Emiliano Vera and Scott Stoll are running for the Democratic nomination for 93rd District State Representative in Illinois. The winner will challenge incumbent Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) in this fall's election.
Vera and Stoll squared off during a candidate forum organized by the League of Women Voters of McDonough County. TSPR News Director Rich Egger and NEWS3 anchor and reporter Devin Brooks served as moderators for the forum, which took place at the NEWS3 studios on the Western Illinois University campus.
Vera, 26, is from Bushnell. He is a substitute and resource teacher in the Bushnell-Prairie City School District.
Stoll, 40, lives in Rushville. He is Chief Operating Officer of Moreland & Devitt Pharmacy in Rushville.
You can listen to the entire forum with the audio link accompanying this story.
Here is an edited transcript of the candidates’ responses to a couple of questions:
Q: What are your ideas about how to support and promote economic development in the region?
Emiliano Vera: Democrats and Republicans have been talking about economic development - we need to support small businesses, we need to grow jobs. That is something that if you look on Norine’s website, she said the exact same thing. Pretty much the same fluffy words that are on Scott’s website.
I think I am the only candidate who is calling for direct public investment into our economy. Look at the way that we have made supposed economic growth in this district and across the country for the past 30, 40 years or so. It has been with things like TIFs. It’s been with incentives to businesses. Basically giving public taxpayer dollars to private companies that benefits them for their profits.
I am the only person who saying if we are spending public taxpayer dollars to generate jobs, we should not be sending those dollars into the pockets of wealthy corporations. We should be spending that money directly and creating the only good jobs that are here in this area and that is public jobs. So that means a strong public jobs program that includes the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which will provide public green energy jobs to communities all across this state, and also by investing in the public jobs that we already have like Western and making sure that the thousands of jobs that could be being done in this state but are not because we simply are not investing in it are being done.
Scott Stoll: I’m a firm believer in that the only one sitting at this table right here that has understood what economic development does in a small town and anybody that has worked in it is myself. I am the economic development chair of Rushville. I have worked wholeheartedly with TIF dollars, with grants, with funding. And yes, Emiliano is correct, some of those TIF dollars, some of those tax abatements, they do go to large corporations. He’s correct about that. That does happen.
However, I have worked more in the last three years with small business owners and people that are coming out of high school, people that are coming out of college, that want to be entrepreneurs. They are the ones that are looking for a start, for a new start for advancement.
We’re seeing too many of our Main Streets go dark in our small communities. And we’re letting that happen by not focusing on how we can help them and how we can support them.
I’ve worked in it. I know about it. I’m experienced in it. And I know that I’m the only one that has actually physically worked on it and dealt through all of those issues with local business owners.
Q: What legislation would you propose if elected to the Illinois General Assembly?
Scott Stoll: One of the big pieces that I’m working off of is in healthcare. I work in healthcare. I see it day-to-day. The biggest problem that I feel like we have right now is the fact that we have two lobbyists for every one legislator in Springfield right now. And you know where those lobbyists come from? They come from insurance companies and drug manufacturers. We need to get them out of this decision-making. All it is doing is increasing premiums, increasing drug costs.
We see it every day. I see it where somebody comes in and they can’t pay for their insulin or they can’t pay for this medication or that medication. They give it back to us because they can’t pay for it. And there’s nothing that pharmacies or rural access hospitals or clinics can actually do about that because those levels are set by drug manufacturers and insurance companies.
Oddly enough, there’s an insurance company out there right now, CVS Caremark. Well that’s odd because there’s a CVS retail pharmacy as well. Who do you think owns each other? It’s a vertical system and it’s got to end. We need to bring a better healthcare situation and solution to the people and give them some relief.
Emiliano Vera: I would like to propose a healthcare bill that’s a little bit more concrete than just saying that we have to do something about healthcare. Because once again, if you look on Norine Hammond’s website, she’ll say exactly the same thing: Healthcare costs are high. We need to bring them down for our working families.
And I agree. But I have something that is actually concrete: a Medicare-for-all system in Illinois. Universal healthcare for every single man, woman, child - every single person in Illinois, given as a right, provided from the taxpayers as every other developed country in the world has.
People are going to say that this is expensive, that Illinois is broke. First of all, we know Illinois is not broke. Illinois is actually one of the largest economies in the world. Our millionaires and billionaires are just not paying their fair share. On the contrary, Illinois has a larger economy than a country like Denmark that does provide universal healthcare to every single one of its citizens as a basic, decent thing to do because that’s what you do when people are sick. And healthcare is something that every single person deserves.
We need a universal healthcare system as proposed, mind you, by two of the gubernatorial candidates in our last election. This is something that has been proposed in Illinois, that can be done here, and Illinois should lead the country in providing healthcare for every single one of our residents.