The four Republicans running for the 45th state House seat in the March 18 primary agree Illinois' path back to prosperity begins with creating a business-friendly climate.
"Our government needs to work for its people," said Seth Lewis of Bartlett, one of the candidates. "We need to put in a system where business owners can thrive."
The candidates are vying for the seat vacated by state Rep. Dennis Reboletti, who is running for the state Senate seat Kirk Dillard is leaving in his bid for governor. The winner of the primary will advance to the November general election against Democrat Jenny Burke.
The GOP candidates are Christine Winger of Wood Dale, Daniel Brinkman of Carol Stream, T.J. Lewis of Bartlett and Seth Lewis.
Winger, a 42-year-old financial adviser, is a third-term alderman in Wood Dale with 11 years in office. She said Wood Dale's budget "always has been in the black" during her time on the board.
"I have learned how to budget correctly and plan to take those experiences to Springfield, (where they are) gravely needed," Winger said. "The way to grow Illinois is through predictability. Right now, businesses look at Illinois and it is unpredictable."
Brinkman, 26, who worked for the Illinois House for seven years as a district director and legislative assistant, agrees with his opponents that the 2011 temporary income tax increase should be allowed to expire in 2015, and regulations "choking business growth" should be rolled back. He also is in favor of a statewide forensic audit to examine the state's finances.
"Illinois has more taxing bodies than any state in the union," Brinkman said. "We need to look at which taxing bodies are working and which are not."
Seth Lewis is a 45-year-old owner of a State Farm insurance agency who said his business expertise would serve him well in Springfield. He is married to Dr. Bhavna Sharma-Lewis, superintendent of Riverside School District 96, so he said "I know I'm going down to Springfield to affect her pension."
"I would have voted for the (pension-slashing) Senate Bill 1," Lewis said. "We need to reduce our exposure with pensions. The most important thing is to prevent the shift from coming back to the local taxpayer."
T.J. Lewis, 39, has held positions in the private sector with real estate finance title and trust, in the public sector as a firefighter/paramedic and for five years in the Illinois House as a district director/legislative assistant. He said he is running for office "because of the fiscal crisis."
"What we're seeing now is these small- and medium-size businesses are not going to be able to operate within their margin," Lewis said. "We have to build more of an atmosphere in Illinois that builds trust. We have to be able to advertise to these corporations. Illinois does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem -- but soon it will turn into a revenue problem as more businesses jump ship and leave Illinois."
The 45th District includes all or parts of Addison, Bartlett, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Hanover Park, Itasca, Roselle, Wayne, West Chicago and Wood Dale.