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
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