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Politics & Elections
WSIU's News Team brings you previews and ongoing coverage of the 2015 Illinois Municipal Elections.00000179-2466-d250-a579-e46f49960001

ELECTION 2016- Illinois 115th District Race

Next month on November 8th people will head to the polls to elect a new President and local officials.

For the residents of the 115th district in southwest Illinois, they must choose between incumbent Republican Terri Bryant and Democrat Marsha Griffin.

Two years ago Representative Terri Bryant of Murphysboro won the race for the 115th district seat that was left open by Representative Mike Bost who ran for a congressional seat.

This election has Democrat Marsha Griffin of Anna challenging Bryant for her seat.

Griffin has been a schoolteacher for over 10 years and this is her first time running for a state level political position - much like Bryant two years ago.

I sat down with both candidates to discuss how they would lead their district in a time where the state is struggling to move forward.

Both candidates say they are in the race for the same reason.

To change what’s happening in Springfield.

Griffin thinks that things are moving too slow.

“The thing that made me really want to come forward is seeing the lack of progress in our state and the amount of gridlock that’s occurring, I find it incredibly frustrating as do all the constituents of the district about the fact that its taken them almost a year and a half to come up with this 6 month stop gap budget and so I really want to be that strong independent voice for southern Illinois.”

Bryant thinks the state is finally starting to shift gears, but its going to take some time.

“ I was a state employee who saw everything that was going on in the state and wanted to be a part of changing the direction that we were headed, after spending two years in Springfield I don’t see that our direction has changed, now I think we accomplished some good things this past year in stopping some irresponsible spending that would have been forced on us had a $40 billion budget gone through and I think we were headed in the right direction at least when we were able to come together and put a stop gap budget together so I got into it this year again now because I can see us going forward and beginning to at least make progress in people understanding that we have to change the direction that Illinois is going.”

When it comes to jobs Representative Bryant believes Illinois needs to reorganize itself to be more business friendly and make sure the state can physically accommodate the needs of companies.

“First thing is we really do have to have some changes to how we do business in Illinois, getting the jobs here part of the problem is are difficulties with workers comp in Illinois but its also infrastructure when we don’t have east west travel or north south travel in deep Southern Illinois our 2 lane roads and some that are still oil and chipped or even gravel roads those are things that we need to make that we are being a little more forward thinking about.”

Griffin says the state needs to stop closing facilities in southern Illinois and help grow current businesses.

“We have to have that stability and no matter who’s the governor rather it be Governor Quinn or Governor Rauner you can’t take what jobs we do have here in Southern Illinois, I was very vocal when they closed the boot camp and Tamms correctional center and again I criticized Governor Rauner for closing the Hardin county work camp we need to keep what we have and try to make our state stronger. Whether its offering incentives for small business and ending closing corporate tax loopholes and offer those incentives to small business so they can grow.”

I also asked both candidates on how they feel about a tax increase like the one that expired a few years ago.

Griffin stated there in a tax she’s in favor of.

“I would be in favor of a tax on millionaires and put that burden on them as opposed to middle class families, I know I talked to a lot of people at the door and there just trying to keep their head above water so I wouldn’t support any effort to put an additional burden on the middle class families.”

Bryant wants to avoid what happened last time.

“If were going to talk about increasing taxes it needs to be very specific this time, last time it was supposed to go to pay down our back log of debts and it was supposed to go to paying down our pension liabilities and we came out of the tax increase in worse shape when we went in, that can’t happen again.”

One issue at the forefront of this race raised by Griffin is that Representative Byrant has not voted at all or taken a position on over 75 bills.

“ I believe that she’s been on the house floor but what she’s engaging in are no votes or present votes and so it’s not enough to be physically on the house floor you need to be voting on those bills and giving them due consideration each and every time and that’s what’s not happening.”

To this claim Bryant responded with this.

“ It started out originally by saying 50, then became 60 something and then it was 70 and then 75 and most recently I’ve heard 80 something and since that claim started we haven’t been in session and so far I don’t believe she’s identified to me what she’s talking about so first I would say to her probably we should be asking her what are you talking about.”

There are some bills that by law Representative Bryant can’t vote on.

“ I will tell you that there are sometimes that one has to vote present on some bills for instant as I told you I just retired from the department of corrections, so because under Pat Quinn there’s back pay owed for state employees. I’m owed about $5000 of back pay so every time a bill came up that had state employees back pay on it the ethics law says that I cannot vote in the affirmative on any bill that will give me personal monetary perk.”

Representative Byrant also says that if anyone wants to check her voting record they can go to www.ILGA.gov and look at each day's roll call for votes, which is found under the journals link.

Don’t forget election day is coming up on November 8th and tune in next Monday for our look at the candidates running for the 117th State House Race or go to WWW.WSIU-NEWS.ORG