Thursday, January 28, 2016 || By Chris Harris
Over the next couple of months, your mailboxes will be filled with election info to the point of excess, so first I’d like to introduce myself: My name is Chris Harris and I am running for State Rep. in the 7th District. I was an elected official in Forest Park, serving on the village council as an independent voice fighting machine politics. My desire to run for the 7th District State Rep. seat is fueled by: The condition of the state of Illinois, the current leadership of our district and that leadership’s attention to the issues of our district.
I watched from the sidelines for years as I saw our state and area governments fail us. I saw a system devised that benefited a few and threw the common man aside. It irked me, and it still does. Most of the 7th District is in Proviso Township and with that, we have a failed school system that for decades has not put the students first. It would rather function as a contract warehouse offering paydays for all of the donors and city leaders that prop it up. It irked me more when the person who ran the 209 school board into the ground, to the point where the state had to step in and oversee its finances, got a ‘promotion’ to the state assembly. I think we can do better.
Illinois’ leadership is failing its citizenry in every way. Neglect and lack of long term planning has cost the state in jobs, growth and helped contribute to the monstrous pension crisis. Law makers set on advancing their careers and not looking out for who they represent fuels my desire to try and change a system on a path to self-destruct. We need to immediately address the pension crisis, and we first must realize and respect that in doing so we know that the people who have for years paid into the system expecting certain results are 100 percent entitled to those results. The future structure needs to be examined with fairness and concern for the worker.
Illinois also suffers from being a taxpayer’s nightmare. Out of control property taxes, sales taxes and income taxes make living here more costly than most other places in the United States. Add the business burden to that and that is why we have people and commerce fleeing this once strong state.
Illinois has been late to the game in social justice as well. Whether it’s equality issues, wage issues or crime issues, we have lacked any kind of leadership in this area. I strongly recommend that the way, and the rate, we imprison people be rethought. Nonviolent offenders clog up an overcrowded system, and small time drug crimes need to be dealt with via community service and by not derailing one’s life.
That last issue can be talked about locally, as well. We need local programs and outreach for first-time and nonviolent offenders. Working to keep people active and engaged in the community is a better process than removing them.
On a bigger scale, our district suffers from neglect by our rep and the state. I see empty storefronts and half-filled industrial parks blocks from my home in either direction. Economic development is not saying you will just do something; it is being out courting people and businesses to come to your district. You can look in every direction from Rep. Welch’s office in Westchester and see empty businesses.
Which leads me to our current leadership. Being propped up by local leaders, we have a shill for a State Rep. Just going by his resume` as the president of the 209 school board, he should have been fired long ago, not promoted to a state legislature job. He ran a school district into the ground without a care for the students. He used the board for his own personal gain and the financial gain for all of those that supported him throughout the years. He continues to do this in Springfield by passing legislation that benefits his donors and sells us down the river. The state of Illinois, at all levels of government, needs to gut the vampires who still see the state as a place where they can achieve personal and financial gain versus doing the work of, and for, the people of Illinois.
I look forward to the next couple of months and laying out my plan to return this office to the people. Please drop me a line if you’d like to chat more about it: Harris4StateRep@gmail.com. VFP
Chris Harris, a former Forest Park commissioner, is running for state representative, 7th District.