Moylan and Thillens exchange differences one last time before election

 
 
Updated 10/29/2014 6:18 PM
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  • Marty Moylan, left, and Mel Thillens

    Marty Moylan, left, and Mel Thillens

Candidates engaged in a tight battle for state representative of the 55th District met Wednesday for a final debate to lay out their differences before Election Day.

State Rep. Marty Moylan, a Des Plaines Democrat, and Republican opponent Mel Thillens, the Park Ridge park board president, largely held to familiar campaign themes at the event sponsored by the Park Ridge and Des Plaines chambers of commerce at the Park Ridge Country Club.

Moylan touted his record as a freshman state representative in the last two years -- sponsoring anti-hazing legislation and a mobile home park residents "bill of rights" -- as well as his fiscal record as Des Plaines mayor, holding the line on taxes while cutting positions to shore up the city's finances.

"I had to take a city that was heading in the wrong direction and turn it around," said Moylan, who was mayor from 2009 until his election to the state House in 2012.

Thillens, vice president of the Chicago armored truck company that bears his family name, said he wants to improve Illinois' business climate by cutting red tape in licensing and regulations, and lowering taxes.

"I run a business everyday. I know exactly what business people want from their government -- to get out of the way," Thillens said.

Both candidates reiterated their differences on the minimum wage and pension reform.

Moylan says the state's minimum wage should be raised from $8.25 to $10 an hour.

Thillens says the federal government should decide, so as not to create an uneven playing field for businesses from state to state.

He said raising the minimum wage, for example, would cause a "huge spike" in the payroll expense of the Park Ridge Park District, which employs high school and college students as summer camp counselors.

Moylan supported pension reform legislation in an effort to fix the state's growing pension liability. Thillens prefers putting current state employees on a 401(k)-style retirement plan.

In response to a question from debate moderator Joe Campagna, past president of the Park Ridge chamber, only one candidate said who he is supporting for governor.

"Bruce Rauner's got to be the guy who goes to the governor's mansion next," Thillens said. "We've got to change the conversation in Springfield."

Moylan didn't declare.

"I'm concentrating on my election. ... I'm worried about Marty Moylan."

The 55th District includes parts of Des Plaines, Elk Grove Village, Park Ridge, Rosemont, Mount Prospect, Arlington Heights and Rolling Meadows.

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