42nd GOP hopefuls talk abortion bill, 'religious freedom' laws
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State Rep. Jeanne Ives' decision to take on Gov. Bruce Rauner in the GOP primary created an unexpected primary battle among three Republicans who supported Ives but now are seeking to replace her in the 42nd legislative district.
The candidates are Winfield Township Republican Chairman Burt Minor of Warrenville, DuPage County Board member Amy Grant of Wheaton and political newcomer Ryan Byrne of Wheaton. All three are Catholic and describe themselves as "pro-life," but Minor says that while he was "disappointed greatly" that Rauner signed a bill allowing tax dollars to pay for abortions, he would work with that existing law. Grant and Byrne disagree.
"Taxpayers should not have to fund abortions," Grant says, adding that she would like to see the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortions be overturned.
Saying that he "wrestles" with the potential "threat of two lives lost" in an illegal abortion, Byrne says, "I don't think it should be funded by taxpayer dollars."
The candidates also differed on so-called religious freedom laws that would allow medical facilities and business owners the right to discriminate against people who request services that are in opposition to the vendors' religious beliefs. Grant and Byrne said businesses should have the right to discriminate for religious reasons, but should strive to be polite, compassionate and civil. Minor disagreed with the laws.
"We have to protect anybody," Minor said.
All the candidates favor some form of term limits for politicians, as well as a restructuring of Illinois' pension system to move future governmental employees into contribution plans such as 401(k) funds.
Byrne supports the legalization of recreational marijuana, which he called a "great, untapped resource" for tax revenue, while Grant and Minor said they would not favor the legalization.
Grant, 62, said her work as a county board member taught her "what it's like to work on a governmental body." Minor, 58, a retired lieutenant colonel with the Air Force, is a former Warrenville alderman. Byrne, 29, who has a degree in mechanical engineering, works as director of marketing at Cunningham Trading Systems.
The 42nd District takes in parts of Wheaton, Warrenville, Carol Stream, Lisle, Winfield, West Chicago and Naperville. The primary election is March 20, and the GOP winner will face Democrat Kathleen Carrier, who has no primary opponents, in the general election on Nov. 6.
The winner will serve a 2-year term.