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106th House, 53rd Senate Candidates Debate in Pontiac >

Political candidates for the Illinois legislature were in Pontiac Tuesday night calling for lawmakers to work together in finding solutions for the fiscal climate. 

The program was held at Pontiac Township Hiugh School.

The five candidates running for the newly-redrawn 106th Illinois House district had differing views on the state's condition.

Invited candidates included Scott McCoy and Brian Gabor of Pontiac, Josh Harms of Watseka, Tom Bennett of Gibson City and Richard Thomas of Dwight.

        {courtesy of Bloomington Pantagraph}

Tom Bennett says state legislators have to look people in the eye, developing trust and respect.

“As your state representative in Springfield, I would look to develop those relationships from people on both sides of the aisle,” said Bennett.

Josh Harms says a state representative must work with people that don’t always agree with them.

“How you gain respect and gain their trust is that you have to listen to them,” said Harms.

Richard Thomas says he has proven himself to be a leader.

“As a medical platoon leader during the great flood of 1993, my medical platoon sandbagged,” said Thomas.

Brian Gabor claims open communication and dialogue is key, when it comes to state politics.

“That is what I have learned in my business practices, helping to negotiate business deals,” said Gabor.

Scott McCoy says the state needs more people to work together, but it must come from both sides in Springfield.

“I don’t see in the state of Illinois where the democrats are working with us at all,” said McCoy.

The five candidates also spoke about getting the state’s economy moving in the right direction and how to address the state’s backlog of bills.

Senate candidates speak

The two men running for the 53rd Illinois Senate seat offered differing viewpoints during Tuesday’s candidate forum at Pontiac Township High School.

State Representative Jason Barickman, who is seeking the senate seat currently held by Shane Cultra, says house republicans did not bury their heads in the sand, but forced democrats to make cuts.

“We forced them to cut $4 billion in cuts this year alone.  Does this state have a long ways to go financially? Absolutely,” said Barickman.

Cultra did not agree with Barickman’s statement on forcing budget cuts.

“Jason, the house didn’t cut $4 billion in spending.  You cut $4 billion off a proposed budget of Pat Quinn, which came from Alice in Wonderland.  There was no way we ever had the money to support the Quinn budget,” said Cultra.

Barickman is calling for optimistic leaders in Springfield who can make a difference, while Cultra reminds residents of the state’s deficit budget that takes a $7 billion tax increase and spends every dime.

The candidate forum was sponsored by the LivingstonCounty Farm Bureau and Pontiac newspaper and radio station..