Educator challenges incumbent in 38th Senate contest
BY ERIKA WURST email@example.com November 4, 2012 2:26PM
Previous elected office: Illinois House of Representatives; appointed in December 2010 to the Illinois Senate 38th District.
Campaign site: www.suerezin.com
Previous elected office: None
Updated: December 6, 2012 6:08AM
A former school superintendent faces an incumbent appointed two years ago in the Illinois Senate 38th District election Tuesday.
Republican incumbent Sen. Sue Rezin of Morris is being challenged by first-time Democratic candidate Christine Benson of Ottawa in the district, which includes much of southern Kendall County.
While Benson has no previous political experience, she is confident that she has what it takes to be a leader. She looks to her career in education and as a superintendent in the Streator Elementary School District as a springboard, and plans to focus on job creation and retraining.
Having served as a school superintendent for 18 years, Benson said she understands the importance of education and what it means to the economic forecast of Illinois.
“It is projected that by 2018, 64 percent of Illinois’ jobs will require some form of post-secondary training beyond high school,” she said. “Currently in Illinois we have two million working adults with only a high school education.”
That, she said, must change.
“Parts of the 38th District have the highest unemployment rates in Illinois,” she said. “As a member of the Senate, I would add my voice to work in tandem with the Chambers of Commerce, mayors and other pertinent parties to build a team of broad resources and connections to market the area’s resources as aggressively as possible.”
Benson also points to her experience as a superintendent and working with contracts as a benefit to her constituents.
“I understand how budgets and pensions work together,” she said. “Before you can even talk about the budget, the state must address pensions.”
She said the state must look at a number of areas for improvement: duplicative costs, streamlining, consolidating, reinventing, and getting rid of political boundaries.
“We need to look at other options before we continue to ask hard-working families to set aside more money,” she said.
Reducing legislative salaries and benefits are a place to start, she said. The elimination of boards and commissions that are no longer currently active, but still receiving funds, should also be implemented.
“We need to consolidate government office buildings and services,” she said. “Like all businesses and households are doing during these tough economic time,” the state must consolidate as much as possible.
For Rezin, who as a small business owner became disappointed with the direction of the state and decided to run for office, repealing the state’s massive tax increase is the major issue on Illinois’ plate.
“I will continue to fight to repeal the Democrat’s lame duck tax increase, which has resulted in Illinois losing tens of thousands of jobs,” the incumbent Republican said.
“Due to the tax increase, businesses and citizens are leaving Illinois at an alarming rate. We must repeal the tax increase and enact real spending reform in Springfield.
Rezin said she believes that Illinois can balance its budget without new taxes.
“Tax policy needs to be associated with job creation,” she said. “...Because Illinois has a spending problem, a progressive tax will ultimately affect the middle-class. Small business and middle-class workers should be the beneficiaries of Illinois enacting broad-based tax reforms.”
Rezin said that the fact that Illinois has been downgraded by Moody’s 11 times in the last 10 years should be a wake-up call.
“We must stop borrowing because that is not a solution to getting out of debt,” she said.
After being appointed to the 38th District seat in December 2010, Rezin was named to the Unemployment Insurance Task Force to identify and recommend policy alternatives to address the debt plaguing the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund.
She is also a member of the Governor’s Pension Reform Working group, a bipartisan effort consisting of representatives from the governor’s office and the four caucuses.
“The goal is to produce a plan that will stabilize the pension system,” she said.
Rezin has also been a proponent of the education reform legislation passed by the Illinois Senate earlier this year that she said will advance much-needed improvements in Illinois schools, while saving taxpayers’ money.