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Local

Kirk says experience makes him choice for senator

DeKALB – Congressman Mark Kirk said his political experience makes him the best candidate in a crowded field of Illinois Republicans seeking the party's nomination for U.S. Senate.

Kirk, of Highland Park, has represented Illinois' 10th Congressional District, which includes the suburbs north of Chicago, since 2001. He is a Naval Reserve intelligence officer who holds the rank of commander and has served during conflicts with Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti and Bosnia. He has worked for the World Bank, the State Department and on the staff of his predecessor, Congressman John Porter.

State residents are ready for a different type of senator, he said, noting that sitting Democratic U.S. Sen. Roland Burris was appointed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is now facing federal charges.

"It's time to make a shift to a candidate from a different political upbringing," he said Friday during a meeting with the Daily Chronicle's Editorial Board. "I think the state is ready for a new type of leadership."

If elected, Kirk said he would focus on fiscal reform in order to bring the country's finances in line. It takes time and homework to find where cuts can be made, he said.

But he, for instance, noted in the initial version of the recently passed federal stimulus plan that $200 million had been set aside for improvements to the National Mall. By calling the federal Park Services Department he said he learned that the government had received 17,000 objections to the three proposed plans for changes to the mall and that the project was not going forward.

That money was taken out, he added.

Other interests would be job creation and building of infrastructure. He would advocate for Illinois having slightly lower taxes than its competitors in order to draw new businesses to the state, which he believes is a railroad hub that many organizations would want to take advantage of.

He also vowed to learn about issues, such as agriculture, that he doesn't know as much about because his Congressional district is primarily suburban.

Other Republicans who have declared their intent to run or expressed interest in the same office include former Harvey alderman John Arrington, retired downstate judge Don Lowery, Chicago attorney Andy Martin, entrepreneur and minister Eric Wallace, McHenry County Board vice president Ed Varga and Rockford businessman Robert Zadek.

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