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Incumbent Mayfield faces challenger Burleson in 60th District

State Rep. RitMayfield

State Rep. Rita Mayfield

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Updated: December 23, 2012 1:26AM

WAUKEGAN — After running unopposed for her first full term in November 2010, incumbent Democrat Rita Mayfield faces a challenger in the 60th Illinois House District this fall with Republican Jackie Burleson making his inaugural run for elected office.

The two candidates underscored some differences during an Oct. 10 candidates forum at the Park Place senior center in Belvidere Park, co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Lake County, the Lake County Council for Seniors and the American Association of University Women.

In her opening remarks, Mayfield, who was first appointed to the seat in the summer of 2010 following the death of Eddie Washington, said she feels that “we need to send someone, such as myself, back to Springfield that has the ability to build relationships that can actively seek funding so we can maintain a lot of these programs that we’re in danger of losing.”

“I have been a strong advocate, a very strong voice, for the 60th District,” she added, “and I have made sure that a lot of our programs that would have fallen by the wayside did not.”

Burleson, a resident of unincorporated Waukegan, introduced himself to the Park Place audience by describing himself as “a rare commodity — I’m simply a citizen of this area, and I have seen too many things go wrong. We are 50th in bond issue, our credit ratings are the worst of the worst, our schools are 30th (and) we are No. 48th on the list of places where people would like to come and do business. I think we can do a better job.”

“I have a 4-year-old granddaughter that I’m doing this for,” he added. “I cannot see giving her the $30,000, $40,000 in debt that the state is in, per person.

Both candidates said they are in favor of the Public Pension Amendment to the Illinois Constitution, which would require public bodies to pass pension increases by a three-fifths majority vote. They diverged somewhat on whether they favor investments in road improvements or expansion of public transportation, with both saying they like the environmental benefits of public transit, but Burleson questioning whether some train routes are under-utilized.

“I would prefer (investing in) roads,” Burleson said. “Public transportation is, by design, a great, great thing, but I know every morning on my way to work, I stop and watch a train go by 12 cars deep and nobody on them. So until we can justify a transportation system that runs on public money that’s empty, I think we need to concern ourselves with where people are actually using them.”

“I’m all for public transportation. I’m an environmentalist by heart,” said Mayfield, adding that she supports options “for those individuals who could not afford a car, for whatever reason ... I definitely feel that we should have more emphasis on public transportation, not just for the environmental impact, but for those individuals who are low-income to help them get where they need to be so they can support their families.”

Burelson said he is completely in favor of concealed-carry of handguns in Illinois, adding that “in my particular area, it sometimes can take 20 or 30 minutes to get a cop to your house. I can take care of it a lot faster than that.”

Mayfield said that “personally, I would definitely like to carry a gun. However, our district at this time does not support that.” She added that the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus crafted proposals that she might have co-sponsored, including a concept that featured registration of handguns, “but we did not have the support that we needed.”

In their closing remarks, Burleson reiterated previous statements about running as a fiscal conservative, while Mayfield described herself as a consensus-builder who would seek to secure available funding for local programs.

“(The Democrats) have been in office for quite a long time, and we’re in the situation we’re in right now,” Burleson said. “If you think Illinois is where it needs to be right now, if you think that we’re in good shape and you’re happy with the way your kids’ education is, if you’re happy with the jobs we have, if you’re happy with the way your cities are being run ... then keep doing the same thing over and over again. Otherwise, you might want to take a look at us.”

“I am willing to work with any and everybody to get the job done, to bring the resources back,” Mayfield said. “I will follow the money, I am tenacious as heck. ... That’s the only way you’re going to know what’s out there, what’s available and who is doing what, because they’re making so many deals down there, and things are happening so fast.”

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