By Chuck Sweeny
ROCKFORD — The 69th District state House race features a three-term incumbent Republican fighting to retain his seat against a Democratic political newcomer. The district takes in part of Rockford's east side, Boone County and part of Ogle County.
State Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, is a native of Hanover Park and a graduate of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. He was a DeKalb alderman from 1999 to 2003. In 2005, he was elected First Ward alderman in Rockford and re-elected in 2009. Sosnowski was elected to the state House in 2010. He was re-elected in 2012 and 2014.
Sosnowski, 39, works for Rockford Christian Schools, where he is director of advancement.
Angelique Bodine, 44, is a native of Great Bend, Kansas, who lives in Poplar Grove. She is employed by First Student, a privately owned school bus service, where she is a member of the Emergency Response Team. She is a graduate of Rock Valley College and the University of Illinois Chicago.Joe Sosnowski
Political affiliation: Republican
Occupation: Director of advancement at Rockford Christian Schools
Political affiliation: Democrat
Residence: Poplar Grove
Occupation: Emergency Response Team member for First Student, a privately owned school bus service.
Bodine backs a number of reforms, including the Illinois Anti-Corruption Act, which would prevent former legislators from being lobbyists for five years, provide for publicly funded campaigns and limit the influence of special interests.
She supports term limits and supports the ongoing effort to reform the way state legislative districts are drawn, a job now done by state Democratic Party leader and House Speaker Mike Madigan.
Bodine said "it takes courage" to go against leadership, but said she's up to the task.
Bodine also supports a graduated income tax, because "with the flat tax of 3.75 percent, that has a greater impact on people at the lower end of the spectrum. Those who can pay more have an obligation to pay."
Bodine said she would work to create jobs and improve funding for education, "bring rail service to Rockford, and open the door to new industrial and agricultural opportunities in our area."
Sosnowski supports Gov. Bruce Rauner's efforts to reduce spending and reform workers' compensation laws, bring down Illinois' property taxes, which are the highest in the U.S., and pass a balanced budget. These things, Sosnowski said, will make Illinois friendlier to job-creating businesses.
"We also need to give institutions, like universities, freedom to operate without state mandates, and give municipalities flexibility in how they employ people," he said.
On the state income tax, Sosnowski said, "I'm open to looking at the rate, but remember, we raised nearly $30 billion in revenue when the rate was raised (temporarily) to five percent, but we didn't fix or reform anything. We've got to fix our pensions, get spending in line, otherwise you're just throwing more money at the problem."
Sosnowski said that Madigan is so entrenched that "we probably won't be able to show him the door, but hopefully we will have more Republican legislators so we can reach compromise. That's all we need to reform spending and the way we operate." Democrats currently have super-majorities in both the House and Senate, rendering Republicans powerless.
Sosnowski's campaign took in $28,005 from July 1 through Sept. 30, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. Most of that money came from business political action committees or individual businessmen. His campaign spent $25,045 in the same period. Bodine's campaign spent $5,658 during that period.
Her campaign raised $10,843 from July 1 through Sept. 30, with most itemized contributions coming from union PACs. Since Sept. 30, she has received $1,000 from the Ogle County Democratic Central Committee and office space in Belvidere worth $2,350 from Poon & Le LLC.