Republican state Sen. Dan Duffy of Lake Barrington and his Democratic challenger Amanda Howland of Lake Zurich both tout what they see as their independence from the political structure of Springfield as what makes them the best choice for voters of Illinois' 26th District.
While Duffy said his differences with the controlling Democratic Party of House Speaker Michael Madigan are obvious, Howland said she represents the kind of independent-minded candidate that Madigan recognizes as being of no value to his power base.
"I'm not taking a dime from the (Democratic) party," she said.
A trustee of the College of Lake County, Howland said the negative impact state politics is having on education is impossible for her to ignore. The partisan fighting in Springfield is hurting Illinois in numerous other ways as well, she adds.
"I see things I've never seen before," she said of the state's political gridlock.
Howland said believes her tenure as a college trustee gives her the experience of creating balanced budgets, and her professional experience as an attorney provides her with the skills of working with others of differing opinions.
Those skills are lacking in many incumbents of both political parties, but are essential to getting Illinois back on track, she said.
Duffy said he has contributed to solutions in Springfield even as a member of the minority party.
Only voices like his own can produce the three things Illinois needs most -- job growth, fighting corruption and lower taxes.
Among Duffy's top priorities are eliminating the state income tax increase, reforming Medicaid and workman's compensation and raising the retirement age to 67. Without these, entrepreneurs will have no interest in locating or keeping small businesses in Illinois, he said.
Both candidates agree that legislative perks are an excellent place to start in reining in the state budget.
"I think we should cut all perks," Duffy said. "I'm going to continue to push for more online transparency."
Duffy said legislators get mileage reimbursement for their travel to Springfield, but he sees no reason for state cars and planes.
Howland agrees there has been abuse of legislative perks, and hopes to further cut from the budget the costs of nepotism and officials' "double-dipping" in more than one job or pension.
The 26th District includes portions of Cuba, Wauconda, Ela, Vernon, Fremont, Libertyville and Warren townships in Lake County; Barrington and Hanover townships in Cook County; Algonquin and Nunda townships in McHenry County; and Dundee Township in Kane County.