The candidates vying for a seat in the race for 116th District State Representative are David Friess (R-Red Bud) and incumbent Nathan Reitz (D-Steeleville), who took over in 2019 for Jerry Costello II after Costello was appointed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker as director of law enforcement for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
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 and helps coach his children’s youth sports teams. David and his wife Miki have two children, Thomas and Jeda.
Friess says he is running “because of my two young children. My wife Miki 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. I believe people should vote for me because I have a history of serving others and will go to Springfield to represent the will of the people, not Mike Madigan or the Chicago Machine.”
If elected, Friess hopes to establish ethics reform and end “corruption that has plagued our state.”
He noted that his opponent, Reitz, has not called on current Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan to resign amid a federal bribery investigation.
Friess says he “won’t be a Madigan rubber stamp,” adding that Illinois “is at a critical juncture and our elected officials must be transparent with the leaders they support and the path they will follow to improve the future of this state.”
He also opposes the graduated income tax amendment on the ballot, saying “the progressive tax the governor is promoting is going to kill small business and the state’s economy as a whole. Small businesses are the lifeblood of every small community in the state and the state as a whole. The progressive tax is going to put every small business at a competitive disadvantage. Moreover, there is a high probability the progressive tax will drive more citizens out of Illinois. I don’t expect the progressive tax to do what it is being sold by the governor.”
Friess is also pro-life and pro-Second Amendment.
When asked what can be done to help control the state budget, specifically in the near future, Friess said the state “has to stop spending money we don’t have,” also pointing out the “balanced budget” in Illinois required a loan of $5 billion.
“No one can do that in their personal life, and we shouldn’t do that at the state level,” Friess continued. “That bill has to be paid at some time. It is absolutely unacceptable. “
When asked how he could bring jobs to the district, he again pointed to ethics reform as a way to end corruption, thereby controlling state spending and leading to lower taxes, which Friess cited as a reason the area is “not a business-friendly environment.”
Friess does support the proposed “four-lane connector” highway project between Waterloo and Murphysboro as another way to promote regional economic growth.
Incumbent Nathan Reitz has always lived in Steeleville. He was a supervisor at Baldwin Power Plant for 20 years and served as a Steeleville Village Trustee and was a former vice president at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.
“I know the needs and values of this district. I’ve taken that experience and used it in Springfield to be a strong voice for our needs, especially for our farmers and in agriculture,” Reitz said, adding, “as a lifelong Southern Illinoisan, I believe our community deserves a representative who will continue fighting every day for Southern Illinois and our values.”
Reitz pointed to his actions as representative as examples of what he stands for.
“In Springfield, I’ve fought to help reduce taxes for people in our district and served on the property tax relief task force, representing our area in the discussion about ways to reduce skyrocketing costs without hurting local schools or adding additional burdens to middle-class families,” he said. “I’ll continue to work with both Republicans and Democrats on legislation that protects the rights of law-abiding gun owners and protects health care for thousands of people.”
“I believe that my work in Springfield reflects the values and priorities of families in Southern Illinois. I’ve advocated for lower taxes for working families and sponsored legislation that helps protect seniors, veterans and our Second Amendment rights. I’ve made local jobs, health care and agriculture some of my top priorities since taking office, and I’ll continue to be that voice in Springfield for families in the 116th District.”
Reitz also noted he sponsored legislation that continued the task force responsible for preliminary research for a “four-lane rural expressway which would be a crucial expansion for commerce and future jobs in our region.”
When asked what he believed key issues were, Reitz mentioned “Second Amendment rights, protecting life, standing up for law enforcement and lowering taxes.”
Concerning the proposed graduated income tax amendment, Reitz, who voted to allow the amendment to be on the November ballot, said, “I believe that it should be up to the voters to decide. Right now the legislature can change the rates (and) tax retirement, but in all reality you still have to come back to the voters and tell them that you decided to change those rates and tax retirement. It would be no different should (the amendment) pass,” adding that changing rates under a graduated system would still require a legislative vote for which representatives would be accountable.
When asked about state spending, specifically in the near-term, Reitz admitted it would be a “struggle” due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.
“Every year we have to pass a balanced budget,” Reitz explained, stating that unforeseen effects of the coronavirus pandemic required that the state allowed “up to $5 billion of federal borrowing at a low interest rate, if needed. At a time like this you also have to fund the services that people need. You can’t go out today and say ‘we’re going to cut our way to a balanced budget’ in a time when we’re not taking in the revenue that we should take in,” also conceding that “we obviously need to look at ways to save money.”
Reitz specifically mentioned, if elected to a second term, his desire to eliminate Illinois Department of Central Management Services, an organization that oversees more than 80 state agencies, boards and commissions.
“CMS is just an extra process that I don’t think we need. It costs every other agency within (state) government more money,” Reitz explained.
For a video of the recent candidate forum, click here.