RIVERSIDE – Pensions. Debt. Term limits.
These were the buzz words at a Candidates Night event hosted by the Riverside Township Regular Republican Organization at Riverside Township Hall on Thursday night.
Moderated by Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka – who was also celebrating her birthday and endured two rounds of singing – the event gave Republican candidates five minutes to present their platform and connect with voters, before allowing two questions each from the public.
Speakers at the event included candidates for governor State Senator Bill Brady, Bruce Rauner, and Treasurer Dan Rutherford; candidates for lieutenant governor; Evelyn Sanguinetti and State Representative Jil Tracy; candidate for attorney general, Paul Schimpf; candidate for secretary of state, Michael Webster; candidate for treasurer Tom Cross; and Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman.
Senator Brady was the first to speak at the event and thanked attendees for their support in his previous attempts to win the governor's seat. Brady focused on Illinois' "leadership problems" in his five minutes on the floor and called for the elimination of state income taxes and the Illinois Board of Education as he told attendees he was their best chance in the Republican race.
Brady was followed by Bruce Rauner who thanked attendees for their patriotism and support of Republicans. His goal, he said, was to get Gov. Pat Quinn out of office.
"This is out year," Rauner told the crowd of about 30 residents from Riverside and the surrounding area.
Rauner said his experience in business and his work overseeing retirement investments made him the best candidate for Republicans. Although a newcomer to politics as a politician, Rauner said he has worked in politics for a long time, including working with Chicago mayors on education reform.
Rutherford was the final candidate for governor to address the crowd Thursday evening.
"This isn't my first rodeo," Rutherford said and added he was the only candidate to have won a statewide race. "You have to be a unique, reasonable Republican to win [in Illinois]."
Rutherford largely focused on his ability to win in a race against Quinn, citing a speculative poll that showed him winning by two points as his fellow Republicans lost.
"We have to be very serious about who we select as our nominee," he warned.
Rutherford largely focused on bringing spending in line in Illinois and balancing the state's budget as the keys to making Illinois competitive again.
All the candidates for governor touched on term limits – mostly directed at getting rid of Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan. All three said they supported term limits as a way to get rid of clout and corruption in Illinois.
Jil Tracy, candidate for lieutenant governor running with Kirk Dillard, told the crowd Republicans had a difficult task of putting together the "best team" to beat Quinn in the upcoming election. Tracy presented herself as a "downstate girl" who could help Dillard – a collar county Republican – win over Quinn in the election. Tracy called herself a job creator, who knew how to bring jobs back to Illinois.
Likewise, Evelyn Sanguinetti, focused her remarks on her humble roots as the daughter of immigrant parents and her early years when "money was tight and things were never easy."
Although she said she was a product of the "safety net," she told the crowd that people in Illinois were not looking for handouts, but for jobs.
Running with Rauner, Sanguinetti said he appealed to her because he was not a career politician.