Candidates for State Offices Square Off in Debates

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Several candidates for local and state offices spoke at a League of Women Voters of Naperville debate night, drawing a large crowd to North Central College’s Ratio Hall.

The first debate was between Republican incumbent Michael Connelly and Democratic challenger Laura Ellma for Illinois’ 21st Senate District seat.

If elected, Connelly says his number one priority will be addressing Chicago’s TIF districts.

“Chicago diverts up to $800 million, maybe even this year one billion dollars in tax revenue that would otherwise go to Chicago public schools,” said Connelly.

Ellman says her biggest priority would be reducing property taxes.

“We need to reduce taxes on our middle class and on our homeowners and fund education to attract young families and also businesses to Illinois,” she explained.

Grant Wehrli, Republican incumbent for Illinois’ House of Representatives District 41 says he wants to make sure Illinois stays on a long-term financial plan.

“’Things are looking better and we don’t really need to do that anymore’ and we start to sway away from our fiscal plan,” cautioned Wehrli. “We need people down there who will instill fiscal discipline in Illinois. I consider myself one of those people.”

His opponent, democratic challenger Val Montgomery, did not attend the forum amid controversy in which it was discovered she’s not actually a resident of the 41st District, even though information from the DuPage Election Commission initially indicated she was.

To close the night, Jason Helland, Republican challenger for the Illinois Secretary of State, spoke about his priority of bringing down the office’s budget.

“We were talking about everything I’d cut out of the budget, and you have to cut it by 10 percent. I’d cut it by cutting wasteful expenditures and also automation,” said Helland.

He’s challenging Democratic incumbent Jesse White, who has served as IL Secretary of State since 1998 and is running for a sixth term. White did not attend the debates.

Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.