Election 2012: State Senate—25th District
Challengers Pierog, Oberweis seek State Senate seat
A pair of challengers will face off to win the seat representing the 25th District in the Illinois State Senate.
With a background in education, as well as being a small-business owner and community volunteer, Corinne Pierog regularly sees first-hand the struggles of the middle class in Illinois. She said she is running for office to help ease those struggles.
“People in my community are struggling. I am from and support the middle class, and I can be the advocate who understands their problems and can be their voice in Springfield,” she said.
With time spent on the St. Charles School Board, as well as the City Council, Pierog has experienced working with groups of all sizes and people of all means, facing a variety of challenges.
“All of our residents must be able to succeed. I want our kids to achieve their dreams,” she said.”I don’t want families to have to choose between funding their 401K and paying their child’s college tuition. And I want our seniors to enjoy their retirement with dignity. I want to make sure our economic and social policies reflect the needs of our businesses, our residents and our social service agencies.”
If elected, Pierog said she would focus on three areas: jobs, education, and property tax relief.
Economic growth is vital to secure a more stable future for the state’s residents, she said, and focusing on certain areas of the economy are important to the state’s economic turn-around.
“We need to reinvigorate our state as a hub of transportation, agriculture, education and innovation. And our entrepreneurs and small businesses must be given the tools and training they need to succeed and create jobs,” she said.
Pierog explained that unemployment and underemployment are best overcome through education. With technology and innovation driving the economy and what it continues to evolve into, the workforce must learn the skills it needs to meet the demands of change.
“We need to support STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education for our children and job retraining opportunities for displaced workers,” she said.
While all of that goes on, which can take time to occur, Pierog said work needs to be done to provide economic relief sooner.
“Supposedly, there are two things in life we can’t avoid—death and taxes,” she said. “But just because we can’t avoid taxes doesn’t mean we can’t have some relief from too heavy tax burdens. People today are struggling to find jobs, to pay bills, to keep their homes. When they are hit with an annual high real estate tax, it can put them under water. Many residents in District 25 are faced with just this dilemma. They need relief.”
Pierog also wants to address an underlying issue statewide that she feels negatively impacts the entire system. She explained than Illinois contains nearly 7,000 governmental entities, and the volume of different political bodies creates the opportunity for corruption and lack of transparency, making any efforts to improve the state difficult, if not impossible.
“Obviously there appears to be no shortage of news about Illinois’ storied history of political corruption, and equally an enormous amount of ideas presented on how to make our government more ethical and transparent,” she said. “What seems to be missing, however, is the mandate from the voters to engage the change, by demanding through their voice and their vote a responsible and ethical government. I will be a candidate to champion that voice.”
A lifelong entrepreneur, Jim Oberweis wants to see the trajectory change for the state of Illinois.
“I decided to run for this office because I want the future of Illinois to be better than the past,” he said. “I want my children and grandchildren to have the same opportunities with which I was blessed as a lifelong Aurora area resident. I see a decline in public safety, education, fiscal responsibility, employment opportunities and infrastructure. Illinois can and must improve in all aspects.”
Oberweis started Oberweis Asset Management from nothing, and helped build Oberweis Dairy from 50 employees to the more-than-1,000 employees it has today. He said that real-world business experience is what is required to turn the state around.
“I know what it takes to bring successful companies to Illinois, as well as to prevent companies from wanting to leave our state. I’ve had first-hand experience in dealing with government over-regulation, negotiating union contracts, providing health coverage to employees, and overcoming a variety of hurdles to build a successful business,” he said. “I want to take that knowledge to Springfield to get our state working again.”
Oberweis said he wants to make the state more “business friendly,” thereby securing more jobs and opportunities for Illinois residents. He intends to help solve the state’s underfunded pension issue, calling it a “mess,” and wants to make the state’s Workman’s Comp laws more like the surrounding states. Additionally, Oberweis wants to ensure that the temporary income tax increase is truly temporary, if not repealed outright.
“I will also work for term limits for state legislators. Eight years in any office is long enough,” Oberweis said. “We need to return to citizen legislators instead of career politicians.”
When addressing the state’s struggling economy, he said the first thing that needs to happen is to repeal the 67 percent increase in the state income tax.
“This was promised to be a temporary increase, and I plan on making sure it will be temporary.”
He said the economy will continue to stagnate until the state’s unfunded pension liability of over $80 billion is resolved. He suggested that the state consider changing the current defined benefits plan to a defined contribution plan for new state employees.
“This would begin to put us on the path of fiscal responsibility,” Oberweis said.
The key to accomplishing these goals is for a change in approach from state legislators. Instead of focusing on winning their next election, they should focus on solving problems.
“My focus will be on improving the future for Illinois, not on getting re-elected,” he said.”I will work with Republicans and Democrats to do the right things to solve our problems. I’ve been pretty good at getting people to work together in the past, and I believe I can do that in Springfield.”