Election 2024: Illinois House 76th District candidates list their campaign priorities

Election 2024
A voter casts his ballot on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, at the polling place in Westminster Presbyterian Church in DeKalb.

Editor’s note: The following remarks from all five candidates running for Illinois’ 76th House District were pulled from each of the candidates’ corresponding Shaw Local News Network questionnaires. Candidates’ responses have been pulled in full and are not edited for length. To read each candidate’s full questionnaire, visit shawlocal.com/daily-chronicle/election.

The following responses were provided by each of the candidates to the question, “What are the top issues facing your district and what would you like to do to address those issues?”

Candidates’ responses are listed in alphabetical order.

Cohen Barnes, Democrat

“Because this district is geographically so distant, I think there are different needs. But we have many similarities. Economic Development, Quality of Life, and Fiscal Responsibility are key components to bringing good healthcare, public safety, and investment in our infrastructure. These are many of the same things I have focused on with great success as Mayor of the City of DeKalb.”

Amy “Murri” Briel, Democrat

“Infrastructure, both capital and human, is the most pressing issue facing the district. When I speak of infrastructure, it must include basic essentials such as adequate affordable power, broadband, and cellular service but also infrastructure we don’t often think of such as the effects of climate change on our rivers and the impact that has on our farmers. It must include issues facing towns like Oglesby desperately working with antiquated and unhealthy wastewater treatment. It means expanding the resources that the state currently provides to our area in childcare, elder care, mental health resources. Having worked across the district with small businesses, corporations, farmers, manufacturers, counties, state agency employees, educators from pre-K to post secondary — the issues are similar.”

Carolyn “Morris” Zasada, Democrat

“Our district is very diverse, but fundamentally we want the same things. I’ve knocked on more than five thousand doors this cycle, and people bring up a range of important issues, but some come up repeatedly.

Most importantly, I think the top issue facing women everywhere, including our district, are attacks on our rights. I hear people argue that an abortion ban would never happen in Illinois. But that’s simply not true. Make no mistake, if Republicans ever take control of our government, they will ban abortion. And I simply won’t stand for that. I will never make a deal or work with Republicans in any way to ban abortion. I will be their fiercest opponent. I will also work to pass a constitutional amendment that enshrines abortion as a right that no government can take away.

I discuss inadequate access to medical care in a different question so I will not repeat myself, but I want to highlight that it is absolutely among the top issues we face and it will be my top priority to secure better medical care for our community. We face far too high a tax burden. I would like to reform our tax code to enact a progressive tax system that would reduce taxes on the middle and lower class while increasing revenues.

I also think our district needs more quality, “living wage” jobs, especially in the southern part of the district. We must bolster higher education in Illinois so our workers have the skills they need to fulfill the needs of prospective businesses who would bring quality jobs. In the past decade, college enrollment has consistently declined due to high public school tuition rates. This has been brought about by reductions in state funding for public schools. In 2003, State funding made up 72% of public university funding, the rest coming from tuition and fees. Now, that number has almost flipped. We need to increase state funding of public schools, including four year, two year, and trade schools. All of those school options would give workers new skills that would help build a stronger workforce. Funding state schools would lower tuition rates, allowing more people to access college.”

Liz Bishop, Republican

“The 76th District’s top issue is the same throughout the state: the ever-increasing cost of living in Illinois. High taxes and increased government red tape drive people to leave the state. Illinois is losing young families who struggle to put food on the table and retirees whose retirement savings are not adequate to pay the bills. It is well past time to eliminate unnecessary spending from the state budget so Illinois becomes an affordable place to live. This will require creativity and a willingness to work across the aisle to get the results taxpayers deserve.

I will fight for affordable, accessible healthcare. The recent closings of two hospitals in our district have taught us some very hard lessons. I will support legislation to address healthcare disparities, and I will fight to ensure our community’s healthcare needs are met.

In addition, Illinoisans need to be able to afford our power bills. As Democrats continue to force the closure of energy generating facilities, we have to address potential energy shortages. With the recent bipartisan legislation to lift the ban on the construction of nuclear power plants, we have an opportunity to bring in affordable energy and good paying jobs.”

Crystal Loughran, Republican

“TAXES: Illinois has a flat tax of 4.95% ( individual income tax rate) 9.50 corporate tax rate. State sales tax rate is: 6.25. Under Pritzker Illinoians are paying $2,165 more in taxes. We need to prevent any progressive taxes. We need to trim our budget of needless spending to prevent the raising of taxes. We need common sense spending. My plan includes cutting taxes including the senior real estate tax that’s excessive.

UNIONS: 12.5 billion dollars in residential and non residential construction. There is a cut in Union work because manufacturing, capital projects and building have been cut due to the economy. There is no money to build homes or produce goods. Manufacturing has fled to China and Mexico because of wages. We need to rebuild our economy. Currently we pay $50,000 more just in lumber costs. We need to reinvest in infrastructure and building. When you do that manufacturing follows. We need to make more in America and Illinois, attracting industry with incentives to invest in Illinois.

PENSIONS: 26% of the Illinois budgets take up the Illinois budgets for taxes. Illinois is facing a pending pension collapse with some public pensions funded at only 20% Most Unions invest in hedge funds If the economy and the markets suffer so will Union investment returns. The standard return rate is 6%. We need to cut off nepotism and cronyism in government. For far too long Illinois politicians hand out pensions for political favors including themselves. We need to reduce the government and restructure the public pensions. Pensioners deserve protected pensions. Not to have their union funds treated as a loan bank with no returns.”