State Senate candidates Cullerton, Lewis disagree on term limits

Updated 10/11/2016 4:32 PM
  • Democrat Thomas Cullerton, left, and Republican Seth Lewis are candidates for the 23rd District state Senate seat.

    Democrat Thomas Cullerton, left, and Republican Seth Lewis are candidates for the 23rd District state Senate seat.

Candidates in the Illinois Senate District 23 race joked during a recent meeting with the Daily Herald editorial board that the biggest difference between them is their hair.

When they got into the issues, they weren't too far off. One of the few gaps between them surfaced when discussing their thoughts on term limits.

Both incumbent Democrat Thomas Cullerton, the former village president of Villa Park, and Republican Seth Lewis, a small-business owner, say they would support term limits for legislative leaders. But Lewis would take such limits even further.

"Unequivocally I absolutely believe in term limits, especially for the state of Illinois," he said. "I believe the lack of term limits has put us in the position we are in now where we have a speaker of the House and a president of the Senate who have been in there for longer than many residents of the state of Illinois have even been alive.

"If elected, I would propose the term-limit initiative be on the ballot as a constitutional amendment for the next election."

For legislative leaders, Lewis suggests no more than five sessions. For rank and file legislators, Lewis suggests limits of 10 to 12 years for senators and no more than 14 years for representatives. He would also like to see the governor's seat capped at two terms.

Cullerton pledges to vote for term limits for legislative leaders, but he cites his admiration for former Republican Sen. Kirk Dillard, who represented the 24th District from 1994 until he resigned in August 2014, for why he can't support limits for the general assembly.

"When we talk about term limits for just straight legislators, I don't know if I'm still totally bought into that mode. I thought Kirk Dillard was an absolutely amazing senator for the district. I think he would have won re-election handily," Cullerton said. "When the legislators actually elect their leaders, as opposed to the public electing their leadership, that's where we get into murky water and a lot of bad territory."

The 23rd District is a mostly northern DuPage County district that stretches from Lewis' hometown of Bartlett on the northwest to Cullerton's hometown of Villa Park on the southeast.

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