Holmes, Hurtado knock on doors, each other in 42nd Senate race
By Jenette Sturges For The Beacon-News October 26, 2012 2:44PM

In the race for Illinois’ 42nd Senate District seat, the competition appears to be a race to the doorbell. Both incumbent Democrat Sen. Linda Holmes and Republican Peter Hurtado boast about the numbers of neighborhoods they’ve walked and doors they’ve knocked on — roughly 4,000 and 3,000, respectively — talking to residents about their concerns for the state and for the 42nd District, newly redrawn to keep the city of Aurora contained within a single district. But the literature each candidates passes out at those doors has Holmes all over it. Hurtado has spent a lot of time this campaign attacking Holmes and the voting record she has amassed since taking office in 2009. Among her votes, he decries the income tax increase and Medicaid cuts, which Holmes defends as a matter of balancing the state’s budget woes.

On other items, however, Holmes says Hurtado is just plain wrong. While Hurtado’s literature claims, for instance, that Holmes has voted to raise her own salary three times, Holmes says that is entirely inaccurate. “We actually have taken furlough days for I don’t know how many years, and we have not given ourselves raises,” she said, referring most recently to SB 3188, which mandated one furlough day a month and prohibited a cost of living adjustment for legislators — a measure which she supported. Holmes said she does not remember her vote on the matter in her first year in office, but said, “We have not recently given ourselves raises, in fact, we have actually cut our pay.”

Hurtado mostly blasts Holmes for her support of the state income tax increase — from 3 percent to 5 percent last year. He said that his first task in office will be to repeal the increase, which is set to roll back in January 2015. “I’ve got a piece of land for you if you believe that’s going to sunset,” said Hurtado. “It’s not going to sunset, they’re going to make it permanent and add on to it.” Holmes, however, said that while she stands by her decision to approve temporarily raising the income tax to pay Illinois’ backlog of bills to social service agencies, she will not vote to make the tax hike permanent. “I refuse to do that,” said Holmes. “I’m not going to vote to extend the increase. We had to do it to get our fiscal house in order. We fully funded pensions, paid down a few million on our backlog of bills. “If my opponent wants to whack me on Medicaid cuts, without the tax increase they would have been catastrophic. The developmentally disabled, handicapped, the elderly, education would have been the most severely affected, and we were not willing as a state to let the most vulnerable suffer. I don’t think we had a choice.”

Holmes’ jobs plan involves fostering an atmosphere for job creation, including offering incentives for businesses to hire. “We’ve done some things with veterans, offering incentives to employers to hire them, because we want to make sure that after men and women who offer their lives for our country come back, that they can find a job and make a living,” she said. She also said that reducing red tape for business owners and entrepreneurs can both create a more business friendly environment and cut costs for the state by making government agencies more efficient. “I ran a small business for 20 years, and it can be difficult for a small business to navigate all that because they don’t necessarily have an attorney on staff to go through all the paperwork,” Holmes said. “We need to simplify that process, create one-stop shopping. We need to do a lot of streamlining.” Repealing the state income tax is the centerpiece of Hurtado’s plan to create more jobs. “By reducing the taxes, that’s going to create more jobs,” Hurtado said. “By fixing workers comp, that’s going to create more jobs. There are way too many regulations right now. That makes it way too hard for businesses to establish themselves here in Illinois.” Illinois’ current handbook states that “the law covers injuries that are caused, in whole or in part, by the employee’s work.” Hurtado argues that workers compensation laws as they stand allow workers to claim benefits from injuries that do not occur on the job, making workers compensation three times more expensive for employers in Illinois than in Indiana or in Texas, where workers compensation insurance is not mandatory for employers. Minority issues Meanwhile, being Latino in a district focused on Aurora could prove to Hurtado’s advantage — Hurtado immigrated to the U.S. from Peru 33 years ago “chasing my American dream, and I think I have achieved it.” But Holmes is a long-time resident of Aurora. This summer she offered to be “locked up” and beg for bail money to support Family Focus’ building campaign, and she said she often turns to the organization for insight on matters affecting the Latino community. Holmes also said one of her goals for her next term is to assemble an advisory board for Latino residents to voice their concerns.

Redrawn district
As the race ramps up, both candidates said they are scoping out real estate in downtown Aurora to house a new office. Holmes said she will move her office up from Plainfield, which is no longer a part of the 42nd Senate District. Hurtado, a Plainfield resident, said that not only does he plan to keep an office in downtown Aurora, he plans to move to Aurora, now that he no longer lives in the 42nd District after new maps were drawn. Of course, he’ll be on a tighter budget. In the district that heavily favors Democrats and with little support from his party, Hurtado has been funding much of his campaign from his own pocket and could be outspent 16 to 1, according to the latest quarterly filing from the Illinois State Board of Elections.

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