State Senate race heats up

With the November election just a month away, the local senate race is building steam. State Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) is facing his first challenger in 10 years.

Rockford Democrat Dan Lewandowski hopes to unseat Syverson Nov. 7. Among other things, Lewandowski is pushing for a $1 increase to the $6.50 an hour minimum wage.

“That isn’t enough to feed a family of four, much less provide adequate health care for their children,” Lewandowski said.

“That’s clearly where there’s a difference between us,” Syverson said, explaining that minimum wage jobs are not intended for raising families. “Our concentration ought to be: How do we create real living wage jobs? That’s $17.50 an hour, not $7.50 an hour.” Syverson stressed the importance of bringing manufacturing and logistics jobs to the area.

“Dave Syverson keeps promising jobs,” Lewandowski argued, “but every chance he has gotten in the past four years to vote on a capital bill that would have brought money for road and crucial infrastructure, he has voted against it.”

Syverson’s plan to bring new jobs is based on the idea of making the state more friendly toward business. He said the state loses more jobs to other states than to other countries.

“The reason is our state many times takes an anti-business philosophy, either by the way they tax, the way they regulate, the way they put fees on,” Syverson explained. “When a business has to compete nationally and internationally, they can’t have their hands tied by their own state.”

The 14-year senator added the economy will never grow if the state continues strongly taxing the businesses we’re trying to keep in Illinois.

Lewandowski is pushing for Gov. Blagojevich’s $3.2 billion capital bill, hoping to create new jobs, improve infrastructure and benefit education. He added: “I am fully in favor of removing the burden of school funding from homeowners and giving them much-needed property tax relief. The state needs to pay its fair share of local school funding.”

“As much as I’d like to go around and promise things to everybody, the reality is,” Syverson explained, “just like you and I have to live within our means, the state has to do the same thing.” The incumbent senator then cited a recent report showing Illinois is financially in the worst shape of any state. Reversing this trend is essential to bringing back business, according to the 34th District Republican.

Lewandowski, although a newcomer, could pose a real threat to Syverson’s seat in Springfield. He is backed by Senate President Emil Jones Jr., the 14th District Democrat from Chicago. Jones has been campaigning on Lewandowski’s behalf.

“He sees that our area hasn’t been getting its fair share over the past decade, and that is why he is so committed to helping my election with staff and funding,” Lewandowski said.

Despite his 14 years of fund-raising, Syverson asserted he doesn’t have the kind of state resources his challenger can access.

Both Rockford candidates have been hitting the pavement hard in search of votes and have conducted their own polls. Each argued their numbers look promising.

“At first, this was a ‘David vs. Goliath’ competition,” Lewandowski explained, “but people seem really receptive to change.”

Syverson, who ran a poll about two months ago, said despite his own high numbers, the only poll he’s concerned with is on Nov. 7.

He added, “Even though they obviously look good for me, I don’t take a whole lot of stock in that, knowing that I still have to get out there and earn every vote.”

Neither candidate gave any specific numbers generated by their polling.

From the Oct. 4-10, 2006, issue

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