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Ads for state's 71st District seat could increase soon

Challenger says he’s better at listening to his constituents

STERLING – Starting today, residents in the Sauk Valley will begin seeing a lot more of the candidates for the Illinois House District 71 seat. 

Both state Rep. Mike Smiddy, D-Hillsdale, and challenger Jim Wozniak, R-East Moline, are expected to have TV ads beginning today and will likely continue airing them until the Nov. 4 election. 

Smiddy said his ads will start today. 

On Tuesday, State Rep. Jim Durkin, the House Republican leader and 82nd District representative, said the Illinois Republican party sees the 71st District as winnable and will begin airing ads for Wozniak in the next “48 hours,” he told Sauk Valley Media. 

In the same interview, Wozniak, who said he resigned as an assistant state’s attorney in Rock Island County so he could campaign for the Legislature, said he’s visited 5,000 homes in the district and touted himself as a candidate who will listen to his constituents. He said Smiddy has not be responsive to voters.

“Your job as an elected representative is to go to Springfield to make good law, repeal bad law, and then help your citizens meander through the government that’s creating issues and problems all the time,” he said. “You’re not always going to be able to help, but at least be able to try to seek an answer or assist them that way. ... From who I’ve talked to, [Smiddy] does a very poor job at that.”

Smiddy was also in the Sauk Valley on Tuesday, speaking to the Sterling Rotary Club. He spoke at the Rock River Forum at the Rock Falls Public Library on Aug. 14.

He’s held 26 town hall meetings in the past 18 months, he said.

“The accusation that I haven’t been out and about in the district is completely false,” Smiddy said. “I think I’ve worked the district well and been up in Whiteside County.”

Smiddy said that he was proud of the constituent services offered from his office and that is was “unfortunate” that Wozniak was critical of that.

Durkin said Wozniak is one of the state GOP’s top candidates. He hopes the Republicans can hold on to all their current seats in the Legislature and flip two to four as well win the governor’s office. That would break the Democrats’ veto-proof majority in the House.

“To me, that would be a very great success for us,” Durkin said. “The value of it is that I feel Bruce Rauner’s numbers are holding strong, that he will prevail in November. The House Republicans will be that backstop for Bruce Rauner on those veto actions by the speaker [of the House] and the president of the Senate.

“And it will give a Republican governor some leverage in negotiating a budget and other important issues that we’re going to have to deal with.”

Rauner, who was in Sterling on Sunday for a campaign stop, is challenging Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn.

Wozniak said the business climate in the state has to change and that high taxes, regulations, and high premiums for worker’s compensation are pushing businesses and jobs out of the district and the state.

“It’s no wonder why the businesses leave,” he said. “It’s just too costly to do business in Illinois. And when they leave, jobs leave.”

Smiddy said that part of attracting and keeping business in the state is infrastructure and that in his first term in the General Assembly he helped to pass a bill providing for about $30 million in infrastructure improvements, with a lot of that money going to Whiteside and Carroll counties.

Wozniak said that although his door-to-door campaigning is time sensitive, he’ll keep it up leading up to the November election.

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