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Education, taxes at forefront for candidates vying for Illinois state representative seat

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 Education, taxes at forefront for candidates vying for Illinois state representative seat

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Republican Joe Sosnowski faces a challenge from Democrat Peter Janko for State Representative from Illinois’ 69th legislative district, which encompasses much of Boone County and sections of Rockford, Cherry Valley and McHenry County. State representatives in Illinois serve two-year terms and are paid a salary of $70,645 a year. Sosnowski was born in Hanover Park, Illinois, and now resides in Rockford.

He is running for his seventh two-year term in the Illinois House of Representatives. Janko is from Marengo and is a Democrat State Central Committeeperson in Illinois’ 11th Congressional District. Ahead of the Nov. 8 election, we asked the candidates what the most pressing issues they’ll face if elected and what they would do about them.

Here is a closer look at the candidates. Joe Sosnowski Age: 45 Family: Wife; Roxanne, three children; Aidan, 17, Roman, 14, Ellie, 12 Hometown: Born in Hanover Park, lived in Carol Stream most of childhood Education: Bachelor of Arts from Northern Illinois University, master's in public administration from Northern Illinois University Profession: Fundraising professional Memberships and associations: Co-chair Northern Illinois University Caucus, Illinois Licensed Real Estate Broker Political experience: Alderman for City of DeKalb, alderman City of Rockford, Illinois state representative since 2011 Endorsements: Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, National Federation of Independent Businesses, Illinois Sheriff's Association, Farm Bureau PAC, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Realtors, ABATE, Associated Builders and Contractors, NRA What are the top three issues in your race and how do you plan to address them if elected? Cost of living.

As a state with one of the highest property taxes and overall tax burden in the country, we need legislators who are willing to address the difficult decisions that need to be made. The current majority believes Illinois needs an income tax increase. Illinois residents are saying “no more,” and unfortunately, we see that as residents move to other states.

We need parents fully involved in their children’s education and their lives. We want government at all levels to focus on the basics and in schools that should be reading, writing, math, and science and leave social agendas out of the classroom. Too often we see federal and state legislators creating mandates on schools when instead parents in local districts should be partners in their children’s education.

We need to move decision making to the local districts and out of Springfield. We need balance in the state government. We have seen what happens when there is no balance and one-party rules in Springfield. From poor fiscal management to bad policies, the Springfield majority has continued to make other states more attractive for both residents and job creators.

Reforms like fair maps, term limits, open and transparent governance are essential to fix problems in Illinois, but the current leadership is unwilling to promote these popular approaches to governance. Peter Janko Age: 70 Family: Married with two adult children Hometown: Marengo Education: Association of applied sciences honors in electronics technology Profession(s): Marketing research analyst for EY; telecommunications products designer at Motorola; president of historic lighting restoration & design for Lumenelle, Inc. Memberships and associations: Democrat State Central Committeeperson in Illinois’ 11th Congressional District.

Former board of directors for Preservation Trades Network ( Political experience: Two-time winner in contested race for state central committeeman, 11th Congressional District. This is the equivalent of running and winning a contested Congressional primary race. Endorsements: Independent Voters of Illinois, AFSME Council 31, United Auto Workers, Illinois NOW (National Order of Women), Equality Illinois, SMART 265. What are the top three issues in your race and how do you plan to address them if elected? School funding reform: Illinois taxpayers pay the second highest property taxes in the country, nearly two-thirds of which goes to education.

We can reduce local property taxes by the state of Illinois increasing its share of school funding. It is fairer to taxpayers because collection of state revenue, at least, is based on the ability to pay whereas property taxes have nothing to do with a person’s ability to pay. As people age and find themselves living on a fixed incomes or become unemployed or underemployed, property tax bills stay the same or keep rising, often forcing people to sell their homes.

High property taxes can also keep young families from buying their first home. We can eliminate, through consolidation, hundreds of overlapping and duplicative districts with thousands of redundant administrators across Illinois. Low-cost, high-speed cable: I believe that we can get to a system that can do both provide an alternative to the costly cable companies for residents with cable access as well as providing broadband to the “last house” in the rural parts of the 69th.

There are provisions in the infrastructure budget for expansion of broadband access in underserved areas of Illinois. The 69th district would be a good place to start. Inflation: There is not much that can be done about inflation at the state level. Inflation is cyclical, However, there are some things we can do that have a lasting effect.

That is to permanently eliminate all sales taxes on food and medicine. The recent budget calls for a temporary, one year, suspension of the state sales tax on groceries. I don’t think that is good enough. Illinois is one of only 13 states that impose sales tax on groceries. Illinois is also the one and only state that taxes prescription drugs at the state level.

I will fight for the permanent elimination of state and all local sales taxes on basic foods such as bread, milk, cheese, baby food and formula, fresh meats, poultry, common seafood, fruits, nuts, vegetables and similar food. I'd also work to end taxes on all prescription drugs and non-prescription pain relievers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen, cough suppressants, antihistamines, antacids, laxatives, and diarrhea remedies. Ken DeCoster covers business news and features.

Contact him at 815-987-1391, or @DeCosterKen.

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