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Republican Tom Demmer, of Dixon, is seeking his fifth term as state representative in the 90th District and is challenged by political newcomer Democrat Seth Wiggins, a Dixon veteran and Rock Falls attorney.
Demmer's focus is on rebuilding trust in state government in part by passing an ethics reform package, with an emphasis on prohibiting legislators from serving as lobbyists, among other measures. As the House GOP Caucus lead on health care, Demmer said he plans to introduce and pass another comprehensive medicaid omnibus bill that will build on previous policies that increased health care accessibility and affordability, and allocated funding for juvenile behavioral health care.
Wiggins, a US Air Force veteran who describes himself as a "Democrat raised by Republicans," has three campaign pillars, with the first being service, which entails an admirable jobs-based plan aimed to reduce student debt, a bridge income initiative and working with businesses and trade schools to train individuals who have little education or experience.
The remaining pillars include accessibility to adequate and affordable health care and quality education, and equality – Wiggins is a transgender man and noted he could give additional representation to those in the LGBTQ community.
Wiggins said his idea of economic freedom is not deregulating industry or giving tax breaks to big business, but instead investing in people by making sure people have the opportunities to be gainfully employed through quality education and accessible health care.
However, Demmer's track record of working with both Democrats and Republicans, bringing jobs to the area and an emphasis on repairing distrust in state government give him a leg up.
When it comes to jobs creation, Demmer can point to the passage of the bipartisan capital bill approved last year that created pro-business reforms that laid the groundwork for Facebook bringing an $800 million data center to DeKalb, and bringing 100 high-paying date-center jobs and an estimated 1,200 construction jobs to the district.
Demmer, the Deputy House Republican Leader, has demonstrated an ability to work across the aisle on issues, and in 2016, was named co-chairman of the Illinois Future Caucus, "a bipartisan group of young leaders who believe that cooperation, not conflict, should be the dominant political paradigm, and who are committed to working together to address the challenges facing the next generation of Illinoisans."
He's also having the necessary conversations with constituents and policymakers in regard to the announced closing of the Exelon plants, including the Byron plant, to help prevent the loss of thousands of jobs in his district and throughout the state, as well as millions in tax dollars flowing into communities. He emphasized reaching out across party lines, soliciting and discussing solutions and suggestions to secure bipartisan support.
Demmer has a realistic view of residents' distrust in government, and opposes the proposed graduated tax proposal, noting lawmakers already don't practice enough fiscal discipline and have not made good on obligations. "The temptation is too great," he said, referring to the ability to increase the tax rates in various tax brackets. "We need to show we're good fiscal stewards."
Demmer is endorsed.