58th District Illinois House candidates agree pensions, term limits need to be addressed
Democratic incumbent Scott Drury, a maverick legislator who has bucked party leadership on key issues such as the budget, is challenged for a third term as state representative in the 58th District by Highland Park resident and attorney Marty Blumenthal.
Both agree issues, such as pension debt and term limits, need to be addressed, but vary in the approaches. The North Shore district extends from Lake Michigan west and includes all or portions of Bannockburn, Deerfield, Glencoe, Highland Park, Highwood, Knollwood, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Lincolnshire, Northbrook, North Chicago and Riverwoods.
Drury, a Highwood resident and former federal prosecutor, said a legislature more independent of party leaders would be more effective and he has decried the failed efforts on both sides to propose and enact a balanced budget.
"My goal from the beginning has been to bring honest, credible government to Illinois," he said. "Having an independent streak in you is a good thing and resonates with the public."
Blumenthal, who also is a CPA, specializes in taxation, civil and criminal litigation and business law. He has not held elected office but said 1,100 write-in votes he received in the March primary showed grass-roots support.
He cited the state budget, term limits for all legislators and independent legislative remaps as priorities.
"I won't compromise on term limits. It was never meant by the Founding Fathers to be a career," Blumenthal said.
"To have a nonpartisan body every 10 years to redraw the legislative districts is important. Sixty percent of the races are uncontested. What kind of democracy is that where you have no choice? Those two things I would not compromise on."
Drury said he was one of the first to propose term limits and has been an outspoken proponent of redistricting, both of which were tenets of Gov. Bruce Rauner's Turnaround Agenda. Drury said that by pushing all five aspects simultaneously, Rauner and the state were sidetracked.
"These were things that I had said I would support, I do support, going back to the early part of his term. Had we started there the rest of the term may have been a lot different these last two years than they've turned out," he said.
Blumenthal said Illinois has lost more than 100,000 manufacturing jobs to Wisconsin and Indiana in recent years because of high workers' compensation premiums and high taxes. He said he may favor of a slight increase in the state income tax but only if it supports a "truly" balanced budget.
Due to a lack of fiscal transparency, the total amount of the Illinois' fiscal hole is unclear, Drury said. That makes it difficult to pinpoint needed cuts and new revenue, but he is committed to working in a bipartisan manner to find solutions, he added.
Blumenthal said the state constitution has to be amended to allow for a switch to a 401(k) type contribution plan. Drury said the Illinois Supreme Court's decision does not leave much opening to address pension liabilities, and any focus must be on proposals that won't result in lengthy litigation with no clear result.