State Sen. Matt Murphy is facing David Page, an Arlington Heights financial analyst, in his quest to be re-elected for a fourth term representing the 27th district in the Illinois Senate.
Murphy, a Palatine lawyer who was first elected in 2006, didn't have a primary challenger in March. Likewise, no Democrats ran in the primary, and Page was slated this summer.
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Leaders of the Palatine and Wheeling Township Democratic organizations say it'll be an uphill climb for him to beat Murphy.
Nevertheless, Page said he is dedicated to the race and is disgusted with "politics as usual" in Springfield.
"It's scary to see where we've come in the last 10 years. All of the issues relate back to money, but people are more concerned with the constant state of politics in Springfield," said Page, who is president of the Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 school board.
The two candidates agree the biggest problem facing Illinois is the dismal financial state, which ties in the unfunded pension system, recent tax increase and spending issues. Page suggests a five-year budget plan for the state, similar to how many businesses and smaller units of government do their budgeting.
In dealing with the pension issue, both Murphy and Page said it's important to have as minimal an impact, if any, on older workers closest to retirement, while phasing in changes for younger workers.
"When you do this you have to solve the problem in a lasting way and I'd prefer to do as little as possible to retirees," Murphy said.
Murphy also suggested extending the retirement age, requiring employees to pay a larger percentage of their salary into the pension system and/or replacing the 3 percent compounded cost-of-living adjustment with a simple interest increase pegged to the CPI.
Neither candidate is in favor of passing pension costs onto local school districts.
"Step one is to sit with all the stakeholders and talk about what each side is realistically willing to give up," said Page. "The writing was on the wall for this, and that's what upsets me."
The two candidates even agree on a surprising issue -- concealed carry.
"We need precautions, but there's no reason that reasonable people can't bear arms," said Page, breaking ranks with most of his fellow Democrats who are opposed to concealed carry. "It should make our state no less safe."
Page said he doesn't pay much attention to party labels, although he's running as a Democrat. He vows to work across the aisle and says he won't just follow majority leader Mike Madigan.
"It's not about which party is in control or by how much, but the individuals," Page said. "I'm not the type of person who falls in line behind anyone."
Murphy said that promise is easier said than done, however.
"We need a more competitive balance in Springfield," Murphy said. "Madigan has all the control and it has not served us well."
The 27th state senate district includes parts of Arlington Heights, Barrington, Buffalo Grove, Inverness, Palatine, Wheeling, Prospect Heights and South Barrington.
• You can view the new legislative and congressional districts at gis.elections.il.gov/map_viewer/default.aspx.