Illinois 58th district state senate candidate Sheila Simon was one of three democratic candidates to attend a Coffee and Candidates session Wednesday morning at Carbondale City Hall.
Simon was asked how she would help break the gridlock in Springfield. The former Lt. Governor says she would take a page from her father, the late Paul Simon, and work across party lines to find solutions.
"Part of that is just having some respect. To know, 'I appreciate where you come from and I understand your position. I disagree with you, but let's see where we can work together.'"
Simon says her number one priority is improving the educational opportunities for kids in southern Illinois.
"I had from one parent in Du Quoin that her son is in a class, where they can't take their books home because there aren't enough books to go around in the class."
Simon says she also wants to make higher education more affordable.
Simon is running against republican Paul Schimpf in an open seat vacated when republican Dave Luechtefeld retired.
115th district state house candidate Marsha Griffin was asked how to balance the state budget without raising taxes. Griffin says one way to start is by cutting out waste, fraud and abuse.
"There's a community in which there is a mosquito abatement program, where no one is living. Also, it's no secret there are a lot of lobbyists who have pet projects."
Griffin is a staunch supporter of unions and protecting workers' rights. Illinois has the worst–funded pensions of any state, with $111 billion in unfunded liabilities. Griffin says she state workers should not have to alter their pension benefits.
"The people who have contributed into their pensions did not cause this problem. It's a failure by our legislature for not making the payments on time."
Griffin is challenging republican Terri Bryant.
Democratic congressional candidate C.J. Baricevic offered remarks and answered questions from community members at the event hosted by the Carbondale and Murphysboro Chambers of Commerce.
Baricevic says he voted early and supported a state ballot initiative to protect road money in Illinois. He says both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have pledged to help at the federal level.
"They've dedicated a certain amount of money to invest in infrastructure throughout the country. So, one of the big jobs of your next representative will be to advocate for that money coming back into the (12th) district. You know, investing in our roads at a federal level."
The proposed constitutional amendment seeks to prevent money generated through tolls, taxes and other sources from being used for non-transportation spending.
If elected, Baricevic says he will also fight to protect Social Security and Medicare.
The St. Clair county attorney is running against GOP incumbent Mike Bost and Green Party candidate Paula Bradshaw in the 12th district congressional race.