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updated: 10/7/2010 4:22 PM

42nd House candidates debate budget, service

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An astronomical budget deficit at the state level has created a political storm that incumbents must steer through during this election season.

However, one DuPage County Republican incumbent in the Illinois House hopes voters consider her responsiveness at the local level before they cast their ballot Nov. 2.

State Rep. Sandy Pihos of Glen Ellyn said her role in organizing and promoting health fairs and other events for seniors and her advocacy for children's literature are just a few examples of what she has done for her constituents in House District 42 since she took office in 2003.

"I think that word spreads when you're sincere in your intent to help people, Pihos said. "I would hope that people realize that about me and would want to keep me in place for that reason, because that will continue.

Pihos' Democratic challenger, Kay Vlahos of Downers Grove, said that isn't enough to justify sending Pihos back to Springfield.

"This job is more than just customer service, she said. "The big job is having wise policies and having a budget that works, things that this legislature has not been able to do over the last few years. I do not see that she's been a leader in solving those problems.

The problem is a budget gap that has ballooned to $13 billion and has had lawmakers scratching their heads for more than a year. While Gov. Pat Quinn has proposed an increase to the sales tax, his Republican opponent in the governor's race, Bill Brady, said recently that all state agencies should pitch in by cutting 10 percent of their respective budgets.

Vlahos has supported Quinn's proposal previously and said she is running for office because of the budget mess.

"The legislature is continuing to refuse to solve the budget crisis and I thought something has to get it done, she said. "If that problem is not solved, then there is not going to be success in any other issue.

Pihos said the solution is more complicated than simply jumping on Quinn's proposal. First, lawmakers must address their spending issues.

"We have to wrap our arms around how and why we spend our money the way we do, she said. "Giving more money into the system without it being tied down to debt reduction is not going to do us any good.

The 42nd District includes a large part of Glen Ellyn and smaller parts of Lisle, Oakbrook Terrace, Downers Grove, Westmont and Lombard.