Rauner a topic at 102nd District GOP forum

Rauner a topic at 102nd District GOP forum

CHAMPAIGN — Gov. Bruce Rauner and his financial support emerged Wednesday night as one of the few differences among the three Republican candidates for state representative in the 102nd House District.

Jim Acklin of Ogden, Brad Halbrook of Shelbyville and Randy Peterson of Paris met at the Champaign City Building in a candidate's forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Champaign County, the Champaign County NAACP and The News-Gazette.

On three separate occasions in the forum, Acklin, a former school administrator running for political office for the first time, said he "won't be beholden to any special interest group or to any political benefactor. I'll be an independent voice for people in this district."

Asked after the forum to whom he was referring, Acklin admitted he was talking about Halbrook, who has been endorsed by Rauner and received two separate campaign contributions of $5,400 from the governor and his wife.

"That goes back to where our money is coming from. Our money is coming from District 102," Acklin said. "That's not necessarily the case with my opponents. I'm just saying follow the money."

Halbrook's television advertising was paid for by the Liberty Principles PAC, which is headed by Rauner ally Dan Proft.

Halbrook, meanwhile, didn't shirk from Rauner's backing, and he noted that he supported the governor's Turnaround Agenda.

"As we move forward in the state of Illinois, the governor has a plan to turn things around," he said. "The governor, I am blessed and honored to have his endorsement, along with Family PAC and other right-to-life groups, along with the charter schools."

Earlier when they were asked whether they supported Rauner's multi-pronged agenda, Peterson said he did not back Rauner's move toward consolidating local governments.

"I'm very guarded when he talks about merging these organizations. You've got to have a small town. All government starts at the township," Peterson said.

Acklin said, "I'm aligned with the current governor on most issues," but said he did not support schools of choice or support for vouchers.

"Although I think that has a place upstate where you've got some failing schools in the Chicago area," Acklin said, "that doesn't play well downstate. Folks down here want to see their local schools remain strong."

Halbrook, meanwhile, said he favored the entire Rauner plan, including term limits, independent redistricting, worker's-compensation and legal reforms and property tax limitations.

All three said they were opposed to extending the state sales tax to include services.

"We're driving businesses out of the state already," Peterson said. "Sooner or later all these little towns are going to dry up and blow away. I'm totally against it."

Halbrook said, "I don't support any kind of a tax increase. The governor is asking for real reforms and you have to have these real reforms in place."

Acklin was less emphatic, saying "the only way that I could get behind an additional revenue stream ... is if I could be convinced that that revenue is going to plug a specific hole, if it's going to pay down bonded indebtedness for our pensions, for example. If we could couple that with some property tax relief, then there's more of a chance that I'd get behind something like that."

All three expressed enthusiastic support for the proposed independent map amendment, which would take legislative map-making out of the hands of the General Assembly, giving it to an independent citizens committee.

Sections (2):News, Local
Tags (1):2016 election

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