Voters on Tuesday can either send Republican Kay Hatcher back to Springfield for a third term, or go against recent history and have a Democrat represent the 50th State House District, in the form of Andrew Bernard.
"This is a pretty rare time in Illinois history. If I can help bring Illinois back from the brink of disaster, I'm grateful to do it," Hatcher says.
The Yorkville resident was blunt when asked about undertaking state worker pension reform, saying she has been frustrated with a lack of action. "They don't send us to Springfield to be weenies," she pointed out.
Hatcher, who has refused a state pension, suggests legislators could set an example by modifying or eliminating their state pensions. She's open to the idea of shifting the state's contribution burden for teachers' pensions to local school districts, if it could be done gradually, over many years.
She also favors requiring a three-fifths majority vote on anything fiscal; but the state constitution would have to be amended to allow it. A three-fifths vote would induce more compromise in legislators since they would have to look for votes in their opposing party, she believes. And it could have prevented the 2011 increase in corporate and personal income tax rates, she says.
Bernard, of Batavia, has a "Key 3" plan to improve Illinois. Legislators should focus on job creation, tax relief and welfare reform, he believes.
He favors converting the personal income tax system to a graduated tax, based on income. He also wants to lower the corporate income tax rate, to attract businesses and to keep the ones already here. "I don't need to see any more (businesses) leave," he says.
Bernard suggests that on teacher pension change, the state should look at imposing some regulation on what school boards can offer for pensions in contracts with incoming teachers.
Spending money on infrastructure improvements -- such as roads -- in the 50th District would help: It would create good-paying jobs, and an improved infrastructure would be attractive to businesses.
As for welfare reform, Bernard believes the use of Medicaid must be examined, saying Medicaid spending has "gotten out of control. People are not using the system wisely," he said, citing examples of people going to emergency rooms for ailments that are not emergencies. He has also called for mandatory drug screening of people who receive Temporary Assistance to Needy Families benefits.
Bernard is a gay marriage proponent and favors the legalization of marijuana for medical uses. He also favors letting people in Illinois carry concealed weapons.
Hatcher says she is philosophically and socially moderate, though she opposes gay marriage. "Part of our job is to listen to those we serve. People who have contacted me are overwhelmingly against it," she says.
Hatcher, 66, is a retired Illinois Bell executive and former Kendall County Board chairman. Bernard, 24, is an insurance producer and has a master's degree in public administration.