Election 2024: Meet the 5 who want Lance Yednock’s seat in Illinois House

Two Republicans, 3 Democrats in contention

Candidates for the 76th District (from left) Murri Briel, Crystal Loughran, Carolyn Zasada, Liz Bishop and Cohen Barnes attend a candidate forum on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024 at Illinois Valley Community College in Oglesby.

All five vying for state representative of the 76th District pledge to make life easier for taxpayers, uphold the state’s pension obligation and be civil with those on the other side of the aisle.

But the five seeking to replace state Rep. Lance Yednock, D-Ottawa, who opted not to seek reelection, come from different walks of life.

At a candidates forum Wednesday at Illinois Valley Community College, some expressed divergent views on how to alleviate the tax burden on Illinois residents.

Crystal Loughran and Liz Bishop are vying for the Republican nomination, and both are political newcomers who trumpet their allegiances to constituents rather than special interests.

On the Democratic ballot are a Yednock aide and two elected officials. Amy “Murri” Briel worked for Yednock and has his endorsement. Cohen Barnes is DeKalb’s mayor, and Carolyn Zasada is a member of the DeKalb City Council.

The 76th District covers La Salle, Bureau and DeKalb counties, including Ottawa, La Salle, Peru, DeKalb, Spring Valley and Ladd.

Here are snapshots of the candidates, listed in alphabetical order, and key points from their platforms.

Amy ‘Murri’ Briel

What to know: Democrat, chief of staff to Yednock, married, mother of three

Key points:

Supports current pension reforms aimed at “chipping away” at funding shortfall, coupled with spending controls

Wants to incentivize large employers to meet the child care shortage by providing in-house day care or pay a fee to fund off-site care

Proposes empowering the Office of the State Fire Marshal to more closely monitor hazardous materials compliance to streamline responses to events such as the Carus explosion

Quote: “For the last year and a half, I have worked in every part of this district. It’s a very large and very diverse area. I have had the pleasure of working with people in every part of this district.”

Cohen Barnes

What to know: Democrat, mayor of DeKalb, entrepreneur, U.S. Army veteran

Key points:

Not opposed to the SAFE-T Act in principle – “Was it perfect? No” – insofar as it addressed the marginalized

Cites experience in driving economic development and lowering taxes in DeKalb

Gun owner and enthusiast who supports responsible ownership but wants to keep firearms “out of the wrong hands”

Quote: “Mayor is a nonpartisan election. I was elected by the people – everybody – which means I have to represent everyone in the city of DeKalb.”

Liz Bishop

What to know: Republican newcomer, La Salle resident, lengthy record in art and education, experience in banking and finance

Key points:

Cites her civic work with officials from both parties and to promote civility

Seeks tax reform to alleviate burdens on family farms

Endorsed by Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, and enjoyed a working relationship with Yednock

Quote: “I believe our state and this nation are at a crossroads. The current majority have given us policies we cannot accept. The residents of this district deserve honest, effective, commonsense representation in Springfield.”

Crystal Loughran

What to know: Republican, educator, Peru resident

Key points:

Supports pension reform in part by opposing pensions to short-term and part-time workers and ferreting out nepotism

Pro Second Amendment, pro life

Supports term limits and pledged to serve no more than three terms in office

Quote: “I’m not a politician. I’m a grassroots conservative.”

Carolyn Zasada

What to know: Democrat, real estate agent, U.S. Marine Corps veteran, five years of service on the DeKalb City Council

Key points:

Favors a “fair tax” capping income taxes at 4.95% for incomes less than $250,000, which would generate $3.4 billion

Seeks better coordination with welcome centers to provide emergency shelter for migrants and asylum-seekers

Proposes bureaucratic reforms to facilitate mental health care services and attract care workers

Quote: “I believe I’m the most strongly progressive candidate.”

Candidates for the 76th District (from left) Murri Briel, Crystal Loughran, Carolyn Zasada, Liz Bishop and Cohen Barnes attend a candidate forum on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024 at Illinois Valley Community College in Oglesby.
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