In a legislative district that has voted red for years, Democratic or third-party candidates face longer odds in running for public office.
Although Republican candidate Tom Weber already has gained the support of politicians such as U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Plano, Democratic candidate Trisha Zubert and Green Party candidate Aaron Goldberg are hoping to replace Rep. Barbara Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake, in the 64th Illinois House District, which consists of parts of Lake and McHenry counties.
Although Illinois has experienced a mass exodus of lawmakers announcing they will not be running for re-election – such as Wheeler – Weber, a Lake County Board member who ran unopposed in the primary, said he thinks his leadership experience in different governing bodies can make a difference.
In conferences or town hall-style events during his campaign, the Republican said the three things constituents bring up the most are government overspending, property tax burdens and infrastructure.
“I get a lot of calls about people sitting in traffic, and a lot of communities are without the funding to fix all the roads that need to be done,” Weber said. “People are happy if they can get to work in a timely manner and aren’t taxed out of their homes.”
Two staples in Gov. Bruce Rauner’s agenda since he first took office have been term limits and redistricting reform.
Weber said he is in favor of setting term limits for leadership roles, such as speaker of the House and Senate president, but would support term limits on elected officials depending on the length of the term.
As a member of a government reform and implementation ad hoc committee in Lake County, Weber said he is working to take the initiative of having a fair map agenda.
“Statewide, it’s absolutely something we need,” Weber said. “The shape of my district is a perfect example [of why].”
However, Weber disagreed with a proposal Rauner had earlier in the year to localize state obligations toward school district and local government pensions.
“I don’t think that’s a viable option,” Weber said.
One fieldWeber said he feels Lake County has been a great leader in is combating the opioid crisis. Weber said initiatives have been put in place to help residents better detect the signs of abuse and get addicts into treatment if they report to certain police departments. He said he would like to see those efforts expand in McHenry County.
After looking into Wheeler’s voting record, Zubert, a Volo resident and former Frassati Catholic Academy board president, said she realized her beliefs have not aligned historically with Wheeler’s, and it might be good to try and change some things.
Zubert did not run in the primary, but managed to collect 1,000 signatures to get onto the ballot.
She said she only has had one fundraiser during her campaign, and the only people who showed up already were going to vote for her. Therefore, she said, she feels knocking on doors is the way to help spread the word in McHenry County.
“I really think going door to door is what works,” Zubert said. “You can interact with people, and they can realize I’m not on a self-serving mission and that I do have the state [of Illinois] in mind.”
One area Zubert said she is passionate about is renewable energy efforts. She said the use of solar farms should not be an afterthought, as they are potential job creators and more aesthetically pleasing over self-storage facilities, which have been on the rise in the area.
“To me, solar power is a much more reasonable year-round solution,” Zubert said.
Zubert also is in favor of term limits on leadership positions and reforming gerrymandered districts. However, she would like to see redistricting mandated at the national level and would be in support of adding a term-limit referendum on a ballot.
In light of the recent harassment scandals that cost Rep. Nick Sauer, R-Lake Barrington, his House seat and Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, his position as deputy majority leader, Zubert said, having more women holding office would add the confidence to stop such behavior.
According to the 24-year-old’s campaign website, some of the things the state needs include a graduated income tax, community solar projects, school district consolidation and government salary and pension caps.
However, an objection to his candidacy is pending, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections website. Goldberg could not be reached for comment.