The three people seeking to be the next state 65th House District representative agree Illinois' finances, including its budget and pension obligations, are a mess that hurts residents, taxpayers and businesses.
So it was a question on a social issue -- gay marriage -- that revealed a difference.
Debbie Miller of Elgin, Steve Andersson of Geneva and Dan Ugaste of Geneva were at a forum Thursday organized by a civics committee at Del Webb's Sun City development in Huntley. Audience members submitted questions in writing.
The Republican candidates were asked if they would have voted in favor of gay marriage, or if they would vote to repeal the law.
Miller said she would have to study the issue. "We have the freedom to make our own decisions in life ... and I don't like when the government gets involved in those decisions," she said.
Ugaste was more specific. "I do not believe in the redefinition of marriage," he said.
Andersson said marriage is a "religious question" to be determined by religious bodies, not the state.
"But more importantly, that is a question that has already been decided and is a distraction at this point ... this is a waste of energy at this point," he said. Legislators should be focusing on the state's financial problems instead, he said.
During closing comments, Ugaste disagreed.
"Those issues, folks, they are not distractions. Any issue that is an important issue to anyone in this room is not a distraction," he said. "Just because a piece of legislation has passed doesn't mean it doesn't need to be repealed or have something done to it."
Andersson defended his stance, saying state legislators have a "limited amount of time and energy" with which to work, and that his top priority is fixing the state budget. "We don't need other issues to consume energy. You want to revisit other issues later, that's dandy."
All three candidates said they would not support extending the income tax increase or instituting a graduated income tax. Andersson and Miller favored instituting a defined-contribution pension plan for new employees in the state's pension plan. Ugaste said he was open to that, but that it may not be necessary if other ideas, such as raising retirement age or capping benefits, could reduce the defined-benefit pension burden.
The 65th District includes all or parts of Geneva, St. Charles, Campton Hills, Plato Center, South Elgin, Elgin, Pingree Grove, Hampshire and Huntley.
Current Rep. Tim Schmitz is not seeking re-election.
No Democrat has filed for election.