The two candidates for state Senate in the 23rd District agree on one thing: job creation is the most important issue facing their constituents.
But incumbent Republican Carole Pankau and Democratic challenger Tom Cullerton offer different ideas for how state government can spur job creation.
Pankau, 65, of Itasca, said the state should work to improve the processes of starting a business or renewing a business license in Illinois. Cullerton, 42, of Villa Park, said state legislators should assist municipalities in preparing for and recruiting new businesses offering new jobs.
The two are facing off in the Nov. 6 election for a 4-year term representing a district that includes parts of Bartlett, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Itasca and Villa Park.
Pankau, who has represented the 23rd District since 2004, said the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency's online permitting system is a good first step toward streamlining the approvals businesses need to get started. She said more streamlining of permit requirements should be pursued because "the time factor of money" is so important.
"Why would a business come here if it takes them longer to even get the business license, get established," Pankau said. "We have to look at ways to make ourselves unique."
She also suggested removing what she called "onerous fees," such as an extra charge for renewing a business license online instead of by mail. Eliminating those fees would not save individual companies large sums of money, but would help change the perception that Illinois is not a business-friendly state, she said.
"We're losing jobs because we have not started looking at how we can make this a better climate for businesses," Pankau said.
Cullerton's job-creation strategy includes rewarding new or established businesses that are creating jobs with tax credits and giving municipalities the tools they need to retain the retail and industrial companies in their towns.
"We should be working with individual municipalities and cities to see how the state can help them out, how the state can make things easier for them," Cullerton said.
Some areas of the 23rd District, such as industrial parks, could house new endeavors in environmental markets if state and local governments work together to promote and prepare vacant spaces, he said. Helping retrofit old buildings so they can become code-compliant and ready for new tenants is one way the state could help fill vacancies.
"The 23rd District has tons of manufacturing and warehouse space that's going unused," Cullerton said. "We need to find a way to utilize it."