CRYSTAL LAKE – Stemming the exodus of taxpayers and jobs from Illinois and lightening the state’s heavy property tax burden is paramount to the three Republican candidates running for the 26th Senate District seat.
Dan McConchie, Casey Urlacher and Martin McLaughlin are running to succeed Republican Sen. Dan Duffy, who is limiting himself to two terms.
The 26th District covers southeastern McHenry and southwestern Lake counties and slivers of Kane and Cook counties.
The candidates said at their meeting with the Northwest Herald Editorial Board last week that fixing the public pension system, which has at least $111 billion in unfunded liabilities, is paramount to restoring the state’s fiscal health.
McLaughlin said his investment career gives him an edge when it comes to finding constitutionally acceptable solutions. Voters in 2013 elected him president of Barrington Hills.
“[The pension crisis] invades every single aspect of taxes in the state, and it has to be changed,” McLaughlin said.
McConchie said the state also needs to adopt Gov. Bruce Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda” of pro-business reforms to workers’ compensation, tort liability and prevailing wage laws.
“We aren’t suffering from a lack of ideas,” McConchie said. “What we’re suffering from is a lack of political will and strategy to fight for those things in Springfield.”
The Hawthorn Woods resident is vice president of government affairs for Americans United for Life – he served eight years in the Army National Guard as both an infantryman and a military policeman before a 2007 crash with a hit-and-run driver put him in a wheelchair.
Urlacher said that reforms at the state level will help lower taxes locally, because they will give people and jobs a reason to stay in Illinois.
Outmigration from Illinois last year hit six digits for the first time, and the state led the nation in population loss, according to U.S. Census estimates.
“They’re running out of this state, which is unfortunate. We need to keep them here,” Urlacher said.
Voters in the small town of Mettawa elected Urlacher mayor in 2013. A former football player and business development director for Englewood Construction Company, he is the younger brother of former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.
McLaughlin supports the controversial project to extend Route 53 north from Lake Cook Road to Route 120, but McConchie and Urlacher were more reserved. McConchie said planners have not demonstrated enough dedication to preserving the area’s unique wetland environment, and Urlacher added he also needs to see more talk about who is going to end up paying for it.
The winner of the primary will run unopposed in November unless the Democratic Party gathers the signatures needed to caucus in an opponent.