66th House District candidates talk term limits, pension reforms
How can a newcomer Republican legislator move the needle with majority Democrats in Springfield?
The four candidates contending for the Republican nomination in the House 66th District race March 15 have different approaches to how they would effect change.
Carolyn Schofield, Paul Serwatka, Allen Skillicorn and Dan Wilbrandt are vying for the two-year seat being vacated by incumbent Republican Mike Tryon, who is not seeking another term.
Finding middle ground with Democrats is key to resolving the political impasse, says Wilbrandt, a West Dundee trustee and assistant state's attorney in McHenry County.
"I do it every single day in McHenry County as a state prosecutor," he said.
Schofield, 43, a former Crystal Lake council member and current McHenry County Board member, who has been dubbed the "compromise candidate" by some challengers, said realistically it's impossible for Republicans to get anything done without support from across the aisle.
Skillicorn, 41, an East Dundee village trustee, said House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, has shut Republicans out of reviewing the budget, making it tough to compromise.
"Mike Madigan is holding the budget hostage," said Skillicorn, who advocates putting pressure on suburban Democrats.
Serwatka, 47, a Lakewood village trustee, calls himself a "citizen legislator" whose main strength is he is "not a professional politician."
"Professional politicians are the reason that Illinois is the dismal failure that it is," he said. "Experience and policy expertise is what it takes to bring Illinois back."
Schofield, Skillicorn, and Wilbrandt support term limits for representatives between eight years and 12 years.
"Term limits aren't going to solve the corruption, (but) it may give voters hope," Skillicorn said.
Schofield said eight years is probably too short since developing relationships with other lawmakers and getting support for legislation takes time. "About 12 years I think is long enough," she added. "Turnover in leadership, that's really where we are seeing a stagnant environment."
Wilbrandt said he would support a constitutional referendum to let voters decide on term limits.
On the pension liability crisis, Schofield, Wilbrandt and Serwatka support shifting public employees to self-managed, 401K-type systems.
"It allows them control of their money," Schofield said. "They can hand it down to future generations, which they can't do right now. They can invest it the way they want."
Wilbrandt said the time for reforms is now. "We are already $111 billion behind on unfunded pension liability," he said, adding pension reforms ought to go hand-in-hand with pro-business reforms such as reducing workman's compensation costs to bring people back to Illinois.
Serwatka, who has long been an advocate of defined contributions, said "the politicians and union bosses keep enriching and empowering themselves and keep kicking that can down the road." He has vowed not to take a state pension and pledged to start a property tax relief fund with his first-year's legislative salary.
Skillicorn supports amending the state constitution to put caps on pensions, and gradually raising the retirement age.
"We still have to find a way to pay for legacy costs," he said, adding the Illinois Supreme Court will not allow the state to switch all employees to defined contributions.
The primary winner will face Democrat Nancy Zettler of Algonquin in November.
The district includes portions of McHenry and Kane counties, including Algonquin, Carpentersville, Crystal Lake, East Dundee, Elgin, Huntley, Lake in the Hills, Lakewood, Sleepy Hollow and West Dundee.