Republican candidates for governor talk immigration, taxes, election at McHenry County forum – Shaw Local
With less than a month before Illinois’ primary election, it was all smiles and back-pats for three Republican gubernatorial candidates in McHenry County on Saturday evening, as the hopefuls found agreement on a variety of topics and saved their attacks for one candidate who was not present: Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin.
Darren Bailey, a state senator, along with candidates Max Solomon and Gary Rabine all took the stage at Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove.
They shared the stage with lieutenant governor candidate Carolyn Schofield, a McHenry County Board member from Crystal Lake who is Paul Schimpf’s running mate. Jesse Sullivan, who participated remotely in a different debate Thursday night after testing positive for COVID-19, also was not present Saturday.
The group was there for a forum conducted by the McHenry County Republican Party. In a series of presentations, local, state and national candidates from up and down the ballot were invited to answer questions alongside their primary opponents.
Those on stage Saturday evening discussed topics that included immigration, corruption, election integrity, property taxes and pensions and the state’s redistricting process.
It rained throughout, yet about 150 people stayed to watch the forum until its conclusion. And many, such as Daphnie Lattimore of McHenry County, said they were there to learn more about the candidates.
“I’m very conservative and I feel like our nation is falling by the wayside,” she said. “I need to hear what [the candidates] stand for.”
Irvin seemed to receive the most criticism from the other candidates. Bailey recently reiterated barbs directed at Irvin, calling him a “corrupt Democrat.” Solomon said any of the Republican candidates, minus Irvin, would make a good governor.
The candidates’ thoughts on immigration was discussed seemingly more than any other topic, covering almost half of the entire forum. Candidates expressed an interest in allowing counties to continue to detain immigrants in partnership with the Immigration Customs Enforcement agency, and also ending sanctuary cities.
McHenry County in particular had one such contract with ICE, until a state law required the county to release its detainees and cancel the agreement.
Bailey, Rabine and Solomon all expressed support in building a wall at the country’s southern border.
Property taxes were covered in a few different topics, as candidates pitched ways to both reduce the state’s debt while also lowering residents’ tax bills.
Rabine said the way to do it is to fix the state’s pensions, which was something others agreed with.
“When I talk about lowering property taxes, [creating sustainable pensions] is the only way to do it.”
Solomon called for constitutional pension reform, saying the state is “up to its eyeballs in debt.” He also called for a moratorium on property tax increases.
Schofield blamed the Illinois General Assembly for the public pensions being underfunded. She also called for property assessments only being done after selling a property, so people know what their property taxes will look like.
“We need to fully fund pensions and we need to balance our budget,” she said.
On the topic of elections, the candidates called for voter identification requirements and audits. Bailey encouraged people to become poll-watchers.
They all criticized the state’s redistricting process — one that occurs every 10 years to coincided with Census numbers — and called for a change to a process that was controlled by Democrats. All four said they support an independent commission to carry out the redistricting process to avoid gerrymandering.
“I am a victim of a gerrymandered district,” Schofield said. “It has to stop.”
Bailey, as he did a couple times throughout, said part of the problem was the “failed leadership” of previous Republican state leaders, who did not push through an independent commission when it was convenient for them to draw the maps.
“It’s time for the party who believes in freedom to stand up and set the right example,” Bailey said.
The forum Saturday was an all-day affair that featured Republican candidates from races for attorney general and secretary of state, several Illinois congressional races, McHenry County Board candidates, and the second district for the Illinois Supreme Court.
To pair with the discussions, candidates set up booths throughout the farm that offered a chance for people to speak face-to-face and learn more about their campaigns. Food trucks were also available.
Deena Krieger, one of the organizers, said she was happy with the turnout given the rainy weather, which she estimates saw between 600 and 700 people come out in total throughout the day.
“I thought residents got their questions answered and got to see them face-to-face,” she said. “It wasn’t stuffy. It was genuine.”
Still, some in attendance were disappointed with how many candidates didn’t show. Dave Wagner, of McHenry, said he came out to see who he would support, but was disappointed when some forums were delayed or canceled due to a lack of candidates.
“It picked up throughout the day,” he said. “I came here to hear everyone’s thoughts on a lot of issues.”