49th District state House GOP hopefuls discuss being effective within Democratic majority

The two Republican candidates vying to challenge Democratic incumbent Maura Hirschauer of Batavia for the 49th District state House seat in November recently shared their thoughts on being effective within a Democratic majority, as well as how such single-party dominance developed in the first place.

Hannah Billingsley of West Chicago and Aris Garcia of Streamwood are business owners who will face each other in the Republican primary on March 19.

Garcia said he believes Democratic control of Illinois government came from knowing the art of funneling public-sector money into campaigns, such as providing financial support to teachers unions with the expectation of receiving campaign donations back.

“I don’t think most voters are Democrats, I don’t think they support the Democratic ideals,” Garcia said. “But they see these Democrats on TV every single day. They see them on their Facebook page, on their Instagram page every single day. And yes, it is going to influence people and it’s also going to have conservatives not coming out.”

He said a key difference between conservative voters and Democrats is that conservatives won’t show up for a Republican candidate they don’t like while Democratic voters will show up for every Democratic candidate.

But as far as being effective in Springfield, if he won both the primary and general elections this year, Garcia said the key would be dividing moderate Democrats from the more extreme progressives in the party to reach compromises he could abide on legislation.

“But I’m also the only candidate who has committed to not taking a salary,” Garcia added. “And that’s because I know we’re going to have a real tough time to enact any sort of laws. I don’t think anyone should have gotten a raise in the state legislature this past year. ... We’re going to donate my salary to trade school students and first-time college students.”

Billingsley said the Democratic majority may have come about from the way its members have compellingly presented ideas for solutions, even though they may not be addressing the root of a problem.

“And all of these temporary fixes cost money,” she said. “I think people in Illinois are like, I just want someone to fix my problem. And someone has their hand up saying, I’ll fix your problem. And it’s going to be a Democrat and it’s someone who is going to spend money, and I think people are drawn to that.”

Billingsley said she is the kind of person who likes to work with others, even of opposing viewpoints, to reach compromise. But, she said, the typical Republican, with a message of self-reliance rather than active change may not have the easiest time catching voters’ attention.

“I think sometimes Republicans are hesitant to be a doer,” she said. “They’re OK for things just to be as they are. When you think of a Republican, you’re not thinking of someone with an abundance of energy and ambition, just ready to take things to the next step.”

Embracing compromise is the way to be effective in government, Billingsley said, and its absence is perhaps why conservative voters seeking absolutes in candidates and on issues have lost ground in Illinois.

“Going down to Springfield is going to be a huge job, right? But it’s an opportunity to work together,” Billingsley said. “There’s probably going to be times when I’m working together with someone and the end result is going to be something I’m 80% all about. But if I’m going to make people’s lives 80% better, I’m going to push the go button. Because for me it’s progress over perfection, and I’m not going to be insistent that it’s my way or the highway.”

The 49th District includes parts of Aurora, Bartlett, Batavia, Elgin, Geneva, Hanover Park, Naperville, South Elgin, Streamwood, Warrenville, Wayne and West Chicago.

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