PRIMARY 2018 QUESTIONNAIRES: 101st Illinois House District Republicans

PRIMARY 2018 QUESTIONNAIRES: 101st Illinois House District Republicans

The 101st Illinois House District includes all of DeWitt and Piatt counties and parts of Champaign, McLean and Macon counties, stretching from Arrowsmith and Ellsworth on the north to Mount Zion on the south and from Niantic on the west to Ludlow on the east. Included within its borders are the outlying areas of Decatur and all of Argenta, Atwood, Bellflower, Bement, Blue Ridge, Clinton, Cerro Gordo, DeLand, Dewey, DeWitt, Downs, Farmer City, Fisher, Foosland, Forsyth, Hammond, Heyworth, LeRoy, Mahomet, Mansfield, Maroa, Monticello, Oreana, Saybrook, Warrensburg, Weldon and White Heath, among others. A map from the Illinois State Board of Elections is below:

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Dan Caulkins, Decatur

No answers received.

 

 

 

 

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Todd C. Henricks, Cerro Gordo

1. What in your opinion is the primary problem with Illinois state government at this time, and as one legislator out of 177, what do you think you can do to help solve it?

As one out of 177, you have to be a vocal voice of the people of the 101st District to communicate the concerns and desires of the people.

2. Do you support term limits on all elected officials in Illinois, including legislators? If so, what would you consider a reasonable limit?

Yes, I am a staunch supporter of term limits. I would believe that a reasonable term would be a total of 12 years in any combination of the House and/or Senate in the Legislature.

3. Do you favor a change in the way that legislative boundaries are determined? If so, what do you think is a fair way to draw maps?

I am not only in favor of a change in the way that legislative boundaries are determined, but I would be a sponsor of bringing back the Fair Map Amendment. I believe in having the boundaries drawn by an impartial committee using all of the computer data available and keeping as many natural municipal, township and county boundaries intact as possible.

4. Do you have an idea how the state's unfunded-pension-liability problem can be eased, or should the state merely continue to cover pension costs as it has in recent years?

With the Illinois Constitution having the "shall not be diminished or impaired" clause on pensions, there is not a simple solution. One possible solution would be to allow state pensioners access to all of the federal Social Security benefits and offering a defined benefit plan, such as a 401(k) program.

5. Do you favor continuing Illinois' flat income tax, or would you favor a progressive tax?

I support retaining the flat income tax.

6. Would you support the legalization of marijuana in Illinois?

I could support decriminalization. Before I could support legalization, I would need to see a proven way to determine impairment. With alcohol, police departments have access to ways to determine blood alcohol levels at the scene of a traffic stop or accident. There is no known proven way to determine impairment from THC levels available for police departments at this time.

7. Are there state programs, departments or institutions that you would like to eliminate or seriously downsize in order to save money?

Before I would eliminate or seriously downsize, I would require all to eliminate any and all fraud, waste and abuse. If these programs, departments or institutions could or would not learn to survive on lesser means, then I would consider taking action to eliminate or seriously downsize.

8. What kind of criminal-justice reforms do you think the state needs to make to save money and reduce corrections costs?

We need to reduce the number and length of detention for non-violent crimes. We can increase the fines and lengthen probation without incarceration.

9. Now that the state's school-funding formula has been rewritten, what other changes are needed in Illinois education, including higher education?

We need to find a way to recruit more young people into the education field. I would also like to see more consolidation of dual elementary and secondary school districts into pre-K-12 community unit school districts. This would eliminate administrative duplication costs.

10. Would you support an increase in Illinois' minimum wage?

No, not at this time.

11. What makes you a better candidate than your primary opponents?

I am a proven leader in each position I have held as a public servant. I have been a small-business owner since 1993. Since 1997, I have been a school board member, currently board president. I have volunteered as a varsity assistant football coach at our high school since 1987. I am a retired assistant fire chief of the Cerro Gordo Volunteer Fire Department. I am a member of the Piatt County Museum board, previously serving as president. I am also a past president of both the Independent Farm Insurance Agents of Illinois and the Big "I" Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois.

12. Would you be willing to buck your party's leadership to vote for issues that you believe would benefit your district?

I certainly would, if I definitely thought that by doing so I would be benefiting the people of the 101st District. Serving the people of the 101st District would be my first priority while serving in the Legislature.

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Randy Keith, Monticello

1. What in your opinion is the primary problem with Illinois state government at this time, and as one legislator out of 177, what do you think you can do to help solve it?

Quite simply, both sides in Springfield have dug their heels in and refused to act like grown-ups. It's one of the reasons so many people in Illinois are angry about government, and it's one of the reasons that led me to run for this seat. It's a shared problem, Democrats and Republicans, Mike Madigan and Bruce Rauner. It's time for leadership. We need more people in Springfield who aren't going to say "no" any time someone on the other side opens their mouth. That's why I'm running. I don't think both sides are actually that far apart from finding some agreement, but we need people who are actually willing to bridge the divide and get things done.

2. Do you support term limits on all elected officials in Illinois, including legislators? If so, what would you consider a reasonable limit?

Absolutely. The people of Illinois are not served by career politicians who consolidate power over decades. I won't lock myself in to a certain number because I would support a wide variety of reforms. Voters, at minimum, deserve the opportunity to tell state government if they want to change the Illinois Constitution. I believe they would approve it overwhelmingly. I'm also willing to put my money where my mouth is. I have pledged to serve two terms in Springfield, make as much change as possible, not worry about the next election, fight for what's right and move on. I think that's what the people want.

3. Do you favor a change in the way that legislative boundaries are determined? If so, what do you think is a fair way to draw maps?

Yes. Republicans and Democrats are guilty of using their positions of power to gerrymander legislative districts and to be allowed to choose their voters instead of the other way around. I fully support an independent commission that would set the boundaries for each 10-year period without regard for who is serving in what seat and where. Fair maps mean fair elections. Fair elections mean better representation for the people of Illinois.

4. Do you have an idea how the state's unfunded-pension-liability problem can be eased, or should the state merely continue to cover pension costs as it has in recent years?

The Illinois Supreme Court has made it clear that the General Assembly cannot take away something that is promised in the state Constitution. Instead of forcibly trying to remove guarantees made to those in or near retirement, all parties can get into a room and find common ground. It could be higher pension contributions by employees or concessions in other areas from both the state and the unions that could help work toward a solution. While the unions have no incentive to give up language in the current Constitution, they do have incentive to see state government solvent, efficient, successful and employing their members. I truly believe they'll be willing to make contract concessions like increased pension contributions and the state can give low cost concessions as well (more vacation days, telecommuting, more maternity and paternity leave, etc.), that can help close the gap, even though it likely won't solve the whole problem. At least it's a step in the right direction.

5. Do you favor continuing Illinois' flat income tax, or would you favor a progressive tax?

I do not support a graduated income tax. We should not penalize people for success, and we should encourage them to stay in Illinois and keep and build businesses here.

6. Would you support the legalization of marijuana in Illinois?

I'm willing to listen to every side about every idea. And at minimum, I believe conservative Republicans like me should be willing to come to the table to negotiate instead of getting a Democrat-only bill forced through the Legislature. It is also a fact, though, that marijuana is a drug. It may not have similar toxic effects as heroin or other "hard" drugs, but its long-term use has been associated with undesirable effects in some people. Studies show half of Americans have smoked marijuana, and quite few have chronic addiction issues. Few develop habits, much less habits that are life-long (in another context, we might write "chronic"). There are also arguments to be made that legalization and heavy regulation could provide much needed revenue to help combat opioid addiction and fund programs that help those who are addicted, or children who are impacted by that addiction. I'm eager to take part in the discussion.

7. Are there state programs, departments or institutions that you would like to eliminate or seriously downsize in order to save money?

Some "low hanging fruit" for cuts and savings would include:— Elimination of the lieutenant governor's office.

— Merge the state treasurer and comptroller into one office.

— Merge the Illinois Community College Board, State Board of Higher Education and Illinois State Board of Education in a way most states already do.

— Eliminate the Legislative Printing Unit, which prints legislative promotional materials at taxpayer expense.

— The State Employee Health Insurance Group plan costs grew by 25 percent in 2017 and another 5 percent in 2018, and now costs taxpayers over $3.4 billion per year. The state has a large enough insurance pool (with over 50,000 state employees) that we can negotiate much lower rates from insurance providers.

8. What kind of criminal-justice reforms do you think the state needs to make to save money and reduce corrections costs?

I support reforming bond court, which often leads to people spending weeks or months in county jail leading up to trial, not based on the crime they're alleged to have committed but on their ability to pay. Money should not be a factor in determining whether a person stays in county jail while awaiting trial. The Illinois Supreme Court has recommended a system requiring a hearing of evidence that would allow a judge to decide if an accused person in any criminal case is able to afford the amount of monetary bail levied. Currently, courts often set arbitrary bail at amounts higher than defendants can afford.

The issue of recidivism must also be addressed. Statistics show 97 percent of people sent to state prison return to their home community at some point. I believe rehabilitation should be a core priority of our state prison system. I also believe parolees should have access to affordable housing and be put in a position in which they can find a job. The lack of access to affordable housing and a job just invites recidivism. Expunging records is also a key piece to successful re-entry. I applaud the work of Champaign County Circuit Clerk Katie Blakeman, who has undertaken successful events to help people expunge or seal the records of criminal history. We should promote similar events statewide.

9. Now that the state's school-funding formula has been rewritten, what other changes are needed in Illinois education, including higher education?

While there were some positive parts of the funding legislation, it's my belief that the bill will hurt downstate schools in the long run. A child shouldn't be funded at a different level because of ZIP code, and we should be leveling the playing field for all students — Chicago, Mahomet or Cairo. I fully support opportunity scholarships and charter schools. I believe not every child learns the same way and we need to give every child the best opportunity to succeed. That may be at a public school, private school, magnet or charter school.

10. Would you support an increase in Illinois' minimum wage?

Not at this time. We need more incentive to hire, expand, succeed and stay in Illinois, and arbitrary minimum-wage levels for jobs that are not considered full-time adult employment isn't the right direction. Instead, we should be working on more funding and programs for job training and workforce development. I would rather help people in their 50s retrain for a new career instead of asking them to work fast food for minimum wage.

11. What makes you a better candidate than your primary opponents?

I have nothing negative to say about anyone else in the race, but I'm proud to say I have experience getting things done in Piatt County. We've balanced the budget every year while protecting services and taxpayer dollars. Our county nursing home is solvent, unlike others in the area. I've shown that I won't just draw a line in the sand and vote a certain way because a donor told me to or an organization that endorses me wants me to. Everybody gets a fair shake with me. I'll consider every opinion and make the best decision I can for the people of this district. We need fewer people on the extremes and more people willing to get to work.

12. Would you be willing to buck your party's leadership to vote for issues that you believe would benefit your district?

Absolutely. I'm a Republican, but nobody owns me. I don't owe anything to the party, millionaire contributors from Chicago, or any other group who supports me. I'm going to Springfield to try to help solve problems. If that upsets anyone in leadership, that's just too bad.