48th House candidates bring different political experience to the table
With 11 of his bills passed into law during his first term in office, Republican Peter Breen feels he's getting things done in the Illinois House.
He says that success is his primary motivation to run for a second 2-year term as representative for the 48th District.
"I've seen that I can do some good," said the 40-year-old from Lombard. "If I didn't think I was getting anything done as state representative, or if I thought there was nothing to be done, I wouldn't continue with the position. I have plenty of other things to do with my life."
But Democrat Steven Swanson, 71, thinks he could do better. The recently retired Lutheran pastor, also from Lombard, has not held any elected positions, but believes his passion for serving others gives him a shot in his challenge against Breen in the Nov. 8 general election.
"I love government," he said, adding that he has high regard for the dedicated people serving in Springfield. "I've been tempted to do this my entire career."
Breen said, however, he is already in the process of building a résumé residents in the 48th District -- which covers all or parts of Glen Ellyn, Wheaton, Lombard, Villa Park, Oakbrook Terrace and Downers Grove -- can be proud of.
He started his political career as a precinct committeeman in 2009 and served as village trustee, and acting village president for a brief period, in Lombard from 2011 to 2014.
Since becoming a state representative, Breen says he has maintained his strong principles while working across the aisle. He is especially proud to have been one of two House Republicans selected to serve on an eight-person reform working group, which is assigned to negotiate the major reforms necessary to reach a budget agreement. "To have a Republican in DuPage County on that committee, it's a good thing, to make sure we have a voice," he said.
Breen said his top priority is turning around the economy, so people can stop feeling like they need to flee the state to find a better life for themselves and their families.
"If you're running for state representative and that's not the reason you're running, I don't know who you're talking to or what planet you're on," he said. "For me, the way you get that done, you put the fiscal house in order. You do a lot of the reform work that we've got to do. I've been trying to shine a light on bad practices in the state government, top to bottom. That work has got to continue."
Swanson said if elected, his top three priorities would be adopting a fair budget, pushing through a constitutional amendment for fair taxes and providing more social services to assist with joblessness and health problems like the heroin epidemic.
"I've been very much involved in watching justice issues as a pastor for a long time and I think we must do better," he said. "We need to have a budget adopted, a fair budget that provides stability for our business climate, a fair budget that will maintain all the services that the state provides: roads and schools, police, parks, courts, care for the vulnerable. A budget that voters will see gives value to their tax dollars."
Swanson said he believes state government can be good, but he doesn't agree with the way Gov. Bruce Rauner is running it. "It's not right, it's not morally acceptable for me, to hold hostage our social services, our universities in order to get across his political agenda," he said.
Although he hasn't held any political positions, Swanson has been civically involved for many years. He has served on committees and boards for the Kiwanis, Advocate Health Care, the DuPage Federation on Human Services and Villa Park. He also spent two weeks in 1994 volunteering as an intern for Sen. Paul Simon in Washington, D.C.
"I stood in amazement to watch senators in opposite parties talk impassionately to each other about how to solve our problems," he said. "It was a very fun opportunity."