Harry Benton, Illinois House 97th District Democratic nominee

Candidate profile

Harry Benton

Running for: Representative House District 97

Political party affiliation: Democrat

Political/civic background: Trustee in the Village of Plainfield; Labor Caucus Director, Young Democrats of Illinois; Veteran’s Outreach of Illinois Board of Directors; Political Director, Young Democrats of Will County.

Occupation: Union Ironworker (Local 444)

Campaign website: harrybenton.com

Facebook: facebook.com/bentonforrep

Twitter: twitter.com/bentonforrep

Instagram: instagram.com/bentonforrep


The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent nominees for the Illinois House of Representatives a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the state of Illinois and their districts. Harry Benton submitted the following responses:

1. The COVID-19 pandemic has hammered the finances of Illinois. The state is staring at a $6.2 billion budget shortfall in this fiscal year. What should be done? Please be specific.

This is an unprecedented moment in not only Illinois, but the nation as a whole. We have done so much as a state to fight against the pandemic, but as we go forward, we have many different challenges that we need to meet head on. Our main fiscal concern needs to be ensuring that we are spending where it is needed and cutting where it is not. Testing, schools, those who lost their jobs, and small businesses need to be at the forefront of our priorities, working to offset the massive losses they have all been dealt to ensure that as we safely reopen everyone is taken care of. The budget needs to be pulled apart word by word to ensure that the priorities of our constituents are being met. While we reorganize our priorities, the federal government needs to step up and support frontline states to ensure that the COVID-19 response is fully covered. President Trump and the Republicans have decided not to do that, choosing partisanship over relief.

2. What grade — “A” to “F” — would you give Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic? Please explain. What, if anything, should he have done differently?

I think Gov. Pritzker has played the best hand with what he has been dealt. The way that the Republicans in the State and Federal government have decided that partisanship is more important than science makes Gov. Pritzker’s response all the much more impressive. We need to not forget while “grading” performance that we have lost more than 8,000 members of our community and the threat is still there to continue to lose more. I want to prioritize resources for all those affected by the pandemic, whether that be ensuring our front line workers are never worried about when they will get a new mask, or the small business owner in Plainfield that is working so hard to ensure that they are being safe, while still taking care of their workers. Gov. Pritzker has done well in a situation that no one had a blueprint for, and when I am elected, I will ensure that we are following the experts in all fields to make sure that Illinois comes

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Mark Batinick, Illinois House 97th District Republican nominee and incumbent.

Candidate profile

Mark Batinick

Running for: 97th District IL House

Political party affiliation: Republican

Occupation: Commercial Real Estate Agent

Education: Business Education 1992 University of Illinois

Campaign website: MarkBatinick.com

Facebook: Mark Batinick campaign, State Representative Mark Batinick official

Twitter: @mbatinick


The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent nominees for the Illinois House of Representatives a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the state of Illinois and their districts. Mark Batinick submitted the following responses:

The COVID-19 pandemic has hammered the finances of Illinois. The state is staring at a $6.2 billion budget shortfall in this fiscal year. What should be done? Please be specific.

There needs to be a multi-prong approach to this issue. The federal government has given the state billions of dollars in assistance. Unfortunately, the assistance comes with significant strings attached to it. Some of the necessary response costs are covered while others are not. Giving the states more flexibility in spending the money will incentivize efficiency while also helping to deal with the shortfall related to COVID.

Secondly, a budget shortfall is not a new problem for Illinois. We have to stop the cycle of over-spending and over-taxing, which leads to a net-out migration of higher-income earners. This type of policy-making only places a further burden on the budget. We cannot fund projects that are ineffective or inefficient. Previously, I have passed legislation changing things as small as mandates on certain types of ink usage required in printing to outdated maintenance schedules on state vehicles. I’ve also addressed larger issues by introducing legislation that led to the lump-sum optional pension buyout. This program has been over-subscribed and can be expanded.

What grade — “A” to “F” — would you give Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic? Please explain. What, if anything, should he have done differently?

Solid B. The Governor acted relatively quickly to halt the spread of the pandemic. Decisions made hastily aren’t usually perfect but in this instance there was definitely more good than bad. The Governor certainly listened to some of my suggestions. I was the first elected state official to push for the use of face coverings indoors. I started a local campaign and gave away PPE to help make that happen. He acknowledged my efforts publicly several times. Being a Republican pushing early for the use of masks also made it much easier for him to implement their use statewide. People forget that early in the Pandemic there was a lot of pushback against the face covering requirement. It is always helpful for significant policy decisions to have bi-partisan support. My initial conversations to him about this were the end of March with an open letter mid-April. The requirement was put in place at the beginning of May. I wish it has been put in place even sooner.

Big box stores were allowed to stay open and sell all of their items while small businesses selling the same items

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