at the table," he said.
It also wouldn't hurt to look to other states to see how they are tackling pension challenges, he said.
"There is common ground," Hays said. At a table where all stakeholders are present, "we can agree on what's negotiable, what's not negotiable. People understand there will have to be some changes going forward so we don't have a situation where people who've worked hard and planned for their financial futures aren't just thrown under bus," Hays said.
Langendorf also supports limiting the amount pensioners receive.
"$110,000 is more than enough to live on," he said.