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Know before you vote: The candidates for state representative of the 110th district

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Know before you vote: The candidates for state representative of the 110th district

Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

Cassie Buchman, Editor-in-Chief

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Shirley Bell (D)

Shirley Bell is running unopposed to be the Democratic nominee for state representative of the 110th district.

Bell is a retired communication studies professor from Eastern.

“After retiring, two things were major motivators in my decision (to run),” Bell said. “One was the election of 2016. It was, for many people, first a kick in the stomach and then a kick in the butt.”

The second motivator for Bell was the two-year budget impasse.

“This state was starved, the school was starved of resources, and it was unconscionable to me,” Bell said. “This is ridiculous. Because of the budget impasse we lost jobs, we lost services, we lost people. The outmigration of Illinois is a huge problem for us.”

This led her to become more actively involved with the Coles County Democrats, serving as their legislative outreach chair, calling state representatives and researching issues.

As election season came up, she started talking to State sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) and State rep. Reggie Phillips (R-Charleston), as well Eastern President David Glassman and Jim Hull, vice president at Lake Land College and local mayors to find out what the area’s strengths and weaknesses are.

From talking to them, she believe the biggest challenge facing the 110th district is how it has to deal with the aftermath of the budget impasse.

“We’re paying enormous interest rates on the backlog of bills,” she said.

Part of what led to the budget impasse is that it has gotten so partisan in Springfield.

“You’re a Democrat, you’re a Republican, you’re a this or you’re a that, and they vote straight party line so we can’t get anything done,” Bell said. “And this I’m hearing from almost every person I’ve talked to. They are fed up with state government. We need state legislators willing to work across the aisle (and who will) negotiate and focus on problem solving, not partisan positioning. That’s what politics is supposed to be about.”

The 110th district has been stagnant since the impasse, or losing jobs, Bell said.

“The district, we really need to revitalize,” Bell said. “As I say, let’s start growing again. I believe we do that first of all through education, pre-K through higher education.”

Bell is a supporter of expanding notions of higher education, including apprenticeships and targeted training programs to create skilled workers.

“We need people to do those jobs. When you need a plumber, you need to be investing more in people getting the education they need so (the community gets the jobs they need),” Bell said.

Expanding these programs would also get people good jobs, which, according to Bell, means having a livable wage, benefits and a path for advancement.

“If we do that, people are making enough money so that they have enough and they can spend it in the community,” Bell said.

Another issue Bell wants to look at if elected representative is infrastructure, such as investing in roads, bridges and waterways impacting farmers.

Bell supports bills that are currently trying to get broadband to rural areas, especially as she sees they could benefit education.

“Without the Internet, (schools) can’t stream education videos, there’s a whole bunch they can’t do,” she said.

Bringing broadband to rural areas will also allow them to become more competitive in a business environment.

One thing Bell is tired of is going between the choices of cutting services or raising taxes, when in her opinion, people need to look at the budget as a whole.

“People will talk about cutting spending; what they really mean is cutting services,” Bell said.

Though Bell is running as a Democrat in a traditionally more Republican district, when she has been talking to people, she has heard them say they do not vote for the party, they vote for the candidate.

“I’m actually really hopeful and positive about working with the people of 110th in every county,” she said.

Terry Davis (R)

Terry Davis is running to be the Republican nominee for state representative of the 110th district and is the owner of Town Square Jewelers in Charleston.

One of the main factors that made Davis want to run is the two-year-long budget impasse.

“The years we have been in budget crisis had an effect on the entire community and businesses felt that (it had) just gotten to the point where they think somebody has to do something,” Davis said. “When someone asked me (to run) I couldn’t think of a good enough reason why not (to run) … we’re facing another budget impasse. The state as a whole has suffered tremendously.”

He said he has seen how businesses have suffered and seen students go elsewhere for education, because they do not believe Illinois has gotten its act together.

“Frankly, when students go somewhere else, they don’t come back,” Davis said. “Students feel the same way. Are there going to be grants? Is there going to be funding? I know a lot of programs at Eastern have suffered.”

Davis spoke with the presidents at Eastern, Lake Land College and Lincoln Trails about these funding issues.

“They all pretty much say the same thing; just give us a budget we can count on, we will adjust according to what we got,” Davis said. “We can’t operate without any information. It’s unfair to expect a business or university school system to operate without knowing.”

Because he thinks higher education is not getting properly represented, one of Davis’ ideas if elected is to create a caucus of all representatives with colleges and universities in their districts.

“By joining together … I think we can reach some kind of consensus or plan to move things forward, make sure higher education gets more noticed,” Davis said. “A group will always be able to come up with more ideas than one person can.”

It is destabilizing to hear that legislators are not able to solve budgetary problems together, he said.

“Businesses don’t know what to count on,” Davis said.“What we’ve seen at national level is by lowering tax rates, we’re able to stimulate business,.”

Part of what Davis wants to do is reform tax codes and workers’ compensations rates, according to Davis.

“All these things are small steps,” Davis said. “Making gigantic sweeping changes is real difficult, but these small changes we can make.”

Other issues Davis wants to concentrate on if elected as state representative include making sure farmers are under less government regulation.  “Agriculture is huge in this district,” he said. “If you take a drive outside Charleston area, you see huge fields everywhere. (Illinois) produces over 70 different crops, not just soybeans and corn. The state’s the fifth largest producer of cash crops.”

Another area that needs to be addressed is the pension issue, Davis said.

“Right now there are a lot of good legislators who are working very hard to come up with new ideas on how we can stabilize our current pension system,” he said. “(The system) has been underfunded. That needs to stop—we need to make sure that we fulfill our obligations to all of our retirees in the pension system and make sure that they get what they were promised.”

This will involve “a lot of hard choices,” because the state cannot afford to tax its way out of these problems, Davis said.

“We cannot add additional taxes,” he said. “There have to be new funding sources.”

Davis’ approach to Republicanism is that governments should work to provide more freedoms rather than less.

“The government’s obligation is to guarantee that those duties will be performed with the maximum amount of efficiency and transparency,” he said. “What we have had in the past, I believe, is behind-closed-doors deals and arrangements that had been made that have enriched some people and some groups at the expense of the citizens.”

Chris Miller (R)

Chris Miller could not be reached for an interview.

Chris Miller, of Oakland, is running for the Republican nomination for state representative of the 110th district.
“My message is simple,” Miller said in a press release first announcing his candidacy. “We need more jobs in the 110th district and we need to stop the outward migration of people and resources to other states.”

In the release, Miller said he would defend second amendment rights and speak up for “traditional family values.”

He graduated from Eureka College with a degree in education, later attending Lake Land College and receiving an associate’s degree in agriculture, according to his website.

In The Effingham Daily News, Miller said the most pressing problems Illinois needs to fix is the “exodus of Illinois’ citizens to other states.”

“Opportunities are missed because of the oppressive system we have in place that is extremely unfriendly to business,” said Miller to The Effingham Daily News. “People are leaving because of all the above, because of high real estate tax, high income tax, high corporate tax, high gas tax.”

According to The Effingham Daily News, the three most common issues Miller said are raised include ousting House Speaker Mike Madigan from his position, reforming workers’ compensation along with real estate and income tax relief.

On Millers’ website, it states that after 32 years of Madigan, “Illinois is bankrupt.”

“I will vote to impose term limits on politicians,” Miller said on the website.

When it comes to business, his website says he wants to develop natural resources, promote job creations, reduce regulations, have competitive workers’ compensation.

In a candidate survey from The Chicago Tribune, he said the state does not have a revenue problem; rather, career politicians have a spending problem.

“We need true business reforms that will benefit all Illinoisans and lead to job creation and more of a tax base,” Miller said. “Creating further sources of revenue in Illinois helps Madigan’s Government Insiders, but hurts the great citizens of this state. We need representatives that go to Springfield to stand up for all of Illinois, not just a few select individuals.”

When asked by The Tribune’s survey where five areas are that Miller would cut spending,he said “there are lot more than five areas where I would cut spending.”

“However, I would start by focusing on Illinois’ complex and redundant procurement processes and revitalize all agency’s means of doing business more efficiently and effectively for our hardworking taxpayers,” Miller said.

Miller supports both term limits and changes to the redistricting process.

He has never run for public office before, according to The News-Gazette.

“We need true business reforms that will benefit all Illinoisans and lead to job creation and more of a tax base,” Miller said. “Creating further sources of revenue in Illinois helps Madigan’s Government Insiders, but hurts the great citizens of this state. We need representatives that go to Springfield to stand up for all of Illinois, not just a few select individuals.”

When asked by The Tribune’s survey where five areas are that Miller would cut spending,he said “there are lot more than five areas where I would cut spending.”

“However, I would start by focusing on Illinois’ complex and redundant procurement processes and revitalize all agency’s means of doing business more efficiently and effectively for our hardworking taxpayers,” Miller said.

Miller supports both term limits and changes to the redistricting process.

He has never run for public office before, according to The News-Gazette.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]

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Cassie Buchman, Editor in Chief

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My name is Cassie and I'm a senior journalism major. I am the current Editor in Chief at the DEN. My former positions include administration editor,...

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Know before you vote: The candidates for state representative of the 110th district