A look at Democratic lt. gov. candidates

February 1, 2010 4:41:28 AM PST
The lieutenant governor's job has been vacant since former governor Rod Blagojevich was ousted and Pat Quinn took over the state's top job. Now, this usually low-key position has more than a dozen men vying for it. Six democrats are hoping to be picked as the next lieutenant governor of Illinois. The list includes long-time politicians as well as a couple of newcomers. Each man thinks he holds the key to creating new jobs and balancing the budget.

While other candidates say they'll bring jobs once in office, Scott Lee Cohen says he's starting now. He has held three job fairs at his campaign office and has staff offering free career coaching. He started his political career last summer when he organized a citizens action group called Rod Must Resign. He says what springfield needs most is fresh ideas.

"We need to find creative ways to bring revenue into the state," said Cohen. "I suggested naming rights to Pepsi or Coke or one of the soft drinks, where they would be the official drink of the state for a couple of years for millions of dollars. I'm not selling any of our public assets. I'm giving them naming rights."

Thirty-three year old union electrician Thomas Castillo says having no political experience could actually be an asset. he too, is running on a platform of ideas.

"I would also like stiffer mandatory minimum sentences for elected officials found guilty of corruption," Castillo said. "I believe we should hold them to a higher standard and also a ten-cents transaction fee on the stock exchange floors and all the electronic trading platforms. That'll generate nearly a billion dollars in new revenue."

Castillo says it's the career politicians who are responsible for the budget hole.

"They're not coming up with new ideas," he said. "They have very few ideas posted on their Web sites, and some of them don't have any ideas at all. They just choose to boast about their past legislative accomplishments."

Mike Boland is one of two state representatives running. He's from East Moline and has served 16 years. He says he has plenty of fresh ideas.

"We need to delve deeply into what I call the new green economy," said Boland. "We need to be manufacturing the parts, 8,000 parts, that go into those wind turbines. We should be building wind farms, construction jobs there. It takes 12 to 16 people to maintain a 42-turbine wind farm, so we can get employment there."

Arthur Turner is the other state rep. He's from the city's West Side and says ideas are no substitute for experience.

"It's one thing to have ideas," Turner said. "It's another thing to understand the legislative process. Twenty-nine years in this business, number three in the house of representatives say that I have some understanding of what this process is all about."

State Senator Rickey Hendon agrees there is some dead weight in high places, but says his record proves he doesn't fall into that category. He says he would be ready for service on day one.

"There are a lot of problems, a lot of people getting it wrong," Hendon said. "I continue to get it right, like Senate Bill 1979, which passed 59-0 to get people out of foreclosure. And the people get a grant, and they don't have to pay the money back. And at the same time, I was smart enough to think about the bank and the lender because if the lender gets some of their money, they're more willing to modify someone's loan."

State Senator Terry Link from Waukegan has been in office for 13 years. He says criticism doesn't bother him. He's already making plans to oversee the state's economic development if elected.

"If we get more businesses to stay in Illinois and come to Illinois, we make our work power stronger," said Link. "We make our economic ability stronger, and we make everything in a lot better situation than we had before."