Candidates march in area holiday parades

July 5, 2010 (ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill.)

Candidates in key Illinois races greeted people attending parades in several Chicago suburbs.

Governor Pat Quinn and his Republican challenger, State Senator Bill Brady, campaigned at a parade in the northwest suburbs this morning.

The candidates running for the U.S. Senate, Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Mark Kirk, marched through the streets of Crystal Lake this afternoon.

With only four months until the election, the candidates were not missing an opportunity to reach out to voters.

The state owes schools in Illinois $5 billion, and the state budget is $13 billion in the hole.

Quinn and Brady both say they want a balanced budget and more jobs, but they have different ideas on how to get that accomplished.

Brady says more programs and budgets can be cut without a tax increase.

"There's a lot of families that aren't celebrating today - Illinois' unemployment rate is the highest it's been in 26 years," said Brady. "Governor Quinn's idea is to increase taxes, borrow and spend."

In March, Quinn said there could be a 33 percent income tax hike, and that he has already slashed the budget as much as possible.

"I've cut the budget $1.4 billion this year, $3 billion since I've been governor," said Quinn. "My opponent doesn't have a plan at all - it's a blank piece of paper. He doesn't have any specifics."

Quinn and Brady both were in the Arlington Heights parade Monday morning.

Onlookers shared their views on the possibility of ongoing program cuts versus higher taxes.

"We all know what gets cut first - fine arts and sports, and our kids need those outlets, and yet we still gotta strive for the best education," said parade attendee Audrey Kowall.

One parade-goer said she does not want to see new taxes because money is already too tight.

"I don't have any money to give away any more," said Dupe Edeoga. "So no budget. No taxes."

Hours later in far northwest suburban Crystal Lake, Giannoulias and Kirk both reached out to voters.

Their campaigns have both been distracted by personal issues. Kirk misspoke about his military history, and Giannoulias is trying to get past news about how he received nearly $30,000 in a tax refund last year, even as his family's bank collapsed.

Federal regulators closed Broadway Bank in April.

"Unlike my opponent, I've made my tax returns public," said Giannoulias. "I think it's important for people to know that. I'm very proud of that, and we're going to continue to do so."

"I made mistakes, but I apologized for that in a speech, but I'm very proud. I served 21 years in the United States Naval Reserve, including service overseas," said Kirk.

Many people said they were tired of hearing about the candidates' personal issues and wanted to hear more ideas.

The issue both candidates and voters seem to care about most is jobs.

"I think the best thing to hear from any politician is they have some kind of concrete plan," said parade attendee Christopher Knight.

In last week's job report, the unemployment rate did fall to 9.5 percent the lowest in a year but jobs were not as many jobs as hoped were created in the private sector and U.S. census jobs concluded.

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