DeKALB – A group of Republican lawmakers Wednesday night gave voters a taste of some issues GOP candidates might highlight on the campaign trail heading into next year’s election: law enforcement, Illinois’ census numbers and Gov. JB Pritzker’s handling of the pandemic.
Republican state Sens. Dave Syverson, of Cherry Valley; Craig Wilcox of McHenry; and Sue Rezin, of Morris; attended a town hall event at Faranda’s Banquet Hall in DeKalb, where they addressed a wide range of topics.
The three senators gave a presentation during the meeting that touched on a number of Republican talking points including police reform, the decennial redrawing of lawmakers’ district boundary maps – which they contend were overly partisan and are being challenged in court – and the ongoing backlog of Firearm Owners Identification cards and concealed carry license renewals.
They also reiterated the GOP position that Pritzker overreached with his use of executive orders during the pandemic. The lawmakers also touched unemployment fraud and Illinois’ loss of residents to other states.
According to U.S. Census data released earlier this year, Illinois’ population fell from 12,830,632 people to 12,812,508 between 2010 and 2020. It was one of only three states to lose population during the last decade.
Still, the lawmakers discussed law enforcement at length and referenced the sweeping legislation pertaining to police that the Illinois General Assembly passed and Pritzker signed into law. Syverson said the theme of that legislation overall was “demonizing law enforcement and giving criminals the over-benefit of the doubt.”
Legislation that became law earlier this year, among other things, included an end to cash bail, a requirement for body cameras for all officers and an aim to establish use-of-force standards statewide.
The lawmakers were later asked during a question-and-answer session, “What can we do to keep our streets safe?” Syverson said, “Empower law enforcement to do the right thing; empower states attorneys to do the right thing.”
“We have to hold people accountable for the crimes that they’re committing, to excuse that just sends the wrong message,” he said. “This is fixable. ... How do we make it safer? Talk to law enforcement. Also, maybe hold parents accountable.”
Wilcox answered that personal accountability and personal responsibility will make communities safer.
“We have to provide that to our law enforcement, not just telling them they can do their job, but we need to provide that daily, in our daily lives,” he said.
Rezin said that safety will be a pivotal issue in the next election.
“And because of it, hopefully the pendulum will swing back so we can give back some authority to our law enforcement,” she said. “Granted, there are bad actors in law enforcement, and we need to weed them out, and we need more training for law enforcement. There are ways to do it, and we do it with our law enforcement, and not to spite our law enforcement.”