QUINCY -- The two candidates vying to represent the 94th District in the Illinois House of Representatives met Tuesday night to discuss their beliefs in a candidates forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Adams County.
Incumbent Randy Frese, R-Paloma, and challenger Rich Cramsey, D-Clayton, differed on few talking points during the forum at First Christian Church. Fielding questions from a three-person panel comprised of The Herald-Whig's Doug Wilson, Quincify's Kelly Wilson and Quincy University's Nora Baldner, the two candidates both voiced their support for term limits, the need to expand access to broadband internet in rural areas and the importance of improving Illinois' weakened bond rating.
"We hope the people who attend learn more about their candidates, and the candidates have the opportunity to represent themselves and to learn more about their constituents," said Mary Ann Klein, president of the League of Women Voters of Adams County. "It's a two-way street."
Frese said he opposes Illinois adopting a graduated income tax. When the Legislature voted on a non-binding resolution on the issue, Frese voted against it.
"How can I vote for a bill if I don't know the exact numbers?" Frese said. "I think the purpose is to increase the amount of dollars the Legislature can take out of the pockets of private citizens."
Cramsey said he thinks the graduated income tax is something that "needs to be looked into."
"I'm willing to put everything on the table," he said, "but we need to strike a balance."
Both agreed that infrastructure spending is needed, citing decaying roads across the region.
Highways Ill. 57 south of Quincy, U.S. 34 through Henderson and Warren counties, and the Macomb bypass were all pitched as potentially dangerous stretches needing immediate improvement.
Frese opposes raising the minimum wage to $15, saying the choice should be determined by the free market. Cramsey similarly said he does not believe government should tell an employer how much to pay employees.
In his closing remarks, Cramsey stressed that the 94th District should have just as much of a say in Illinois as the Chicago collar counties. If elected, he said, "If I'm not doing the job, vote me out."
As almost every question focused on some negative aspect of the way in which Illinois is run, Frese tried to leave the audience with a more positive look ahead.
"I've built relationships in the House and the Senate, and you don't do that overnight," he said. "I'm looking forward to putting those relationships to good use."