44th District hopefuls urge thinking beyond partisanship

The candidates for the 44th District state House seat say voters should look beyond their party labels to determine who would be their more effective representative in Springfield.

Democratic incumbent Rep. Fred Crespo of Hoffman Estates and Republican challenger Katy Dolan Baumer of Streamwood said residents of their district can wield an influence over the direction of the state despite the ongoing power struggle between Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Baumer believes Madigan's entrenched position has led to an unfortunate status quo in Illinois that voters in the 44th District can change by helping break Democrats' supermajority in the House.

"People whose doors I knock on continually tell me they like Fred," Baumer said. "But they are tired of the status quo. They want a change. They want their state back. ... I tell them repeatedly, think beyond the label. Think beyond Democrat or Republican."

Crespo responded that he's been anything but a Madigan puppet during his decade in the state legislature. He counts among his supporters the Republican mayors of Hoffman Estates, Schaumburg and Hanover Park.

"I'm proud to say that I have a lot of Republican friends and have gotten support from Republican elected officials," he said. "Unlike Chicago, in the suburbs your success is going to be closely connected to your ability to work with the other side."

But Baumer said there is a need for new ideas and leadership in the House, and only a push for term limits on the position of speaker may bring that about. She said it's unfair that one person from one part of Chicago has controlled the direction of so many state issues for so long.

"Certainly I think the budget is number one, and voters should think really hard on the fact that we're going nowhere quickly and that we have for several years," she said.

Crespo declined to say whether he would back Madigan for another term as speaker, but said he supported fellow Democratic state Rep. Jack Franks' proposal to create term limits for the position.

His most important criteria for House leader is who is best able to bring together a diverse and potentially divided Democratic caucus, he said.

"At the end of the day, I'm taking direction from the people of the 44th District, not the speaker," Crespo added.

Both candidates said they support some of Rauner's positions, but agree the governor could attempt different tactics to mend the trust issues between the two parties.

The 44th District includes parts of Bartlett, Elgin, Hanover Park, Hoffman Estates, Schaumburg and Streamwood.

  The 44th District state representative candidate Katy Dolan Baumer, a Republican from Streamwood, listens to Democratic State Rep. Fred Crespo Monday during an endorsement interview at the Daily Herald. Mark Welsh/
  Republican challenger Katy Dolan Baumer makes a point Monday while meeting with representatives of the Daily Herald editorial board. Baumer, of Streamwood, is seeking the 44th District state House seat currently held by Democrat Fred Crespo. Mark Welsh/
  The 44th District state Rep. Fred Crespo speaks Monday with representatives of the Daily Herald editorial board. Mark Welsh/
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