Jobless pains, local gains on candidates' minds

Updated 10/7/2010 11:41 PM

House candidates from both sides of the aisle lined up Thursday night in Naperville to pat themselves and their parties on the back for brokering the deal that eventually kept Navistar on track to move their headquarters into Naperville.

Those jobs, they said, are essential to keep as they promised to fight to bring more employment into the state's economy.


The politicians detailed their plans during the Naperville Area Homeowners' Confederation's third and final candidate forum.

Attending the forum were 48th District incumbent, Republican Mike Connelly and his Democratic challenger Barbara Green, 84th District Democratic challenger Dennis Grosskopf, and 96th District incumbent, Republican Darlene Senger and her Democratic challenger Dawn DeSart.

DeSart credited Attorney General Lisa Madigan for convincing Navistar to stay and said tax breaks and financial incentives are the way to go.

"More and more families are losing their jobs, losing their homes and losing hope while businesses leave our state so I believe complacency and finger pointing are unacceptable. We must create jobs for our businesses and our families, DeSart said. "But we're at a crossroads. We keep these companies or we lose these jobs forever. We are all winners when Navistar and other companies decided, at last, to make their home here.

Incumbent Darlene Senger credited herself and Mike Connelly with pushing legislation that persuaded Navistar to stay in Illinois.

"There's no question that unemployment is the number one question on everyone's mind, Senger said before listing several bills she said were called for a vote in the Democratic-lead House.

"I'm proven on jobs. I'm on the capital bill that created jobs and got the money to widen Route 59.

Green, challenger in the 48th district, gave the credit for Navistar to Gov. Pat Quinn.

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"When it comes to unemployment, I think that due to the rising unemployment and the declining economy, my priority is to create jobs and help rebuild the economy. I think the state should make a stronger investment in small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy. The state should expand small business grants and loans for hiring, Green said. "Also the state could create green collar jobs in areas like wind and solar energy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Connelly said he supports several of the options presented by the other candidates but said there was something they were missing.

"Illinois needs to become a destination economy for private investment capital, he said, while touting his record of assisting companies working with alternative fuels in Naperville.

"We're trying to transform the I-88 telecom corridor into the I-88 alternative fuels corridor and Navistar coming is going to make this thing happen.

Grosskopf said he believes small business support is the key to reviving the state and its jobs.

"Businesses that make the jobs aren't usually small corporations. It's small businesses, mom and pop shops. That is the engine of our economy. As a state we need to make sure these startup small companies have it as easy as possible to start up, he said. "We also need to pay our bills. It's constantly in the news that Illinois is not paying its bills so that's going to scare people away.

Voters will elect their legislators during the Nov. 2 election.