ELECTION PREVIEW: Republicans have 3 state rep candidates

Three candidates are vying for the Republican party nomination in the race for 116th District State Representative on March 17 as they seek to unseat Nathan Reitz (D-Steeleville), who was appointed after Jerry Costello II was appointed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker to be director of law enforcement for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. 

David Friess

David Friess is a lawyer with a practice in Red Bud. He is also a member of the Red Bud City Council.

He graduated from Chester High School; graduated cum laude from Mercer University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and earned a law degree from John Marshall Law School. He is a member of the Randolph County Bar Association.

Friess served in the U.S. Air Force and USAF Reserves and was a combat veteran in Operation Desert Storm.

He is also a member of the Red Bud VFW, attends Ebenezer Church in Rockwood and helps coach his children’s youth sports teams.

David and his wife Miki have two children, Thomas and Jeda.

Friess said he is running “because of my two young children. My wife and I have been able to live the American dream right here in Southern Illinois where we grew up. I fear that my children will have no choice but to look elsewhere for opportunity once they graduate college.”

As a state representative, Friess says he will “vote for lower taxes, less spending, and term limits on career politicians. I will never vote to infringe upon our Second Amendment rights and I’ll always fight to protect the unborn. I will steadfastly represent the conservative values of Southern Illinois.”

In addition, Friess stated that “a growing economy is the main source of needed revenue to pay for fixing our roads. Illinois’ economy is lackluster at best due to the tax-and-spend policies of Pritzker and (Illinois Speaker of the House Mike) Madigan. Illinois is in a state of depopulation due to the crushing tax burden career politicians have placed on the residents of Illinois. The politicians in Springfield must get the state’s spending under control and balance the budget. The budget should be scrutinized, and waste cut from the bloated state budget.”

Friess also opposes the progressive tax system, stating one advantage Illinois has over neighboring states from a business standpoint is the flat tax system. He would like to keep the flat tax and “roll back” recent tax increases, adding “Illinois doesn’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.”

Friess also said “the legislature needs to make solving the pension problem a priority and transition to a 401k-style retirement system. Unfortunately, our current class of career politicians cannot keep their hands off funds earmarked for pensions or any other line item. If the state has money, the career politicians spend it without considering the long-term effect. Until the state transitions away from its current pension system, and we elect disciplined conservative politicians, we will be paying for legislature’s reckless spending for generations.”

He also sees education funding as a top priority. He explained Illinois’ high property tax as a the result of Illinois being “one of the worst states in the nation for state support for public education.”

“I also believe the evidence-based funding formula should be doing even more to send money to poor and rural school districts where there is not a tax base to support good schools on primarily local property taxes. Why should kids in the suburbs of Chicago have state-of-the-art facilities better than most universities while schools where we live in Southern Illinois have 10-year-old textbooks and a crumbling school building? Our funding model should address the disparity,” Friess added. 

David Holder

David Holder is a certified public accountant and governmental auditor from Ballwin.

Holder earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from SIU Carbondale in 1978, CPA from University of Illinois in 1980 and MBA from SIU Edwardsville in 1987.

He has been on the Randolph County Board of Commissioners since 2010 and has served as chairman of the board for the past three years. He also served as budget director for over five years and was a member of the Sparta School Board from 2003-10.

Holder is a member of St. John’s Catholic Church in Red Bud and has served on a number of private boards and commissions, including Human Service Center Board of Directors since 1991, and as president of the board since 1996.

David and his wife Carolyn have three children and seven grandchildren.

“I have lived and served in this district for my entire life and I am committed to providing quality representation for everyone in our district,” Holder said, adding that he helped establish the Monroe/Randolph County Enterprise Zone and helped coordinate flood mitigation efforts last spring.

“I believe my qualifications and experience are outstanding for the office of State Representative and Illinois needs these qualifications and experience to effectively work to resolve their problems,” Holder said. “Illinois must begin to balance its budgets, live within its means, fund its pensions and respect and support the rights of the people of Southern Illinois. As State Representative, my focus will be to resolve these problems and promote economic growth and opportunities for Southern Illinois and our State.”

Holder also said that, if elected,  he “will work to support our Second Amendment rights. I have been a gun owner for 50 years and I understand the importance of these rights.” 

He also stated he is pro-life.

Holder said he cannot support Pritzker’s progressive tax system “unless solid protections are provided to protect future taxpayers from what may be proposed or enacted in the future.”

When asked about the state’s public pension funding issue, Holder stated “there is not an easy solution to the current underfunding of pensions. They must be funded from future revenues and the sooner Illinois begins this process, the less expensive it will be over the long term,” adding that changes need to be made for future pensions to prevent under-funding.

As for education funding, Holder said he would like to more thoroughly examine the “evidence-based” funding model before commenting on specific points, but also noted he is “in favor of adequately funding our educational systems as quality education for every child is the foundation of a prosperous future society.”

Kevin Schmidt

Kevin Schmidt is the owner/operator of Schmidt Chiropractic in Millstadt and Freeburg. 

He has a bachelor’s of science degree in human biology and doctorate of chiropractic from Logan University and College of Chiropractic.

Schmidt is past president of both the Millstadt Optimist Club and Millstadt Jaycees. 

Kevin and his wife Laura have two sons, Luke and Dean.

Schmidt says he is running for office because he is “tired of career politicians running our state into the ground. We are losing population at a frightening pace. Last year alone, Illinois lost more than 50,000 people. The reason people are leaving is simple. They are tired of paying more and more of their income in taxes only to see it wasted by corrupt, career politicians.”

Schmidt stated his intent to “stand up for taxpayers” by not voting for any tax increases. He said he is in favor of requiring voter approval for local and state tax increases, caps on government spending, including a one percent cap on property taxes, and he would like to see a forensic  audit on all state spending.  

Schmidt opposes the progressive income tax, saying “Illinois has the highest combination of state and local taxes in the nation. When you combine a graduated income tax with all the other taxes Illinois residents pay such as the second highest property taxes in the nation, a graduated income tax would do irreparable harm to our state.”

He also stated opposition to Reitz’s support of the tax amendment, adding he would “advocate for the reforms we need to turn Illinois around. I will oppose the tax-and-spend policies that have produced the worst credit rating of all 50 states, the third worst funded pension system in the country and a backlog of $6 billion in unpaid bills.”

Schmidt said of pensions that the “current path we are on is not sustainable.” He would like to see reforms to the system such as tying cost-of-living adjustment to the consumer price index to “ensure growth does not outpace our ability to pay.”

Another pension reform he would like to see is a $132,000 cap and “Tier 3 defined contribution system for all new employees.”

In regard to education funding, Schmidt stated that it should be “one of, if not the most, important funding priority,” adding “everyone supports money for education. The question is what is affordable?”

He expressed strong support for HB 3053, a bill that would have created a “School District Efficiency Committee” if it had passed the state senate. 

Schmidt called the bill “common sense legislation,” noting it could have potentially reduced the number of school districts by 40 percent “without closing a single school or eliminating a single teaching position.”    

Schmidt says the state needs “reform-minded individuals to take the initiative to run for office. I saw a need and decided it was time for me to put my principles into practice.”

To read profiles of Democrat U.S. Representative candidates, Republican U.S. Senate candidates, judicial candidates and others running in contested and uncontested primary races, pick up the March 11 issue of the Republic-Times newspaper.

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