State Rep. Kay Hatcher is proud of the changes she's seen in her first two years in Springfield starting with her first vote to impeach Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Challenger Linda Healy thinks, however, Hatcher could have done more to avoid partisan political pressure and stand up for her constituents.
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Healy, a Democrat from Aurora, wants the 50th District seat held by Republican Hatcher of Yorkville. The district stretches from Interstate 80 on the south up to and including parts of Kane and Kendall counties.
Asked what she wants, Healy is emphatic: "Change. Big change. Capital C-H-A-N-G-E. Please.
Healy, the retired former director of Mutual Ground domestic violence shelter in Aurora lobbied legislators for years for funding for social service agencies such as hers. "I have just become so discouraged," she said, particularly during the 2009 state budget fight. That summer, due to delays in reimbursement from the state, she shut the overnight part of the shelter for two weeks, until a private foundation picked up the bill to reopen.
She said what "pushed her over the edge to run was being told by Hatcher that the Republican Party leadership "wouldn't let Hatcher help.
"I believe in people over politics," Healy said. "I'm running as a very independent Democrat."
But Hatcher also characterizes herself as not so much a party-line follower, but an "issue-by-issue" guy, examining each piece of legislation by asking, "Does it make government bigger or smaller? Will the law place a burden on someone, or remove one?"
Like Hatcher, Healy said she favors term limits for party leadership positions in the House. That includes House Majority Leader Michael Madigan, whose followers asked her to run and supplied a campaign handler, she said.
"Madigan has been in way too long, and he can stop any bill. Which is not right," Healy said.
"Term limits for leaders would make all the difference," Hatcher said, in getting legislators from both parties to work together on solutions to the state's problems, such as its finances. Hatcher and Healy also favor caps on the amount of money leaders can donate to others' campaigns.