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Opinion | Voice of The Southern

Voice of The Southern: In upcoming primaries, choose Severin, Lenzi, Smith, Holder
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Voice of The Southern: In upcoming primaries, choose Severin, Lenzi, Smith, Holder

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With the 2020 Primary election a mere week and a half away, The Southern’s editorial board teamed up with WSIU to interview the candidates running for Illinois House nominations, as well as the 12th Congressional District in the U.S. House. Here is who The Southern is endorsing in each of the races.

US House District 12, Democrat: Two candidates are vying to be on the November ticket against Republican incumbent Mike Bost.

Joel Funk, of Mascoutah, is a 13-year veteran of the U.S. Army who grew up on his family’s farm. Raymond Lenzi, of Makanda, is a coal miner turned academic who founded the SIU Research Park.

Quite frankly, both candidates are very impressive.

Lenzi is a smart man with a lot of good ideas. As a gun owner, he’s in favor of the Second Amendment, but is for a ban on assault weapons. He also spent a lot of time talking about the climate and the need for renewable energy, but at the same time proposed a tax credit system that would aid miners displaced by the shift.

Funk was passionate about the issues facing the district — namely income inequality. He stressed the need for increasing the ability for many in our region to find a way to make ends meet.

Both candidates stack up very evenly, and you can’t go wrong voting for either; ultimately, we endorse Lenzi for this spot on the ballot.

Listen to the interviews here: https://news.wsiu.org/post/election-2020-12th-congress-race#stream/0

State House District 115, Republican: Current State Rep. Terri Bryant announced late last year that she is going to move from the House and run for state Senate in the seat that Sen. Paul Schimpf is leaving. Right now, Bryant is running unopposed for that Senate seat.

In the meantime, that leaves this seat open and five Republicans are vying to be the name on the Republican ticket come November. As of now, there are no Democrats on the ballot for the seat — but that could change before November.

The Republicans on the primary ticket are John Howard, a grain and beef cattle farmer from Jefferson County; Paul Jacobs, an optometrist and winery owner from Pomona in Jackson County; Clifford Lindemann, the Jefferson County Board Chairman; Zach Meyer, a Du Quoin business owner; and Johnnie Ray Smith, a correctional facility lieutenant at Pinckneyville Correctional Center from Ashley in Jefferson County.

Lindemann had a lot of good ideas, and has the background in government. One of the things Lindemann spoke of that we liked was making the interstates in our region more accessible, and even some interstate expansion.

Jacobs declined to be interviewed, so we have no idea if he’ll even answer constituents. And while we admire Meyer for running, he is far too inexperienced to be taken seriously.

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Two candidates stuck out to us during interviews: Howard and Smith. There was something about Howard and Smith that made them stand out. Howard has a booming presence and a strong personality that we liked. Smith had a quiet confidence that stood out against the others.

Howard spent a lot of his interview talking about the need for Illinois to tackle ethics reform as it pertains to politics. Smith spoke about SIU Carbondale and how the state needs to get back to 2015 levels of funding in order for the university — and the region — to thrive.

We endorse Smith, but you couldn’t go wrong with Howard.

Listen to the interviews here: https://news.wsiu.org/post/election-2020-il-115th-house-race#stream/0

State House District 116, Republican: Three candidates are vying to be on the November ballot against Democrat incumbent Nathan Reitz. Those candidates are David Friess, an attorney from Red Bud who ran against Jerry Costello II for the seat in 2018; David Holder, an accountant from Baldwin who is also chairman of the Randolph County Board; and Kevin Schmidt, a chiropractor from Millstadt.

All three cited the same things they wanted to fix: Lowering taxes and providing property tax relief to the residents of the district. The only thing is, none of the candidates really had any concrete ideas as to how the state would fund schools if property taxes were lowered.

All three also cited themselves as advocates for the Second Amendment and pro-life. In fact, all three candidates were very similar in most ways.

But, we believe Holder stands out because his experience in government (before he was on the county board, he served on the Sparta school board). That puts him above the rest of the candidates and the best fit to run against Reitz.

Listen to the interviews here: https://news.wsiu.org/post/election-2020-il-116th-house-race#stream/0

State House District 117, Republican: Incumbent Rep. Dave Severin is facing a primary challenge in Tim Arview, an insurance salesman from West Frankfort.

The challenge comes primarily because Severin voted for “Rebuild Illinois,” the first significant state construction plan that the legislature has passed in a decade — and because he voted for the taxes to fund it: Increases in gas and cigarette taxes and license plate fees.

He also voted for the gambling expansion to fund the capital plan, which will allow the long-sought-after Resort at Walker’s Bluff (including a casino) to move forward. When we asked Severin about his votes on the capital bill and its funding, he told us: “It was said to me when I was elected three years ago: When all else fails, vote your district. And that was voting my district.” Raising taxes is never popular, especially as a downstate Republican. But the benefits outweigh the costs in the 117th — Severin pointed to jobs that would be created and investments to improve the area’s roads and bridges.

We see in Severin a thoughtful, hardworking representative who is not afraid to make tough decisions. Arview, on the other hand, is short on specifics. He wants to spend money on infrastructure, but has no solid idea for how to pay for it.

No question here — Severin has the guts and the know-how and deserves another term.

Listen to the interviews here: https://news.wsiu.org/post/election-2020-il-117th-house-race-0#stream/0

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