Campaigns heat up as election day edges closer in Rockford. One of the big ones in our area is the 34th District Senate race.
The seat is without an incumbent but the candidates Frank Gambino and Steve Stadelman are two well-known names in the Rockford area.
Stadelman, a Democrat is also a political newcomer. But he is a familiar face to many because he spent more than two decades as a TV news anchor.
"I reported on issues in this community for 25 years and I think through that experience I developed a deep understanding of the issues and potential solutions this community faces," says Stadelman.
Republican Frank Gambino is a Winnebago County Board member and longtime business owner in the Rockford area.
"I'm a realtor and homebuilder by trade, have been for the last 30 years here in town," says Gambino.
Both candidates are upset by the high property taxes in the area but do not know how to fix it. Gambino says he would like to see something like a sales tax, where everyone pays in, replace the property taxes to fund education.
"My position is this, I don't think there has been enough study to suggest the sales tax is the transition we should move towards. As I said it would be a difficult transition, it would be a more fair tax definitely because all those in the community would be participating," says Gambino.
"There has been attempts in the state legislature to increase the income tax and that would allow a reduction in local property taxes but that failed that has not gathered much support. I'm not sure of a specific proposal but those efforts need to continue," says Stadelman.
Stadelman wants lawmakers less involved in pension reform and the workers to take a bigger role fixing it.
"What I want to see is a negotiated solution. All parties at the table, everybody at the table all trying to come up with a solution that works best for everybody. If it is not negotiated. If it not negotiated any pension reform will be taken to court. And it will be dragged in court for years and any potential cost saying the state will not see for years," says Stadelman.
While Gambino wants to move to a privatized system for new workers. He also says pension payment should not be decided on the salary of the last few years a person works.
"People are moving up taking huge increases in pay to increase their pension obligation on the tax payer. I think we need to spread that out over a long period of term for current pension people. There many things we can do in regards to pension reform without eliminating the pension," says Gambino.
To repair the Rockford's high unemployment rate...
"We need to make sure we have qualified workers in this area. Employers won't come here if they can find workers who can do the job and the types of jobs we need to attract in this community that begins by enhancing our public education system," says Stadelman.
"Have a consistent plan, create an environment where regulation, taxation, fees is a little more businesses friendly, we'll start to see the job creation," says Gambino.
Voters decide who is the best candidate for Winnebago County and the 34th District on November 6.
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