Cary Collins can officially campaign as the GOP-slated candidate for the 22nd Illinois Senate District seat. Party leadership voted Monday night to approve the former Hoffman Estates trustee for the November ticket. He now needs to finish gathering 1,000 voter signatures and file with the state board of elections.
Collins is taking on incumbent Sen. Michael Noland of Elgin, who has served in his position since 2007. He said he plans to be an independent voice in Springfield and someone who will not be swayed by lobbyists or party leaders.
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"My philosophy is going to be 'All I care about is benefiting the residents and people of Illinois,'" Collins said. "That's my concern."
Collins, an attorney, served for eight years each on the Hoffman Estates Park District board and the Hoffman Estates village board.
Collins has until June 25 to turn in his petition for candidacy and doesn't expect a problem with collecting signatures -- he has been campaigning for the position since December.
Noland hesitated to comment about his potential opponent because he is not on the ballot yet, but he said it would be better for voters if he ran in a contested race.
"I welcome the challenge," Noland said. "It will help the people, not only in this district but the state of Illinois, to make decisions on the most important issues before the General Assembly," Noland said.
Collins said too much money is being given in entitlements in Illinois, including unemployment, funding of which he said should be shifted to infrastructure projects to create jobs. He thinks the education system needs work and he supports voucher programs and charter schools.
On what Noland said is the number one issue for the state, pensions, Collins has extensive knowledge through his work as a municipal lawyer -- he represents police and fire pension boards across Illinois.
"The present system cannot operate," Collins said. "It will collapse under its own weight because of the benefits."
Collins recommends higher contributions by participants and employers for police and fire pensions. When it comes to teacher pensions, Collins said a "knee-jerk fix" would be to shift the burden from the state to school districts. But while it would have been a good way to start the pension program, it would now leave taxpayers worse off than they are now.
Noland is a member of Gov. Pat Quinn's pension committee and has been gathering information for the last few months to "do what's both fair and constitutional for all the stakeholders." Tax and Medicaid reform are also Noland's top priorities for a potential next term.
If Collins makes it onto the ballot, both candidates will have a chance to pitch their ideas to voters throughout the summer and fall.
The 22nd district covers portions of Kane and Cook counties.