Local politicos aim high at state office

August 12, 2009

Winters-Dave_119-WAfter state Rep. Dave Winters (R-68) announced July 22 he’d seek the office of lieutenant governor in 2010, Republicans and Democrats alike have begun eyeing the Illinois House seat Winters has held for 15 years.

Winters, who said he’s already introduced himself to Republican gubernatorial candidates, is stumping for political reform and economic development. Winters noted he’s particularly interested in the programs the lieutenant governor oversees, including the Rural Development Council and Main Street program, both of which aim to lure investment to smaller communities. He’d also like to foster a more affable atmosphere for businesses in general.

“Illinois has not been a state very friendly to business, or friendly to families, because we’ve been driving jobs out of the state,” Winters said. “The last 10 years, we’ve lost three-quarters of a million people.”

Winters said the state simply doesn’t cultivate enough jobs, and overtaxes and over-regulates companies.

Winters argued state legislators have resisted significant political reforms, and refuse to take ownership of the state’s fiscal mess, but he’d like to change that.

By May, Winters hopes to gain at least 280,000 signatures to place a state constitutional amendment on the ballot. Among his proposed reforms are six-year term limits and a return to three-member House districts, which was abandoned in 1982. Winters also wants to look into gerrymandering to ensure the redistricting process is fair.

So far, other Republicans seeking the party’s nomination for lieutenant governor are Hancock County Commissioner Randy White and Carbondale Mayor Brad Cole.

Democrats seeking the post include Chicago newcomer Scott Lee Cohen, Chicago Ald. Sandi Johnson (D-7), newcomer Thomas Castillo, of Northlake, Justin Oberman, son of a former Chicago alderman, as well as state Reps. Arthur Turner (D-9), Kevin Joyce (D-35) and Mike Boland (D-71).

Would-be successors emerge

Win or lose, Winters’ House seat will be wide open, and candidates have begun throwing their hats in the ring.

Aug. 6, Republican John Cabello declared his candidacy for 68th District representative. Cabello, a detective for the Rockford Police Department, was elected as a Harlem Township trustee in April, but he said he’s ready for state office.

“For my entire adult life, I have served the people in one capacity or another,” Cabello asserted during his announcement. “I want to now take my record of public service to the next level, and serve you, the people of the 68th District of Illinois, as your representative.”

In January, Cabello challenged the petitions of fellow Republican Joseph Terrell, who was running for Machesney Park village president. Cabello tried to knock Terrell off the primary ballot, arguing there were errors on his petitions. Election officials ruled Terrell would remain on the ballot, but he lost in the April general election to Democrat Tom Strickland.

While running for Harlem Township trustee, Cabello campaigned for transparency in township government, namely through implementation of a township Web site. He also pledged to fight for a lower property tax rate, and stated his first priority would be to push for an ordinance prohibiting friends and relatives of elected officials from being given township jobs.

Asked how his initiatives have been coming along since being elected in April, Cabello acknowledged there’s still work to be done, but that he’s keeping his chin up.

“I think that the budget can indeed be cut in Harlem Township through outsourcing in some instances, and outright cuts in other areas,” Cabello explained, stressing his continued push to publish township business to the Web.

“I have secured volunteers who will put the site up and maintain it for free,” he added. “Web sites and documents online is not a difficult process, and the engagement of citizens is critical to any budget process involving government.”

Cabello also teaches traffic safety at Rock Valley College, and serves on the Machesney Park Administration and Finance Committee. He also served on the village’s zoning board of appeals (ZBA) until resigning in March.

Cabello said he and two other ZBA members called it quits, in part, because many of the ZBA’s determinations were being ignored by the Village Board.

Undeterred, Cabello is setting his sights higher.

“I want to go to Springfield and let them know what people in northern Illinois think of deficit spending and out-of-control budgets,” he added. “As I look around the room, I don’t see anyone here who wants to see their children and grandchildren straddled with debt, and face life in Illinois with limited opportunities. I believe that I have the temperament and knowledge that suits this district, and I have the values and background that make me uniquely qualified for the 68th District. I have no hidden agendas. I’ve never felt comfortable speaking anything but the truth, and you should expect nothing less than that.”

Cabello argued he’ll fight for smaller government, lower taxes and health care costs, more jobs and tort reform.

“More government is not the answer to our problems,” he told fellow conservatives. “I will work for the common good. If a Democrat brings a bill that will help the Rock River Valley, I’ll vote for it. If a Republican brings forth a bad bill, I will not vote for it.”

Although promising bipartisan support of legislation that will benefit the district, Cabello pledged to oppose all tax hikes.

“Some lawmakers in Springfield are looking at a tax increase,” Cabello noted. “I am not for any tax increases.”

Although Cabello vowed to resist higher taxes, he touted his role as co-chairman of the successful Citizens for Roads referendum campaign last year, which led to the passage of a 1-percentage point sales tax increase for infrastructure improvements in Machesney Park.

“I supported the sales tax referendum in Machesney Park because we needed to fix the roads and infrastructure, but also to facilitate continued economic development,” he explained. “The majority of the revenues brought in by the sales tax comes from people out of town making purchases in Machesney Park. There is no property tax for Machesney Park, and I wanted to help to keep it that way.”

Cabello indicated he’s more concerned about taxes on the state level, because he believes high taxes are to the detriment of economic development in Illinois.

“I believe that the state government needs to be looked at thoroughly to find cuts before we have to go to the people and ask for more money,” he noted.

With the fiscal crisis reaching into every corner of the country, Cabello argued the state must learn to live within its means, and that cuts are inevitable.

“In this economic time, we must look at all aspects of the budget, taxes and spending,” he said. “The state must learn to live within its means. We need to look at cuts in the budget that we can make. Some of these cuts will be difficult, but must be done. I will work hard to make sure your voices are heard in fiscal matters.”

Based on his assertion, The Rock River Times asked Cabello whether his stance conflicts with his membership in Rockford’s police union, which is fighting tooth-and-nail to resist cuts proposed by city administrators.

“The union has its position, and I agree with much of it, but I also disagree with other issues,” was as much as Cabello would say, leaving the issue to collective bargaining. Cabello is in his 15th year with the Rockford Police Department, where he’s been a detective since 2000.

Cabello turned his attention to the state’s short-term solution to a long-term budget problem.

“The budget that was passed does not help anyone in this room,” he told attendees. “The state is borrowing $6.7 billion—$3.5 billion by issuing bonds, and $3.2 billion by not paying its bills. The spending must stop.”

Cabello’s plan for job growth focuses on nurturing existing businesses.

“I will work closely with law enforcement officials, mayors, village presidents and small or large businesses to see where I can help,” he said. “If I hear of a business that is closing, or wanting to relocate, I wanna be at their doorstep right away, asking how I can help keep them in our community.”

Cabello asserted he supports passenger rail for the region, and he believes in the potential of the Chicago-Rockford International Airport.

“Why waste millions of dollars on a third Chicago airport when we have a first-class airport here?” Cabello wondered. “I will aggressively fight boondoggles like the Peotone airport.”

With names like Winters, State Sen. Dave Syverson (R-34) and Winnebago County Republican Party Chairman Jan Klaas in attendance, Cabello appears to have notable support among his party. But that isn’t stopping other GOP figures from considering a challenge to Cabello in the February primary.

Rockton Village President Dale Adams is reportedly weighing his options with regard to the Republican primary for state representative.

Democrat Clint Little, a Loves Park alderman, has already begun building a presence on the Web for a second 68th District run. Little fell short last year, finishing second in a three-way race with Winters and Green Party candidate Gerry Woods.

Others, including Rockford Ald. Carl Wasco (D-4) and Linda Vaughn, who served as Machesney Park village president for two terms, haven’t ruled out the possibility of facing Little in a Democratic primary.

Democratic primary

likely in state Senate race

The race for the Illinois Senate’s 34th District seat has also drawn Syverson-challengers for what will be a two-year term, because of redistricting as a result of the 2010 census.

In June, Dan Lewandowski, a local attorney and chairman of the Winnebago County Democrats, announced he’s gearing up for a rematch with Syverson in the November 2010 election after having lost in 2006 by 11 percentage points. Syverson has held the seat since 1992, and Lewandowski was his first challenger in 13 years.

Although proud of the more than $10,000 in contributions he’s obtained thus far, Lewandowski may have an expensive primary hurdle to jump. City Attorney Jennifer Cacciapaglia, known for her assertiveness in combating problem properties in Rockford, has also begun circulating petitions.

Aug. 6,  Republican John Cabello declared his candidacy for 68th District representative. Cabello, a detective for the Rockford Police Department, was elected as a Harlem Township trustee in April, but he said he's ready for state office.

Aug. 6, Republican John Cabello declared his candidacy for 68th District representative. Cabello, a detective for the Rockford Police Department, was elected as a Harlem Township trustee in April, but he said he's ready for state office.

from the Aug 12-18, 2009 issue

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