Issues such as allowing election day voter registration and expanded gambling were addressed at a forum Saturday by two candidates seeking a state Senate seat in the Northwest suburbs.
Republican state Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine and Democratic challenger David Page of Arlington Heights were among the politicians who participated in the candidate forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Arlington Heights-Mount Prospect-Buffalo Grove Area. The roughly three-hour political potpourri was at the Arlington Heights village hall.
Early voting begins Monday. Election Day is Nov. 6.
Written questions from the audience were posed to the candidates by moderator Edith Auchter, a League of Women Voters Barrington Area member. One of the questions to Murphy and Page, running in the 27th Senate District, was whether they support election day voter registration.
Murphy said there already are opportunities to register before election day, plus options such as early and absentee voting. "My concern would be, with same-day registration, that we are creating an opportunity for election fraud abuse," Murphy said.
But Page contended there are national studies showing a better chance exists of lightning striking someone than of voter fraud occurring. "I'm much more concerned with having people participate in our democracy because not enough people vote today," Page said.
On the issue of gambling expansion, Murphy said while he supported legislation vetoed by Gov. Pat Quinn that would have created more casinos and allowed slot machines at Arlington Park, he doesn't view it as a financial panacea. "This was the only opportunity I was going to have to do what I could to keep this (Arlington) institution viable for our community," Murphy said.
Page said he isn't against gambling per se, but gambling expansion isn't a good way to boost the business base. "What we need to do is to expand businesses, make this state more business-friendly so more small businesses are able to move in here," Page said.
The forum also featured candidates from three state representative races.
Morrison vs. Rudd
Republican state Rep. Thomas Morrison and Democratic challenger Richard Rudd, both of Palatine, addressed whether school districts should become responsible for funding employee pensions. The state currently pays the government share for suburban schoolteachers.
"They should be responsible for what contracts they sign," Rudd, a carpenter, said of schools.
Morrison said if there is a move to have typical pension costs shifted to local school districts, he'd want "a real property tax cap" in exchange and a repeal of many unfunded state mandates. School districts would have more money if some unfunded mandates are eliminated, he said.
He added school employees should be required to pay their full share toward their pensions instead of school districts electing to cover part of that cost, as happens in some districts.
Harris vs. Renz
During his opening statement at the forum, Democrat Curt Renz said running for state representative was on "my bucket list." Republican state House District 53 Rep. David Harris criticized responded: "Ladies and gentlemen, it is not sufficient to run for office because it's on your bucket list."
Renz said gambling expansion is necessary because the state needs the money. Harris said he backs slots at Arlington, but was troubled by the breadth of the legislation Quinn vetoed.
Nekritz vs. Greenberg
Incumbent Democratic House District 57 state Rep. Elaine Nekritz of Northbrook aid she supports shifting pension costs to local school districts.
"It will make sure that those who ... are setting wages and salaries are responsible for paying the (pension) bill associated with that, so that they can take account of all the costs going forward and not shove that off onto somebody else," Nekritz said.
Nekritz said the change could be phased in so school district financial concerns are addressed. Democrat Jonathan Greenberg said a switch would be "a disaster for school boards" and "the fact of the matter is Springfield broke the system and Springfield needs to fix the system."