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State Election

90th House district candidates discuss unemployment, income tax

State congressional hopeful Tom Demmer is facing Democratic challenger Thomas Boken, Jr. after beating three GOP candidates in the primary.

The Illinois 90th House district was up for grabs after state Rep. Jerry Mitchell decided against seeking re-election. The western part of DeKalb County sits in the new 90th district.

Demmer said he believes he has the necessary experience from the public and private sector to succeed as a state representative. Demmer is a member of the Lee County Board and is the director of marketing and planning at Katherine Shaw Bethea Hospital in Dixon.

Boken did not answer requests for an interview. According to his biography and his website, he lives in DeKalb and is studying and working at Northern Illinois University.

Demmer said his main focus, if elected, is turning around the state’s unemployment.

“[Unemployment] puts a lot of stress on individuals, puts a lot of stress on families, and you put a burden on communities,” Demmer said.

He said the state has the necessary ingredients for a strong economy, but “what’s holding us back is state government.” Demmer said he supports repealing the 67 percent tax increase the Illinois General Assembly passed in January 2011.

On his website, Boken said he supported instituting a graduated income tax.

A number of candidates across the state have sworn to not accept a legislator’s pension if elected to the state legislature. Demmer has not made this pledge, but he’s not trying to “score a pension.”

“I’m running for office, because I believe I have a contribution to the discussion,” Demmer said. Demmer added that the state’s massive unfunded pension liability is not going away without action.

Boken does not list his stance on pension reform on his website. He said he supports expanding the number of casinos in the state and is opposed to “Right to Work” laws.

The race between Demmer and Boken is the only contested race for state representative DeKalb County voters can weigh in on. State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, state Sen. Tim Bivins, R-Dixon, and state Rep. Robert Pritchard, R-Hinckley, are on the ballot, but have no opponents.

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