Q&A with Richard Hamen; Veteran Seeks to Unseat Nekritz
Patch sat down with Republican candidate Richard Hamen to discuss taxes, Illinois' budget and business reform.
As Election Day approaches, Prospect Heights Alderman Richard Hamen is gearing up for what can possibly be the biggest fight of his life, his bid to unseat Illinois Democratic powerhouse Elaine Nekritz as the state representative for the Illinois House's 57th District.
Hamen has been in tough battles before though. He served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm as a sailor with the U.S. Navy and currently serves in a military intelligence unit with the U.S. Army Reserve.
As part of Patch's election 2010 coverage, Hamen took a break from his military training recently for a question-and-answer session. Some of the responses have been edited and condensed for length and clarity reasons.
Patch: What strengths, expertise and skills do you have that would enable you to show leadership in this office?
Richard Hamen: As an alderman in Prospect Heights, I have had to make the tough choices. Previous administrations had borrowed money and prolonged the inevitable. I recognized early on that this was unwise and have been proactive in cutting waste, cutting spending and, achieving a balnced budget. Due to these actions, we have been able to start paying back past debt and have saved the city millions. I will take this same approach to the state legislature.
Patch: In what way should the State of Illinois pay its bills and balance its budget?
Richard Hamen: There is a constitutional mandate to balance the budget. My opponent has not voted for a balanced budget. She has not cut spending and has voted with (House Speaker Michael) Madigan 85 percent of the time. I don't consider this being independent. I will never vote for an unbalanced budget. I will work to raise revenues by putting people back to work. I will audit the state's books to cut waste and spending to achieve a balanced budget.
Patch: Does the state have to consider raising taxes? What would you do with the revenue?
Richard Hamen: Raising taxes is the worst thing we could do. My opponent will raise your taxes to make up for her bad decisions and false promises. I will not raise your taxes and will work to roll back or eliminate the false promises made by my opponent.
Patch: If the state doesn't need a tax increase, where would you cut spending?
Richard Hamen: Spending does not need to be reduced, waste does. It is impossible to know where to cut spending until we perform a full audit to cut waste. If we cut programs before we cut waste, then that only means that politicians are being irresponsible. Once an audit has been conducted, we will know exactly where spending needs to be reduced and I will cut waste. Everybody knows what wasteful spending is. Do not allow your politicians to continue wasting your money.
We also need to identify areas where we can cut spending without cutting quality. For instance, we spend billions of dollars a year on textbooks and then we replace those same books just a few years later. If elected, I would push for the use of more computer-based training for our students that would reduce the need for expensive textbooks. There's just no need for new textbooks to be purchased every year.
Patch: How would you retain businesses in Illinois, and attract new businesses?
Richard Hamen: We need to [reform] Illinois' image as a pay-to-play state. My opponent hs received much of her support from trial lawyers and special interests. Her record of voting with Madigan 85 percent of the time speaks for itself.
I will work to add and retain businesses and jobs by reforming our image, insurance, health care , business costs and, tort reform as well as tax incentives that make sense for everyone. Companies that ship jobs overseas would not be eligible for these benefits and incentives.
We also need to recognize that with the global market, Illinoisans need to be more open to doing business in other languages. That is why visitors to my campaign website will find information about my accomplishments and my views in English and in Spanish. I'm one of the very few candidates who has reached out to Latino voters in their own language.
Patch: What measures do you endorse to end Illinois' culture of corruption? Would you support campaign disclosure laws?
Richard Hamen: I support ending my opponent's tenure in office and her support of Madigan's cronyism and insider politics. I will also support term limits and real campaign finance reform.
Editor's note: To read Patch's interview with Nekretz, click here.