There is a contested race for the 70th District state representative seat for the first time in a decade this fall in the wake of former Rep. Bob Pritchard's retirement from the state House of Representatives.
State Rep. Jeff Keicher, 45, a Sycamore insurance agent, was appointed to the seat in July after Pritchard resigned to join the Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees. Keicher says he opposes a plan for a graduated income tax in Illinois becasue over time the top bracket will expand to increase taxes on citizens with lower and lower incomes.
He says that reducing bureaucratic red tape to create a more business-friendly state is essential, as is the repeal of unfunded mandates from Springfield that reduce the efficiency of local government, especially public schools. A non-partisan system of drawing legislative boundaries and giving more control to local governments over how to tax and spend are among his other important stances.
Keicher has considerably less legislative experience than his opponent, Democrat Paul Stoddard, 62, of DeKalb. Stoddard is a recently retired NIU geology professor who has represented District 9 on the DeKalb County Board since 2007.
During his time on the County Board, Stoddard has supported measures designed to foster bipartisanship and cooperation, including allowing members of the minority party to chair some committees and backing a non-partisan system for drawing district maps. He supports a switch to a graduated tax as necessary if the state is to reduce the property tax burden. By his reckoning, those who earn more than $150,000 a year would pay a higher rate of tax on income that exceeds that level.
Stoddard says he opposes term limits for legislators in general, but supports them for leadership positions. He says that legislative leaders probably should not be allowed to be state party leaders as well – House Speaker Michael Madigan is also chairman of the state Democratic Party.
Speaking of Madigan, it is his influence that tips the scales. Keicher pledges to oppose the Madigan agenda, while Stoddard's talk about being willing to make unpopular decisions in office suggest to us that he would fall in line with tax hikes or other parts of the Chicago Democrats’ agenda when pressed.
Madigan and the Chicago Democratic machine wield enough power. Keicher is endorsed.