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First-Time Candidates Bid For 35th Dist.

The 35th District state representative race should be interesting because there are three candidates running without an incumbent in the March 20 Democratic primary.

Incumbent Democrat Bill Cunningham will not run for a second term in the state House, and is instead running for the 18th District state Senate seat now held by the retiring Ed Maloney. {{more}}

On the ballot seeking the Democratic nomination to replace Cunningham are Anthony R. Martin, Frances Ann Hurley and Andrew Byrne Hodorowicz, all first-time political candidates.

Martin and Hurley both live in Chicago’s 19th Ward, which makes up about 60 percent of the district, and Hodorowicz is a former resident. The district stretches from the city southwest through a section of Oak Lawn, as well as Worth, Palos Heights and unincorporated Palos Township and into Orland Park.

All three candidates have said they want to help restore residents’ faith in state government, and get Illinois’ financial house in order.

ÒI am doing this for the 34,000 residents of the district,” said Hodorowicz. ÒI don’t owe anybody.”

Martin, 46, lives in Chicago’s Mt. Greenwood neighborhood with his wife, Breda, and their four children.

A Chicago Fire Dept. lieutenant, he has been a member of Chicago Fire Fighters Union Local 2 for more than 23 years and is in his fourth term as a trustee on the Chicago Firefighters Pension Fund. He maintains that his experience managing the $960 million pension fund will be beneficial in Springfield.

ÒYou look at the state’s budget and it is a disaster,” he said. ÒThere is a (state) pension crisis that is the result of mismanagementÉIf we don’t get a grip on it, we are going to be bankrupt.”

Martin, a Brother Rice High School graduate with a bachelor’s degree in political science from St Xavier University, is nearing completion of his juris doctorate at John Marshall Law School.

Martin is also president of the Widows’ and Children’s Assistance Fund that helps families of firefighters. He said that being endorsed by more than 25 unions Òis a reflection of my knowledge of the issues.”

He said state unions are unfairly blamed for the pension crisis, which he said was caused by state legislators taking Òpension holidays” from paying into the pensions as required.

ÒWe need to pay our bills and get people back to work,” he said. ÒI am a big believer in unions. I am not saying unions have never made mistakes. But we wouldn’t have our current standard of living without unions.”

He said that the solution is not privatization. ÒThat hasn’t worked when Chicago tried it,” he said, referring to parking meters and the attempt to privatize Midway Airport.

On the issue of education, he said he would not be in favor of school vouchers, but would support tax credits for parents sending their children to private schools.

ÒWe really just need to improve the education that is provided,” he said, adding that the reason the Chicago Public Schools reduced the school day to 5.75 hours was not due to unions, but rather because music and art programs were cut out to save money.

He questions the move to increase the school day to 7.5 hours, saying it might not be financially viable because the system is still financially strapped.

Hodorowicz, 51, a resident of Palos Heights, has been married for 29 years and has two children. His family moved from Roseland to Beverly when he was growing up, and he graduated from Marist High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Chicago State University in 1981.

Hodorowicz said that his extensive financial experience as an auditor and now a mortgage broker makes him the most qualified candidate in the race.

Upon graduating from college, he became a performance and compliance auditor for the auditor general of Illinois, working in both in Springfield and Chicago.

He said he has audited a wide range of high profile institutions, including the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, the Illinois Tollway Authority, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois Racing Board, and the Illinois Liquor Control Commission.

Hodorowicz also points to his experience as the former controller, and later chief financial officer for Hawthorne Race Course, noting that he has worked on gaming and racing legislation with legislators, lobbyists and racing industry representatives.

He currently is a mortgage broker and banker with Paycor Mortgage, which he described as a mom-and-pop operation that had nothing to do with the bursting of the real estate bubble.

He maintains that his experience as an auditor and a chief financial officer sets him apart from his opponents, and gives him the credentials necessary to get the state out of its financial mess.

ÒWe need to cut our finances and balance the budget so businesses will not want to leave the state,” said Hodorowicz.

One of his main goals for increasing revenue is to open a riverboat casino in the south suburbs, and stem the flow of money going from area residents to Indiana and elsewhere.

Hodorowicz said the state is losing as much as $1 million in revenue per day due to the lack of gambling opportunities in the south suburbs.

He also advocates finally getting the much-discussed Peotone airport off the ground. He said that 50 percent of it could be devoted to cargo transportation, and take advantage of the fact that the Chicago area remains a railroad hub.

He said Chicago should also have a casino, Òbut not owned or controlled by the city.”

He added, ÒI do not think it is a good idea to have the city own a casino Ñ they have a problem handling parking meters and Skyway.

Hurley, 51, and a mother of three from Beverly, has been a top aide to former 19th Ward aldermen Ginger Rugai and now Matthew O’Shea since 1996. She is a graduate of Mother McAuley High School, and earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from St. Xavier University.

She has the backing of O’Shea, as well as several other political leaders, including Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

An attempt to reach her for comment this week was unsuccessful, but she has been quoted as saying that she wants to be a voice for the middle class in the state House, and make sure that the income tax increase passed last year will not be made permanent. The tax is due to expire in 2014.

While both her opponents claim she does not have the professional qualifications or experience necessary to be a state representatives, Hurley maintains that her experience working with city agencies and departments to help 19th Ward constituents will be beneficial in Springfield too.

She also said she will be a full-time state legislator if elected.

Orland Park resident Steven Williams is the sole candidate running for the Republican nomination.

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