18th Congressional candidates Darin LaHood and Junius Rodriguez were the focus of WLDS’ “What’s On Your Mind?” on Friday.
Republican State Senator LaHood took over the 18th District seat in September of 2015, months after the resignation of Aaron Schock.
LaHood says he’s learned a lot from his year of experience in Washington D.C.
“People are very frustrated with government that live in my district. We have a national debt that is $19 trillion. I’ve tried to focus on fiscal responsibility, smaller government, ethics and transparency. I continue to be a stronger proponent of term limits and promoting an economy that creates more jobs and economic opportunities,” says LaHood.
“That will help so many things if we have growth at two and three percent. We have more private sector jobs and more people paying taxes. That helps our education system, transportation system, brings down the debt and creates more opportunities.”
LaHood expressed the importance of expanding trade for local agriculture families and businesses.
“Ag is the number one industry in Illinois. Ag has to be a priority. Since I took office, I set up an ag advisory committee. I meet with them on a quarterly basis. I have 40 farmers that serve on that, many from Cass, Morgan and Scott. What that has done is help me have a strong voice in Washington D.C.,” says LaHood.
LaHood says he’s taken steps to improve the economy of the 18th District. A multi-year transportation bill was passed this year, which brings $7.5 billion over the next five years to Illinois’ infrastructure. On the economic side, LaHood is pushing for comprehensive tax reforms and less regulations.
Rodriguez is the Democratic nominee for the 18th District seat. The career educator, who serves as president of the board for two organizations in the district, explains why he was drawn to politics.
“I have a firm belief that ordinary citizens have the opportunity to step forward and present ideas in times of need. I don’t believe in the idea of career politicians. I believe individuals should come forward and offer what they have to the people and be willing to stand aside after their tenure. I believe in the idea of term limits. I’ve expressed a willingness to opt out of the congressional pension system and I will never accept a dime of SUPER-PAC money,” says Rodriguez.
When it comes to jobs, Rodriguez feels “the largest engine of job creation” is the small business sector.
“Seven out of every ten new jobs are created by small businesses. I think one of the things we need to do is make sure we level the playing field as much as possible so those individuals who want to start businesses or maintain business aren’t hamstringed by the environment. This makes sure we don’t have over-regulation on the state, federal and local levels,” says Rodriguez.
Uplift in Place, a proposal submitted by Rodriguez, would allow towns across Illinois to design education programs and job training centers to fit community needs.
The 18th District stretches into parts of Cass, Morgan and Scott Counties.
You can listen to the full interviews with LaHood and Rodriguez below.