Democrat Tom Cullerton is challenging 23rd District state Sen. Carole Pankau with a fiscally conservative and socially liberal platform as he runs for her seat in the Nov. 6 election.
Pankau, a Republican with fiscally and socially conservative views, is seeking re-election to the seat she has held since 2005.
The candidates recently met with the Daily Herald and completed candidate questionnaires about their views on how to stabilize the state's budget and on social issues such as gay marriage and abortion.
Cullerton, who serves as Villa Park's mayor and works as a route salesman for Hostess, says legislators need to look for wasteful spending in the state budget and make sure different government departments are collaborating.
"We need all of our departments to work together throughout the state," he said. "We've got to make Springfield far more efficient. If you make that more efficient, you'll at least start to break down some of the costs of doing business with the government."
He also said the state must budget to pay its bills and debts first before assuming there will be money for grant programs or perks.
While his fiscally conservative views may not appease other Democrats, Cullerton, 43, said he aligns with liberals on social issues. He said his opinions are clear to party organizations such as the Senate Democratic Victory Fund, which is supporting his campaign with a $47,838 donation for advertising.
"I'm pro choice, I'm for equal marriage -- that's all been very clear in my platform," he said. "But what's also been very clear is I am fiscally conservative."
Incumbent state Sen. Pankau said she has the "political will" to implement conservative fiscal policies such as continuing the process of Medicaid reform and bringing state spending within its means.
"The state has some really tough issues to face in this next General Assembly," said Pankau, 65, of Itasca. "Pension reform, finances, balancing the budget and not spending more than we're taking in ... Is the political will there to actually bring jobs to Illinois and not raise our taxes? I have the political will."
Socially, Pankau said she believes marriage should remain between a man and a woman, especially now that civil unions are legal in the state. She said in a candidate questionnaire submitted to the Daily Herald that she believes life should be defined as beginning at conception, but "my attention remains on solving our state's financial crisis."
Both Pankau and Cullerton said they could support concealed carry of firearms. Pankau said she would consider a proposal if it included enough safeguards and was endorsed by the law enforcement community. Cullerton said he supports concealed carry as long as a "rigorous background check" is mandated.
Pankau and Cullerton are competing to represent the 23rd state Senate District, which includes parts of Bartlett, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Itasca and Villa Park.