Mike Smiddy and James "Jim" Arduini face off in the Democratic primary election on March 20 for the chance to oppose District 71 state Rep. Rich Morthland, R-Cordova, in the fall election.|
Mr. Smiddy, of Hillsdale, an employee of the Illinois Department of Corrections, said he is motivated by a strong desire to apply "common sense" solutions to state issues.
"Being a public employee and my wife being a teacher, as well, we're kind of coming under attack," he said. "I felt, instead of the bureaucrats in Springfield making the laws and passing judgment on us, maybe sending someone down there who has been on the front lines of corrections and can tell them what's going on in the schools, someone with a common sense approach to the issues, would be a good thing."
Mr. Arduini, of Sterling, who has served as an alderman and Whiteside County Board member, said his life has led him to this election.
"It has just been a gradual progression," he said. "Growing up in the family I grew up in, community service was a given. My father was the mayor of Rock Falls. My uncle Tony (Arduini) is (Whiteside County Board) chairman. I would like to take my experience to the next level.
"I have worked with a lot of great community leaders. I feel I am a collection plate of experience. I'd like to take that community involvement and see if we can apply it to state policy."
Job creation and economic growth are Mr. Arduini's top priorities, he said.
"Also, education is a big part of it," he said. "Spending wisely in the education area will cut down on the need to spend in the welfare and crime areas. We have to be more prudent in the way we spend our money in education and make sure all spending actually provides benefit to the students."
The candidates agreed the state's budget crisis must be a central priority.
"I have gone through city budgets, hospital budgets, county budgets, and the key thing is that people work together and listen," Mr. Arduini said. "They may have different views or be from different political factions, but there has to be give and take. Compromise, common sense and simple math basically are factors that need to be part of the process."
The state's budget woes have been allowed to grow for "far too long," Mr. Smiddy said. He suggested drawing back corporate tax breaks as one way to increase revenue.
"We have $600 million in tax cuts we were not able to pay out to businesses because the state does not have it," he explained. "We have over $1 billion in tax cuts we have committed to businesses that maybe we shouldn't have.
"We all need to tighten our belts. Our deficit right now is $8.5 billion. We need a fiscal plan that makes sense. We can't balance this budget on the backs of the middle class and the poor. Lets make sure everybody pays their fair share."
The 67 percent income tax increase pushed by Gov. Pat Quinn and passed by the Illinois General Assembly early last year, was necessary, the candidates agreed.
"The legislature had little else they could do in light of the circumstances," he said. "Poor decisions by past administrations made it an unfortunate necessity. ... I would work to have (the income tax increase scaled) back later when more positive results are realized.
"Furthermore, if as a result of this increase, the administration finds it an excuse to increase spending in the future, because it is available, I will definitely do everything in my power to repeal it and not support any other increases of any kind."
Mr. Smiddy said he supported the tax increase.
"It's not a popular thought, but we needed to do something at that time. We were $15 billion in debt and now we're right around $8.5 billion," he said. "It is working. We need to keep looking at ways to create funding in our state. And maybe looking at a graduated tax plan instead of a flat tax is a better idea."
Both candidates also agreed there needs to be state pension reform.
"Get it set up and properly funded," Mr. Arduini said. "Then, we probably need to look at some phasing in and out of certain things, maybe a freeze on cost of living increases for a while. ... All things have to be looked at and reviewed. It has to be wise and intelligent spending."
Public employees are unfairly blamed in Illinois regarding pensions, Mr. Smiddy said.
"We (public employees) have been doing our part in making sure the pensions are funded," he said. "The state of Illinois has made one pension payment, that was this year. Before that, it had been four decades since they made a full pension payment. The public employees have not caused this problem.
"It is the legislators in Springfield that have continued to pass the buck along and created this problem. Public employees have been robbed."
Mr. Arduini said if he were elected, the first piece of legislation he would work on would be related to jobs and education.
Mr. Smiddy said if he were elected, he would immediately get to work on education issues, maintaining funding for the Western Illinois University riverfront campus in Moline and passenger rail service from the Quad-Cities to Chicago and encouraging more infrastructure investments.
Name: James "Jim" Arduini
Education: Newman High School, Northern Illinois University and Mount St. Clare College
Family: Married with two sons and two grandsons
Political Experience: precinct committeeman, Whiteside County Board member for two years, former Sterling alderman
Social Networking: N/A
Name: Mike Smiddy
Occupation: supply supervisor II at East Moline Correctional Center/Illinois Department of Corrections
Education: United Township High School, Western Illinois University
Family: Married with two sons
Political Experience: nine years as staff assistant for former U.S. Rep. Lane Evans
Social Networking: Facebook (Mike Smiddy for IL - 71)
Illinois House of Representatives
Duties: Enacts state laws, acts on federal constitutional amendments and proposes state constitutional amendments. It also can impeach executive and judicial officials. State representatives serve two-year terms.
2011 Salary: $67,836/year
The most recent finance reports on file with the Illinois State Board of Elections for the period of Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 showed the Mike Smiddy for State Representative campaign committee raised $9,705 during the fourth quarter and ended the year with $2,543.02 on hand.
Since Jan. 1, the committee has reported more than $58,000 in donations, primarily from the AFSCME Illinois Special PAC and other labor unions.
The Friends of James F Arduini campaign committee has not yet filed any financial reports.
Rock island, IL Details
|(More Print Ads)|