Running for: 82nd District House Seat
Political party affiliation: Republican
Political/civic background: Served in the Illinois House of Representatives from January 1995-January 2003, and January 2006-present
Education: Fenwick High School, Illinois State University, John Marshall Law School
Campaign website: www.jimdurkin.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. Jim Durkin 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.
Let’s start with what should NOT have happened: the Democrats and Governor Pritzker passed a partisan budget that was $5 billion out of balance. Balancing the state’s budget on hypothetical, hopeful revenues has proven to be a disaster year after year, and these irresponsible and negligent budgets have plunged our state further into debt. At no point were Republicans brought into the negotiations, and that is unfortunate for all of Illinois.
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?
Being Governor in Illinois is a tough job on the best of days, and I do not envy the choices a governor has to make. However, we have seen Governor Pritzker put over a million Illinois residents out of work with the stroke of a pen without having a functional unemployment system. To this day, the IDES system is a complete disaster and it’s at the expense of those who are desperate to put food on the table for their families.
We all understand that we are living in unprecedented times, but the General Assembly is a co-equal branch of government and should be doing its job. The Governor continues to run state government via executive order over and over again. Myself and my colleagues from both sides of the aisle did not abdicate our constitutional responsibilities during this pandemic. Our governor cannot rule with unilateral authority.
3. In the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, legislatures in some states have taken up the issue of police reform. Should Illinois do the same? If so, what would that look like?
I am a reasonable lawmaker and have a reputation as one who works together with all members and stakeholders (regardless of party affiliation) to come up with good solutions to problems in our state. Coming from a law enforcement background as a former prosecutor at Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, I would like to work together with my colleagues to come up with thoughtful, meaningful criminal justice reforms. People in Illinois should never live in fear of their government, and unfortunately that exists today. That is unacceptable and needs to be