Voters in the race for 72nd District state representative will find two very different choices on their Nov. 6 ballot.
Republican Neil Anderson, a Moline firefighter and political newcomer, faces incumbent state Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, who has served since 2003 and has been easily re-elected three times. Mr. Verschoore also told us that, contrary to rumors, he intends to serve out the full term. Mr. nderson said he will limit himself to eight years or four terms. Both have run well-organized, clean campaigns though they differ significantly on many issues, particularly money matters.
Mr. Verschoore points to a number of votes he has made to ease pressure on state finances. He supported the temporary income tax increase, and believes it should be allowed to expire in 2014. He believes a combination of growth, reform, education investment and budget cuts is the most effective path to balancing the budget.
Mr. Anderson has signed the Save Illinois Taxpayers Pledge crafted by the For the Good of Illinois political action committee. It calls for freezing local property taxes in Illinois for three years, immediately repealing the 2011 state income and corporate tax increases, and a forensic audit of the state.
Mr. Anderson said Illinois has a corruption problem and the cost of the audit would be trivial compared to the savings it would find. Mr. Verschoore doesn't support a forensic audit without some idea of what investigators should be looking for. Illinois Auditor General Bill Holland said it would take 10 years and at least $150 million to conduct one, he said. He's right, it's a costly gamble without any certain reward.
Though we believe the temporary income tax hike should be allowed to sunset on schedule, unless significant cuts or other money-saving reforms are made, losing that revenue now would only exacerbate Illinois' current untenable financial position. Additionally, a blanket property tax freeze could cripple counties, cities and schools. Their largest expenses are employees and many have already negotiated multi-year union contracts. A property tax freeze could result in significant layoffs and/or loss of services. Mr. Anderson's own experience with efforts to privatize the Moline ambulance service illustrate why such choices must be made at the local level, not in Springfield.
There are, of course, decisions that must be made in the Statehouse which have a direct and lasting impact on a legislator's local community and that is where Mr. Verschoore has shone. Amid the raucous, anything-goes atmosphere in Springfield, he has quietly compiled an impressive list of accomplishments that includes an Amtrak stop, new and better roads, money for local schools and, the crown jewel, Western Illinois University Quad Cities Riverfront Campus.
Mr. Anderson doesn't much resemble the candidate we first met in the Republican primary. He has learned on the run and developed an impressive grasp of the issues. One wonders, however, how effective a new and inexperienced lawmaker of the minority party could be in representing the 72nd District in Springfield.
With tough decisions to be made, capital improvement funds remaining to be doled out, and the Democrats likely retaining control, we believe the district needs Mr. Verschoore's steady hand in Springfield. He is recommended.
Today is Monday, April 21, the 111th day of 2014. There are 254 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: The female sex seems to have gone crazy on the subject of dry goods. When high prices keep them from increasing their wardrobes, they turn to stealing. Yard goods, hats, shoes and other items are being picked up and carried home. 1889 -- 125 years ago: Members of Everts Commandery No. 18, Knights Templar, under Commander H.C. Cleaveland, marched from the Masonic Temple to Trinity Episcopal Church for their annual Easter services. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Nate Hultgren pitched the Augustana College baseball team to a 10-3 victory over Carthage, striking out 11 men and allowing only four hits. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Marvel Leonhardi, a Rock Island High School senior, was the winner of an essay contest on advertising sponsored by The Argus and Advertising Age, a national advertising publication. 1964 -- 50 years ago: The Augustana College band drew a crowd of 1,200 people for its annual home concert in Centennial Hall. The size of the crowd was indicative of the fact the band is rapidly approaching the stature of the Augustana Choir. 1989 -- 25 years ago: A benefit to raise money for extracurricular activities in the Rock Island Milan School District will be April 27 at the Quad City Downs harness race track. People buying $17.50 tickets to the second annual "Night at the Quad City Downs" will be entitled to an evening of harness racing and dinner.