Illinois Senate 23rd District Republican nominee: Seth Lewis
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Republican Seth Lewis is the Sun-Times’ endorsed candidate in the Illinois Senate race in the 23rd district. He faces Democrat Thomas Cullerton in the general election.
On Sept. 25, Lewis appeared before the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. Watch the video above on why he’s running for the Illinois Senate in the November 2018 general election.
The Chicago Sun-Times also sent the candidates running for the Illinois Senate a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the state. Lewis submitted the following answers to our questionnaire:
Please explain what cause or causes you will make priorities.
Lewis: The main priority for me as a State Senator would be to bolster the Illinois economy. Illinois has the potential to be an economic powerhouse, yet we are beginning to fall behind many states that have fewer resources than us. The government needs to focus on making Illinois a prosperous business environment. Due to taxes, poor management, and regulations many Illinois business have moved or are looking to move to different states. If business leave, then people leave as well to find employment in other states. We need to incentivize business not only to stay in Illinois, but for more business to come to the state. This can be achieved by reevaluating the current regulations and tax environment.
Please list three concerns that are highly specific to your district, such as a project that should be undertaken or a state policy related to some local issue that must be changed.
Lewis: No response.
What are the most important differences between you and your opponent?
Lewis: One of the major differences between my opponent and myself is that my opponent wants term limits only for leadership positions in the government and not for all government officials. I support term limits for all government officials. Allowing politicians to stay in power for extended periods of time, not only breeds corruption it causes politicians to focus less on helping their constituents and to focus more on campaigning for their next election.
Illinois is now the sixth-most populated state, down from No. 5, after 33,703 people moved out between July 2016 and July 2017. What must the Legislature do to make Illinois a more desirable place to live?
Lewis: The State of Illinois needs to implement systematic budget reform and make modifications to its regulatory environment so that Illinois’ current businesses could expand and out of state employers would look to come to Illinois.
Illinois needs to be able to compete with other states for jobs. We should be leading the mid-west in job creation – not lagging it. We have great things to tout in our state; we are a transportation hub, we have the highest skilled work force in the Midwest, our infrastructure is second to none, and we have a top-level higher education system.
Companies evaluate a state’s tax environment, regulatory environment and education system before they consider moving to a new state. Above all though, they look at the stability of the business environment. Unfortunately, Illinois continues to be at the bottom as it relates to all of these categories.
We must incentivize job creators to come to Illinois — and the first step to making that happen is to reform our state government.
Who is Seth Lewis?
He is running for: Illinois State Senate, 23rd District
His political/civic background:
- Bartlett Fire Protection District Trustee
- Bartlett Little League President 2012-2013
- Bartlett Little League Treasurer 2007-2012
His occupation: Small business owner, State Farm Insurance agent
His education: University of Iowa, B.A. industrial engineering
His campaign website: votesethlewis.com
Recent news: Seth Lewis
In 2017, our state’s unfunded pension liability ballooned to more than $130 billion. What’s to be done about that?
Lewis: There are many plans that have received bipartisan support including the Senate Presidents, the Batnick, and Fortner plans to name a few. All of them seem to rely on “consideration” in one form or the other. The best concepts from all of the plans that can pass a legal challenge should be implemented by the legislature.
From 2000 to 2016, the number of Illinois residents who enrolled as college freshmen outside the state increased by 73% (20,507 to 35,445). Why are so many more Illinois residents going to college elsewhere? What should be done to encourage more of them to go to school here?
Lewis: Illinois should be investing in scholarships and grants for in state college students, especially in stem areas. As the State invests in education for its citizens, the State can then expect that these students will later invest in the State by creating businessess and joining the workforce. The more that Illinois incentivizes business growth, the more that individuals will be incentivized to stay within the state.
What laws, if any, should the Legislature pass to address the problem of gun violence?
Lewis: Chicago has some of the toughest gun laws in the entire United States, yet also has some of the worst gun violence in the country. There are certain policies that may alleviate some of the gun violence that is seen in the state such as increasing waiting periods for certain types of weapons, and preventing the purchase and transfer firearms from across state lines.
On-demand scheduling software now helps large retail companies determine how many staff members they will need on a day-to-day or even hour-to-hour basis. The downside is that employees may not receive their work schedules until the last minute. Oregon and a number of cities have responded by adopting “fair scheduling” laws. Would it be appropriate for the Illinois Legislature to pass a “fair scheduling” law? Please explain. What would such a law look like?
Lewis: Implementing a fair scheduling law may be beneficial for the protection of private employees, however if implemented the state should take care not to overstep into the ability of business to manage their employees in a fair and reasonable way. Any plan that is discussed should not interfere with the contracting process between employers and employees.
Should recreational marijuana be legalized in Illinois? Please explain.
Lewis: Although medical marijuana may be beneficial for some people with severe medical conditions. Legislation allowing for the use of recreational marijuana would not have a beneficial effect on the citizens of the state of Illinois.
Opioid overdoses and fatalities continue to rise in number. In Illinois in 2017, there were 13,395 opioid overdoses, including 2,110 deaths. What should the Legislature do, if anything, about this?
Lewis: A major problem causing Opioid overdoses in Illinois is that opioids are overly prescribed by medical professionals. Opioids are highly addictive and yet they are prescribed to children when they have their wisdom teeth removed. Alternative treatments should be looked into and prescribed when available.
The Future Energy Jobs Act, passed in 2016, is generating job growth in renewable energy and improving energy efficiency. Do you agree or disagree with the objectives and substance of the Act? What more — or less — should be done?
Lewis: Energy production is a core competence in Illinois. Illinois should take every opportunity to enhance its abilities to produce different types of energy not only to provide inexpensive energy to residents of the state, but to export surplus energy across the world. Supporting policies such as The Future Energy Jobs Act will help maximize the economic output of the state, and increase the business opportunities within the state.
What would you do to ensure the long-term viability of the state’s Medicaid program? What is your view on managed care for Medicaid beneficiaries?
Lewis: As with most government programs, the goal of the state should be to maximize benefits while minimizing inefficiency within the program. If Illinois focuses on maximizing benefits, minimizing inefficiencies, and eliminating fraud then the long-term viability of the Medicaid program would not be in danger.
Underfunding at the Department of Corrections has led to troubling findings by the auditor general that many inmates don’t receive services or opportunities for work while incarcerated. Is this a legitimate concern? What should the Legislature do?
Lewis: The legislature should examine what resources and services inmates are not receiving, and whether these services and resources are truly valuable. Inmates are still citizens of the state and need to be cared for, especially while they are under the supervision of the state. Things like medical services should certainly be available to inmates. However; prison is not meant to be resort and any service offered should have its costs weighed against its benefits.
Should the state restore the practice of parole for people sentenced to long terms? Why or why not?
Lewis: The average cost for a prisoner in Illinois is $35,000 per year. Parole for inmates sentenced to long terms should be available if the parole board feels that the inmate has made significant hurdles in reforming their life. This would not only cut down on costs for inmates, but it would also allow for prisons to focus on reform rather than solely punishment.
Ahead of the historic 2018 elections, the Sun-Times is teaming up weekly with the Better Government Association, in print and online, to fact-check the truthfulness of the candidates. You can find all of the PolitiFact Illinois stories we’ve reported together here.