Democrats Iqbal, Paschke talk about priorities for House District 65
Voters in the 65th state House District will choose in the Democratic primary election March 17 between a first-time candidate with heavy financial backing from party leaders, and a county board member who says he's self-funding his campaign.
Martha Paschke, 40, of Geneva, is a former childbirth educator who works as a patient intake coordinator and has extensive volunteer and civic involvement, including spearheading a local "Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America" group after 2016. She describes herself as "socially liberal and fiscally responsible."
Mohammad "Mo" Iqbal, 74, of Elgin, is a lawyer and civil engineer who was elected to the county board in 2018. He has served on the Gail Borden Public Library Foundation board and the city of Elgin's human relations commission, among others, and he describes himself as "fiscally conservative and a centrist."
Paschke has received just less than $157,400 in campaign contributions from Democratic leaders, including $50,000 from Joliet state Rep. Natalie Manley's campaign fund and $38,500 from House Majority Leader Greg Harris' campaign fund, according to state board of elections information.
Paschke said she's made lots of connections in the community and has met elected officials through her activism. "I earned the party's support through the work I have done in the district," she said.
The board of elections shows no contributions so far for Iqbal, who says he has only spent his own money for his campaign and hasn't held any fundraisers. Iqbal said he prides himself in being independent and doesn't expect to make a career out of politics.
Residents of the district need adequate mental health services, particularly in light of the opioid crisis and the rise in suicides among veterans and young people, Paschke said.
Iqbal said property taxes are too high and are driving people to move out of state, so he wants to freeze property taxes for five years to force state agencies to implement budget cuts. "I know this is not going to be easy," he said.
Paschke said it's important to ensure any budget cuts don't cause harm, particularly to schools. She also pointed out the population of District 65 has increased.
"I am not hearing from people that they are concerned with property taxes. I believe that has to do with what people see in the value they are getting," she said.
Iqbal said he wants state transportation funds to go to areas west of Randall Road, where growth is happening. Paschke said Route 20 "definitely needs work."
Both candidates support a graduated income tax, which voters will decide on in November, and the Fair Maps Amendment, which would reform the state's redistricting rules and some lawmakers want to place on the ballot in November.
Iqbal supports term limits for state legislators, while Paschke says voters should decide who stays in office.
House District 65 includes Pingree Grove and parts of Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles, Elgin, South Elgin, Hampshire and Huntley. The winner will face Republican Dan Ugaste in the November general election.