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Elections 2012: Illinois’ 9th District Senate Race Focus On Pension Reform

Both candidates seeking the 9th District state Senate seat agree change is necessary in the Illinois Legislature if the state is going to get out of its economic crisis. The candidates have presented contrasting perspectives, however, on how to execute the necessary changes.

“There is financial corruption going on down in Springfield,” said Glenn Farkas, the Republican candidate and president of Avista Wealth Management, an independent investment company.

One of the main issues raised by both candidates is pension reform.

Democrats have been in complete control for long enough to have made a change in pensions, Farkas said. No one solution is going to work, he said.

Farkas said all Illinois incumbents should be voted out so the Legislature can start with a clean slate. Farkas’ supporters are confident the state’s pensions system could be brought under control if more Republicans are elected into Legislature.

Farkas’ Democratic rival, Daniel Biss, a former mathematics professor and the 17th District Illinois House incumbent, said it is the state’s responsibility to begin paying its fair share for pension funding because it hasn’t been contributing enough funds.

It is necessary to make the right long-term goals because the short-term goals that are being made in Illinois Legislature are not working, said Biss. A lot of painful decisions have been made over the years and more will need to be made in the future, he said.

“There are more problems than we think,” said Doug Wertheimer, a Skokie resident and supporter of Farkas.

“The people who need the most help lose [out],” said Kurt Fujio, a resident of the Chicago 49th ward and an Illinois Republican Party supporter.

Fugio said that the economic and budgeting issues are related to service and funding cuts, and that the Democrats created the mess.

One thing the Legislature needs to look at, said Biss, is where the most valuable places to spend are, who needs the most help, and what programs will work best.

There are also residents who feel that it is important to consider staying the course with incumbents in all districts.

“Illinois doesn’t need a new agenda,” said Judy Garnett, an Evanston resident. We need to continue to make changes and move forward, she said.

Garnett said she is most concerned about Medicare and social security.

She and her husband have worked a combined total of 75 years in Illinois and are eligible for their pension benefits.

“I am happy to be entitled to our benefits,” Garnett said. “I’m not going to give up.”

Farkas, on the other hand, said the private sector needs to be embraced. Retirement age for full benefits needs to be raised to 67 so public and private sector workers have equal pension agreements, he said. The current retirement age for public sector workers is between 55-60 years.

No new taxes should be introduced, he said, because Illinois government should not be given any more money until they can prove they can spend it wisely.

The Legislature has not been spending money wisely, Farkas said, hence the economical corruption.

“The problem of pension funding will continue into the future if action is not taken to make the state pay,” Biss said. “The government needs to restrain pension costs so they don’t continue to rise,” he said, adding that all pensions need to be protected and all people need to be respected.

“Daniel is a very respected pension reformer,” said Elizabeth Tisdahl, mayor of Evanston. “He has the respect of the Illinois legislature.”

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