Dan Caulkins and Jen McMillin bring strengths to their campaigns to take over the seat of retiring Bill Mitchell as representative for Illinois' 101st District.
Caulkins hits the right notes with his positions on property and income taxes, deteriorating roads and school funding issues. He's in tune with what the district's voters have been saying they want.
McMillin has made it clear she thinks individual and group sacrifice are going to be needed to pull Illinois out of its ongoing financial crisis, and the road to recovery will not be a brief trip. Caulkins' assertion that budget woes can be solved with three years of sacrifice is little more than a fanciful dream. However, we appreciate the considered optimism – even if the time frame is unrealistic – over a vague idea that in raising taxes (again) and handing Springfield more money is the route to solution. It has not worked for more than a decade. There's no reason to think voting in support of further taxation is alright. But just saying “no” without proposing alternatives aids no one either.
One of the biggest problems with state-based campaigns this year is the poor definition of some of the potential solutions to state problems. Caulkins has taken positions against a progressive income tax, an idea in which McMillin said she was “interested.” Caulkins also has taken a position against a mileage tax, one of the issues that's being floated at the edges of the campaign for governor without any specific plans or proposals from either side.
We appreciate Caulkins' position in favor of term limits. However, his pledge to not take a salary or benefits and his ongoing insistence that he has no intention of becoming a career politician do not enter into consideration for our endorsement. They're nice gestures with minimal impact, and should not reflect on those who need a salary for their work as public employees.
There's value is McMillin's pledge to honor the wishes of the people in the 101st District and not vote for the the longtime Speaker of the House, Chicago Democrat Michael Madigan, to retain his leadership seat. We hope she's not the only Democrat coming to that conclusion. But that in and of itself is not enough to earn McMillin the seat.
Caulkins is confident, a feeling justified by the last result in the district, where outgoing Mitchell won his last race by a 3-to-1 margin. He has discussed already reaching out to other potential Illinois House freshman. He is prepared for the job at hand. That is how he has earned our endorsement as the best candidate for the 101st position.