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updated: 2/27/2012 5:08 PM

GOP state Senate District 31 candidates discuss their economic ideas

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  • Linwood "Lennie" Jarratt

    Linwood "Lennie" Jarratt

  • Joe Neal

    Joe Neal

  • Lawrence "Larry" Leafblad

    Lawrence "Larry" Leafblad

  • Michael White

    Michael White


Four candidates in the Republican primary for the 31st Senate District have ideas on how to boost the economy for the areas they would represent.

Voters will select from Linwood "Lennie" Jarratt of Round Lake Beach, Michael White of Lindenhurst, Joe Neal of Wadsworth and Lawrence "Larry" Leafblad of Grayslake in the March 20 election.

Melinda Bush of Grayslake, who's unopposed in the Democratic primary, will face the Republican winner in the November general election. The 31st Senate District covers most of northern and parts of central Lake County.

Republican state Sen. Suzi Schmidt of Lake Villa isn't seeking re-election. Domestic troubles prompted Schmidt's decision to not enter the GOP primary.

White, Jarratt, Neal and Leafblad addressed various campaign issues in Daily Herald questionnaires and in an editorial board group interview. One question pertained to what they would do to boost the economy in the 31st Senate District.

Jarratt said a business-friendly atmosphere must be created to stop Illinois companies from moving from Lake County to just over the state line into Wisconsin.

"All businesses in Illinois need lower taxes and a stable future," said Jarratt, owner of a website design and consulting business.

Leafblad, an independent senior consultant for Ambit Energy, said he would vote to reduce taxes on employers if elected to the state Senate.

"Business is fleeing Illinois' caustic business climate," Leafblad said. "And, because the district borders Wisconsin, they are prime targets to move. Many iconic businesses in Lake County have already made their (Wisconsin) land purchases, further creating a tax imbalance in Illinois."

Neal, a civil and transportation engineer, said repealing the individual and corporate increases that became effective in January 2011 would help make the Wisconsin appeal less enticing to Lake County businesses.

"I would also support eliminating businesses' startup fees for a duration of up to five years and implementing additional workers' compensation and unemployment insurance law reforms," Neal said.

White said getting state spending under control and reducing regulations that stifle small-business growth would benefit the Senate district he wants to represent.

"If business and citizens see state government taking serious action, they will respond by investing in Illinois," said White, a branding and marketing consultant.

All four GOP candidates and Bush are making their first run at state Senate. Bush is a member of the Lake County Board, where Leafblad previously served.

Neal, Jarratt and White have never held an elected post.

Meanwhile, three of the GOP candidates and Bush have reported donations of $1,000 or more this month, according to Illinois State Board of Elections records. A report must be filed whenever a candidate collects at least $1,000 from a single donor in a year.

Leafblad gave $5,900 to his campaign this month, with another $5,000 coming from a real-estate company owned by Libertyville political activist Jack L. Martin.

Neal received $13,500 from outside sources in February. State records show the Stand for Children Illinois political-action committee was his top contributor at $7,500.

White provided $4,285 to his campaign committee. Jarratt has yet to report any donations of $1,000 or more this month.

Bush received $1,000 from the Chicago Area Laborers' Political Action & Education League.

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