Disagreement, but no fireworks, in debate between 52nd Senate candidates

Disagreement, but no fireworks, in debate between 52nd Senate candidates

CHAMPAIGN — Anyone looking for a fireworks at the debate between incumbent state Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, and his Republican challenger, John Bambenek of Champaign, went home disappointed.

The debate between the two men vying to represent the 52nd Illinois Senate District began Friday when Bambenek confessed that "I kinda like my opponent. He's a nice guy."

Even though they disagree on some issues, Bambenek said, "I still like him."

Their biggest disagreement in a forum at the Champaign City Building was over the 67 percent income-tax increase that Frerichs voted for last year.

"We need to get our state budget under control and repeal the tax hike that I would argue didn't need to be passed in the first place," Bambenk said.

And although Bambenk said the state should go to a zero-based budget that would force a reallocation of all resources, Frerichs said, "if we were to cut further, you'd see some cuts in human services and the University of Illinois and public safety."

Bambenek said he would not vote for what he called "gay marriage" in Illinois. Frerichs evaded the question by recalling that he supported civil unions in Illinois two years ago.

Frerichs, who is seeking his third term, said he would not support what he called "mandatory term limits."

"I support term limits and I call them elections," he said. "Every two to four years, you have an opportunity to remove your elected officials from office."

He contended that if lawmakers were subject to term limits, only lobbyists and government bureaucrats would have power and institutional memory.

But Bambenek said he supports limits, although he did not suggest a figure.

"How many governors do we have to send to prison before we realize that power corrupts?" he said.

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