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posted: 10/4/2010 12:01 AM

43rd state House candidates say tough budget choices ahead

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By Tara García Mathewson

Keith Farnham and Ruth Munson, the two candidates running for the state's 43rd House District, didn't disagree on much at the League of Women Voters' debate Sunday in Elgin. But they had more to say to each other than Tim Schmitz and Jennifer Barconi, the 49th House District candidates.

Barconi, a South Elgin resident, was out of town, leaving Schmitz, of Batavia, to pass on debating himself. After making a two-minute opening statement at the Gail Borden Public Library, Schmitz left to campaign door to door.

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Chris and Carl Missele of Elgin, residents of the 49th House district, were disappointed to miss out on a Barconi-Schmitz debate.

"When one person doesn't show up it's not fair," Chris Missele said. "That was our candidate."

Though Barconi was not available, her father and campaign manager, Rich Zielinski, delivered an opening statement on her behalf.

In the 43rd District race, both Farnham, the Democratic incumbent, and Munson, a Republican, advocated scrutinizing the budget but differed in ways to reduce the deficit.

Farnham, an Elgin resident, said changing the structure to a performance-based one rather than a "fantasy budget" would peg programming to actual money the state would take in, rather than hoped-for money in taxes that sometimes do not materialize. He also called for an end to the hiring freeze, replacing expensive overtime with new employees.

Munson, who is also an Elgin resident, pointed to studies claiming $1 billion could be saved by eliminating waste and fraud from Medicaid. She also advocated cutting legislative perks and reducing the number of legislative committees to save on the extra stipends committee chairs receive.

"We need to learn to live within our means and economize," she said.

Neither candidate advocated any type of tax increase.

"You don't give kids candy and say clean your room later," Farnham said, adding later that he doesn't believe giving the legislature more money with increased taxes will solve the state's budget problems.

On questions of immigration and environmental decision-making, both candidates said local control is better.

Munson and Farnham each had one minute to respond to two- and three-part questions posed by the League of Women Voters president Sigi Psimenos. They also had 45 seconds in rebuttal time. Some audience members, including the Misseles, thought that wasn't always enough time for the complicated questions. But Farnham and Munson both said they liked the format.

As for Barconi and Schmitz, there will be other chances to debate. The League of Women Voters of Central Kane County is hosting a candidate forum from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, Oct. 18, at the Norris Center in St. Charles, and both candidates plan to attend.

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