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updated: 11/7/2012 12:03 AM

Harris wins in 53rd Illinois House

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  • David Harris, left, and Curt Renz.

      David Harris, left, and Curt Renz.

 

State Rep. David Harris is going back to Springfield, after winning the 53rd House district Tuesday with almost 60 percent of the vote.

Harris, of Arlington Heights, got 27,328 votes to 18,816 for Democrat Curt Renz, according to unofficial returns from all 82 precincts.

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Harris had listed pension reform to reduce the financial load on the state budget as his number one priority. He said a solution is needed so badly that he would even appreciate one that comes during the so-called lame duck session before the new legislators are sworn in January.

"Something has to be done," he said. "Everyone agrees on that. The disagreement is over what that something is. All parties, including the state and the unions, must be involved so we don't end up in court forever."

More than 30 current legislators will not return in the new session, and thus might vote for something that otherwise would not be politically palatable, said Harris, who generally does not approve of passing major legislation during such a session.

Renz said he was pleased with his showing, which demonstrates there is a core of Democrats in the newly drawn 53rd district, and thanked Harris for running a positive campaign.

Neither party put money into this race, which features a newly-drawn district that leans Republican. Two years ago when Harris unseated one-term Rep. Mark Walker, $1 million went into the two campaigns, much of it from the parties. This year both parties contributed considerable funds to nearby, more competitive races.

Renz, who was appointed to the ballot after no one ran in the Democratic primary, said his job as a candidate was to uphold more liberal positions on social issues including abortion and gay rights. He said he and Harris are both fiscal conservatives.

Harris will serve his second consecutive term, but he served a decade in the Illinois House in the late 1980s and early '90s.

During the campaign, Harris broke with many Republicans in supporting shifting future pensions to local school districts and the state universities -- with caveats.

He maintains the school districts can handle the expense if the responsibility is shifted over a number of years and if district officials get to determine future pension benefits. He predicts this step would result in lower salaries for teachers and administrators. He also disagrees with other suburban Republicans that such a move would increase property taxes.

The 53rd District includes parts of Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Mount Prospect and Prospect Heights. Both candidates live in Arlington Heights.

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