Martwick vs. La Porte in 19th Illinois House District
by KEVIN GROSS
Incumbent Democrat Robert Martwick said that his opponent Jeffrey La Porte in the March 20 primary election for the 19th Illinois House District is a "stalking horse" candidate who is not running a serious campaign.
"You figure a district-wide mailing costs about $10,000 a week," Martwick said. "So without a ‘Friends of Jeff La Porte’ Web site you wonder, where are these funds coming from?" A "stalking horse" is defined by Webster’s dictionary as a candidate "whose candidacy is a mere maneuver to conceal that of someone more important or to divide and thus defeat the opposition."
La Porte has had several mailings that have been critical of Martwick. Martwick said that La Porte’s past voting record in state and national elections leaned Republican and that he is receiving funds from right-wing organizations.
Records show La Porte received a $11,000 donation from the Illinois Opportunity Project, a conservative advocacy group in Chicago that counts amongst its senior fellows Dan Proft, who chairs the Liberty Principles PAC, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.
"I not only have a unique perspective on law enforcement that I believe will be an asset when voting on laws that directly impact our safety and our first responders, but I also understand what it’s like to run a small business in probably one of the most anti small-business states in the country," La Porte, a 23-year police officer, owner of Diamond Home Inspections and 18-year Northwest side resident said in an e-mailed statement.
"I have been helping people for a living most of my adult life, that’s what I do. I believe I can help even more as state representative," he said.
"I have no problem with people running (as a Republican), some of my best colleagues and friends are Republicans. But if you’re really Republican be honest, don’t run as a Democrat," Martwick said. "If you’re looking for honesty from an elected official, these are not good signs."
La Porte said that he is more of an independent who does not necessarily adhere to a single political party.
"I have voted Republican in some primaries and Democratic in others. I always believe that our decisions on who we should vote for should be more about the candidates than about the parties. Unfortunately, for the most part we have ended up with a two-party system in this country," La Porte said. "That said I am running in the Democratic primary because I think if I have to choose one or the other, I tend to identify a little more with the Democratic Party. At the end of the day, I support ideas and issues on both sides of the aisle. I am running as Jeffrey La Porte the candidate, and I hope people vote for me based on that and not specific to party affiliation."
La Porte has criticized Martwick as a party insider who unfairly benefits from political connections, which may be a conflict of interest.
"(Legislators) come from all walks of life, and everyone has what could potentially be seen as a conflict of interest. Teachers would vote on mandates and school funding that affects what they teach or the resources they have. As a police officer, (La Porte) would vote on gun laws and pension issues that affect him," Martwick said. "The only thing that amounts to a conflict of interest is if what you’ve done has a direct benefit to your wallet. I’ve never done that. As a lawyer my job is to represent people within the bounds of law."
Martwick highlighted his history as chair of the House Personnel and Pensions Committee to look for solutions to unfunded pension and debt obligations, as well as his past work on creating automatic objections to conceal-carry applications by repeat offenders, which became part of Illinois’ concealed-carry legislation.
"We did the work and eventually passed the law. But as part of a brand new legislature I met with police officers from the 16th (Jefferson Park) District, to make common sense law helped by the experts in that field," Martwick said. "The provision helped deny a known leader of the Latin Kings from getting a concealed-carry weapon."
Martwick additionally discussed the pursuit of a progressive graduated income tax and last year filed House Bill 3522, which proposes tax brackets ranging from 4 percent for incomes below $7,500 to 7.65 percent for incomes over $225,000.
"If we do progressive revenue and spend it wisely, we can really address a lot of problems. We can equitably improve education, pay our pensions, make the state more business friendly," Martwick said. "And in time, once we pay off that (pension) debt we can be a low tax state again."
Martwick also said that he would continue to push for an elected school board.
La Porte said that he would take a different approach to taxation, citing it as the main reason for for people leaving the state.
"The state of Illinois does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. Illinois is the fifth wealthiest state in total income, yet we are on the verge of bankruptcy. That doesn’t make sense to me," he said. "We have higher state and local taxes than any of our border states. Federal data shows we have lost an estimated 228,000 people and $26.9 billion in cumulative gross income to our neighbors in Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Kentucky. We need to stop the heavy taxation and control our spending."
La Porte additionally said that he would not collect a pension if elected, as he sees it as a conflict of interest to reforming the pension problem. He said that elimination of pensions for elected officials should be the first step toward "a good faith negotiation to reform the system. Elected officials should not be retiring on the backs of taxpayers and should not collect a pension at all."
La Porte said said that Martwick did not represent the interests of residents in his Northwest Side district.
"Recently almost 6,000 residents signed petitions asking their elected officials, including Martwick, to be their voice and publicly oppose the high density project proposed for 5150 N. Northwest Hwy.," La Porte said. "Martwick chose politics over the people and refused to do that."
Martwick said that he prefers not to take public stances on local development issues, as aldermen rather than Illinois General Assembly members manage such projects.
"The people (against) 5150 said they have 6,000 signatures. But I ask ‘what makes you think I can weigh in on this?’ I have no vote," Martwick said. "I will always convey input to the alderman. But I’ve always said it’s a matter of principle I would not make a public statement, and I assure you both sides would like me to weigh in."