The Daily Illini

Ammons and Rosenberg debate at candiate forum

By Eleanor Black

In the third and final candidate forum, held Friday night at the Champaign City Council Chambers, two democratic candidates for the 103rd district’s House seat, Carol Ammons and Sam Rosenberg, answered questions posed by members of the community.

The candidates described their government experience and explained how it has prepared them to represent the 103rd district in Springfield. Rosenberg referenced his role in the Dan Hynes gubernatorial campaign and his time spent as an assistant state’s attorney with Julia Rietz, the Champaign county state’s attorney. He said that this role put him “on the front lines of making sure that the laws that are passed in Springfield are the laws of the land.”

Ammons cited her six years of public service – four and a half years on the Champaign County Board, and her current role on the Urbana City Council – as examples of her experience. She said that as an elected official, she has worked on ordinances, policies and non-profit grants that provided funding for low income families in the community.

“We need an elected official who has elected official experience,” she said. “I come to the table with that and I’m ready to run, and I’m ready to serve immediately upon election.”

Regarding their priorities, Ammons focused on passing a graduated income tax, environmental issues and regulations and drug policy reform. To make changes regarding these issues, Ammons said communities across the state should be educated regarding the benefits of a graduated income tax, and more work needs to be done on the environmental regulations the state currently has – on fracking, for example – and drug policy reform and sentencing reform.

Rosenberg listed his top three priorities as jobs, increased education funding and his opposition of Senate Bill 1, the state’s recent pension reform legislation. He said the 103rd district, as well as the state of Illinois, needs to be more proactive in recruiting and creating jobs. Regarding pensions, Rosenberg said that the rights of retirees is a major concern, as well as the constitutionality of the bill that was passed.
 
“My question is, if a teacher signs a contract on day one that may not be valid on day two, or day three, or year 10, or year 30 – what kind of people are we going to be recruiting into true public service?” he said. “That’s a bigger issue with pension reform, the true validity of a state contract.”

Both candidates supported term limits, the Illinois Trust Act, raising the minimum wage, reproductive rights and the labeling of genetically modified foods. They also talked about infrastructure improvements, with both mentioning the possibility of a high speed rail in Champaign County.

An especially important issue was their support for a graduated income tax, or the Fair Tax Amendment, which current Rep. Jakobsson, D-103, has sponsored. Ammons said that the state needs “a system of taxation that has fairness at its base” because the current taxation policy taxes lower income families and individuals at a higher rate than a graduated income tax would.

In addition to supporting the amendment, Rosenberg said he is in favor of making Illinois’ temporary income take permanent hikes to help stabilize the state’s deficit. The two also opposed the state’s recent pension reform, with Rosenberg citing other states as examples – Arizona recently struck down a pension reform bill that “was very much similar to what is happening here in Illinois.”

The candidates did disagree regarding corporate tax breaks. Ammons said that she did not support the corporate tax cut as proposed by House Speaker Michael Madigan, which would cut the state’s tax rate in half.

Rosenberg said that he supports such cuts, as long as they are done in conjunction with the implementation of a progressive income tax and “that it is, at the very least, increasing the revenue by a small margin in the state.”

In their closing remarks, both Ammons and Rosenberg stated the role of a representative to be an ambassador for their community and its causes. The two will face off for the democratic nomination in the March 18 primary election.

Eleanor can be reached at [email protected]

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