Forum features 15th challengers
by CYRYL JAKUBOWSKI
Democrat Jac Charlier and Republican Jonathan Edelman answered questions and discussed their campaigns hoping to unseat incumbent state Representative John D’Amico in the 15th Illinois House District at a public forum held Jan. 27 at the Edgebrook Library.
The forum, which was sponsored by the Edgebrook Community Association, featured opening statements and submitted questions. D’Amico did not attend the forum because he was in Springfield for Governor Bruce Rauner’s "State of the State" address, but he sent a representative from his district office to read a prepared statement.
"The state is facing unprecedented challenges, and I am committed to working with both sides of the aisle to find reasonable and common sense solutions that protect vital services to Illinois residents like education, public safety and services for homebound seniors while holding the line on taxes on middle class families," D’Amico said in the statement.
D’Amico said that he is refusing to accept his pay as a state representative until the budget is passed and that improving education and the quality of local schools is the best way to strengthen communities, strengthen the economy and prepare children for a competitive work force.
D’Amico said that he worked to secure funding for additions at Wildwood School and Edgebrook School and that he was one of the only Democrats to vote against the income tax increase in 2011. He also said that he worked on banning texting while driving and having a graduated driver’s license program for teenagers.
During the question portion of the forum, D’Amico’s representative did not answer questions on his behalf and urged people to call the district office to get his position on the issues.
Charlier, who is the co-founder of the Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition, which is working to reduce jet noise from O’Hare Airport, is running against D’Amico in the March 15 primary election.
"What’s the main question for election 2016?" Charlier said. "It’s a massive election for us and the question is this, have you had enough. Have you had enough of living in a state that is bankrupt all the time? Have you had enough of living in a state that is broke no matter how much revenue we bring in? Have you had enough of feeling like you are being gamed by parties, Democrats and Republicans, as they are getting theirs and we are not getting ours?"
Charlier said that D’Amico has been in office for 12 years and that he is a multiple-job holder who collects multiple pensions. "Have you had enough of corruption and single-family rule for 52 years?" he said in a reference to the Laurino family, which has dominated politics in the 39th Ward.
D’Amico is Alderman Margaret Laurino’s (39th) nephew. He also is the assistant district superintendent in the city Department of Water Management, a $103,272-a-year job. He does not collect his city salary when he is in Springfield.
"The D’Amico and the Laurino family has been in power for 52 years," Charlier said. "Aldermen, committeemen, state reps and state senators. That makes some of you uncomfortable, but that’s the truth. Government job after government job, government pension after government pension.
"It’s called the Chicago machine. Multi-generational, public payroll-packed families that load themselves up with jobs and pensions while we are being deceived. Illinois is broken because we are corrupt."
Edelman, who is a lawyer, is running in the Nov. 8 general election.
Edelman said that the state of the State of Illinois reminds him of the new film "The Big Short."
"For those who haven’t seen the movie, it’s about people from every walk of life so eager to be bribed with unrealistic increases in the value of their real estate that they were also eager to ignore all the warning signs and ask the tough questions to learn whether their new-found wealth was grounded on a solid foundation or whether it was illusory. We know the answer now," Edelman said.
"Speaker (Michael) Madigan has been in the Illinois House of Representative since I was 6 years old," Edelman said. "Two weeks ago he celebrated his 45th year in office, which is twice as long as most totalitarian dictators have been in office before they are run out of town."
Edelman said that he would work to end "budgetary trickery" that includes using borrowed money to pay expenses and end pensions for politicians.
"It is not enough to merely replace the incumbent with somebody else," Edelman said. "You have to replace him with someone who has ideas, the communication skills and the ability to make friends on both sides of the aisle.
"If we don’t make this change, Illinois will continue to be in the state of Enron. We will lose people, our infrastructure will crumble, and our taxes will rise and our real estate will fall.
Both candidates said that they would work to secure funding to finish construction of the veterans home on Oak Park Avenue. Charlier criticized D’Amico for not voicing his opinion on the matter and not working to get the project finished.
"Our incumbent is taking no leadership on resolving the issue," Charlier said. He stands in line and waits for his orders to come and does nothing until that time comes."
"Where is our elected official when he is not even here tonight?" Charlier said, adding that D’Amico has time to drive to the forum from Springfield. "Our elected official does not represent our issues and us, he will fall in line with the leadership lock, stock and barrel."
Charlier said that he would work to stabilize debt, reduce expenditures and modernize revenues.
"We don’t have a budget, folks," Edelman said. "People are not talking to each other. Do you understand the idiocy of that statement?" Edelman said that the state is poorly managed and that he would propose a flat tax for all tax-paying entities and zero-based budgeting.
"Every department should justify its budget," Edelman said "You don’t take last year’s budget and add 3 percent."
Charlier said that he supports term limits and that if he were elected he would limit himself to five terms. Edelman said that he does not support term limits. They both said that oppose allowing politicians to work more than one public job and to collect multiple pensions.
The candidates also discussed why proceeds from the state lottery are not going into the education fund but rather into the general fund.
"They did a bait and switch," Charlier said. "Those funds should go to education.
"I’m not a big fan of the lottery funding the government. The lottery is built on the backs of compulsive gamblers and poor people. It’s a poor way to fund the critical issue."
Charlier said that he is a former union steward and that he disagrees with Rauner’s anti-union agenda that is being used to "hijack the budget process."
"I’m not a union buster and I’m not a Rauner cheerleader, but I do support the governor for taking it to the streets," Edelman said.