Lauzen, Michels to compete for 25th State Senate

By on January 29, 2010

Two Republicans face off; Democrat runs unopposed

Sugar Grove Village President Sean P. Michels of Sugar Grove is challenging incumbent State Sen. Chris Lauzen of Aurora in the Republican primary for the 25th State Senate District. Running unopposed in the primary is Democratic challenger Leslie N. Juby of Geneva.

Sean P. Michels
For Sugar Grove Village President Sean P. Michels, his decision to run for the 25th State Senate District is based on his desire to bring more tax dollars back to the area.

With the district’s primary route of traffic being Route 47, Michels is familiar with the roadway and the improvements that are needed. He said the state has made no major improvements to the roadway even as the area population grew dramatically. Kane County has been working toward ramp improvements to the Interstate 90/Route 47 interchange, and the village of Sugar Grove has been working on ramp improvements at the Interstate 88/Route 47 interchange. He said these projects need help at the state level.

“We need someone in Springfield that will work with the two state representatives from the district to get these road improvements done,” Michels said.

Michels is a lifelong resident of the area. He has lived in Sugar Grove for the past 20 years and grew up in Elburn. He graduated from Kaneland High School in 1981, and received an associate’s degree from Waubonsee Community College (WCC) in Sugar Grove in 1983 and a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and economics in 1985. He went on to receive an MBA from Aurora University in 1989.

His employment history has been local, as well. He has worked as a project manager for McCue Builders since 1998, as a business development officer from 1996-98, was an economics instructor at WCC from 1994-95, and was a trust officer at GreatBanc Trust Company from 1988-96.

During many of those years, Michels also served the residents of Sugar Grove in multiple levels of government. He served on the Sugar Grove Park District Board from 1995-97, and on the Sugar Grove Village Board from 1997-99, and has been the Sugar Grove village president since 1999.

He also served on the Kaneland High School Finance Advisory Committee from 2005-09 and on the Metrowest Council of Government Board of Directors from 2007-09, served as a coach in the Sugar Grove Park District, was director of the Silver Stars Basketball program from 2006-09, and is a Sunday school teacher at St. Mark’s church.

With that combination of local government experience, community service and knowledge of the area, he said he is the right person for the job.

“In my 10 years as village president of Sugar Grove, I have had to work with other elected officials, regardless of political affiliation, to get projects done to benefit the area,” Michels said. “I worked with our congressman to obtain federal transportation money to make infrastructure improvements that will help attract new businesses to diversify our tax base. The Village Board and I worked with our state representative to get Route 56 repaved prior to the Solheim Cup.”

He said another example of working with other officials to reach a shared goal was his work on cutting village expenses to address the financial struggles facing the village in the current economic downturn. He said this cost-cutting process has been vital in helping the village address its financial challenges without having to implement additional taxes.

“These are examples of how I have worked at the local level to improve the area, and firmly believe I can do the same at the state level,” Michels said.

What he plans to do at the state level is work with other state officials to help improve local representation in Springfield.

“My number one issue for the 25th District is to work in cooperation with the two state representatives and all the other elected officials within this district to better represent the people of the district,” Michels said. “I believe that voters are looking for results and an advocate for the needs of the district.”

Part of what Michels counts as results are more tax dollars returning to the district.

“For far too long the 25th state senate district has been a net payer out of tax dollars,” Michels said. “This district needs a voice in Springfield that will work hard to bring our tax dollars back to maintain the quality of life that we have come to expect.”

In addition to returning more tax dollars to the district, Michels said he will focus on the state’s budget crisis.

“One of the most important issues we face is the state budget,” he said. “We need to get a handle on the state’s expenses in particular. We cannot raise taxes to add an additional burden and discourage economic development in our state or the tax base will shrink and we will have a self-perpetuating crisis.”

He said that the state’s pension system must be changed by phasing out defined benefit pension plans for current state employees and implementing an employee-contribution pension system for new state employees.

“This would require employees to save for retirement in a similar way that nearly 80 percent of all other employees save for retirement,” Michels said.

Chris Lauzen
Serving as State Senator since 1992, Chris Lauzen said he has a long track record of commitment to his constituents and honesty.

“For 17 years, I have personally returned every telephone call, e-mail, and piece of constituent correspondence,” Lauzen said.

That personal connection to his district is part of why he is running for re-election and why his focus is on bringing honesty and integrity to Springfield.

“Restoring trust in public institutions begins with the personal conduct of elected officials,” Lauzen said. “(I) stand up against self-serving corruption and hypocrisy of leaders in my own Republican Party.”

In addition to his focus on standing up against corruption and hypocrisy, Lauzen said he intends to focus on the protection and creation of more jobs in the private sector, and cutting spending while coming up with innovative solutions for the state to live within its means without having to implement tax increases.

“If higher taxes were the solution to balancing state finances, California, Connecticut and New Jersey would be the most fiscally healthy states,” Lauzen said. “The tax increase premise is obviously wrong, and results in employers and seniors with assets taking their jobs and wealth in retirement elsewhere.”

Lauzen said that the current state budget crisis has been caused by years of mistakes in Springfield.

“Those who have had total control over Illinois state government for the past seven years blamed Blagojevich for all of our problems,” Lauzen said. “However, nearly one year after his impeachment, the financial condition of our state is significantly worse than it was in January 2009 because the same policies and personnel are still basically in place.”

Lauzen said the state should implement a managed care system for Medicaid that is based on common sense. He said this approach is estimated to save the state between $500 million and $1.5 billion annually.

He said that the state could save billions more each year by changing the state pension system by promising less in benefits but actually paying for what is promised.

While cutting costs is essential in Lauzen’s plan to resolve the state’s budget crisis, he said state revenues do need to increase.

“Of course, we need more revenue in Illinois, but the dispute is how we get it,” Lauzen said.

He said that while many in Springfield believe that a minimum 50-percent income-tax increase and applying sales taxes to many services is a legitimate solution, there is a more sensible solution.

“I believe that we ought to get more revenue by putting more folks back to work,” he said. “Seventy-five percent of our state’s general revenue comes from income and sales tax. Both of these increase when people are working and spending money to support themselves and their families.”

Lauzen said he intends to pursue his plans in the same way he has approached his policy agenda in the past, and pointed to multiple accomplishments as evidence. He said the legislative team that represents the 25th Senate District ranked fourth in the amount of money included in the 2009 Road Program, which helped improve the district’s infrastructure. He said he was a lead sponsor of legislation signed into law in 2009 that cut the compensation of all members of the General Assembly by 5 percent for Fiscal year 2010.

In addition, he pointed to proposals that he has made that would resolve the state pension system, specific cost-cutting measures, lead sponsorship of Senate Bill 600 (SB600), which would restore the right of Republican Party primary voters to select their own party representation, as well as pushing for property-tax reduction reform legislation.

Lauzen received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors in management science and English from Duke University in 1974. He became a certified public accountant at the University of Illinois in 1976, and received a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard University in 1978. He is currently a candidate for a doctorate degree in education finance at Northern Illinois University.

During his time in Springfield, he has become the ranking Republican on the Revenue Committee and the Senate Appropriations II Committee. He is a member of the Senate Appropriations I, Senate Consumer Protection, and Senate Pensions and Investments committees; co-chairman of the Legislative Audit Commission; past chairman of the Commerce and Industry Committee; past member of the Republican School Funding Task Force; and member of the Veteran’s Memorial Commission and Governor’s Task Force on Pension Reform. He was a national guest panel speaker at the American Legislative Exchange Council and National Conference of State Legislators.

His community service includes membership in the Geneva Lions Club, the Sons of the American Legion and the Board of Directors for the Compassion Foundation. He also belongs on the Fox Valley Maoris rugby team, the Hearts of Illinois POW/MIA organization, the Illinois Republican National Hispanic Assembly and the Harvard Business School Old Boy rugby team.

Leslie N. Juby
Leslie N. Juby said that her decision to run for state office was based on her experiences as a Geneva School Board member, a post she has held since 2007.

“It didn’t take long (after being on the board), however, before I realized that many decisions facing local school districts came from mandates from lawmakers in Springfield,” Juby said. “I believe that control of education should be returned to the local school districts that can tailor programs specific to their students’ needs.”

She said she also became frustrated with the state’s growing deficit, high unemployment, funding inadequacies and questionable ethics among Illinois officials.

“(This) has led me to run for office so that I may be instrumental in fixing what is wrong with Illinois,” Juby said.

Juby received a Bachelor of Arts degree in language and literature from Governor’s Sate University in 1983, and has been a substitute teacher at Batavia School District.

In addition to her service on the Geneva School Board, Juby has been active in the community. She is an elementary school volunteer, Sunday school teacher; member of the Geneva Beautification Committee; volunteer for Geneva History Center through the Geneva Historic Homeowners Association; former Girl Scout co-leader and building coordinator; and former Sunday school superintendent. She is a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, ASPCA, Humane Society of the United States, Sierra Club, Hooved Animal Humane Society, North Shore Animal League of America, and Cocker Spaniel Adoption Center.

She said her commitment to the community and experience on the Geneva School Board will serve her well if elected to Springfield.

“I have spent the last 10 years as a tireless volunteer with a strong commitment to my community and schools,” Juby said. “As a member of the Geneva School Board, I have been a fair and independent voice. I am a political outsider, not a career politician. My candidacy represents an infusion of new ideas and diverse points of view. I work well with others and am eagerly looking forward to working for change in Springfield.”