Lance Yednock, D-Ottawa, is running a campaign based on knocking on doors and meeting constituents “on their turf.”
He said it’s the way his mother campaigned while running for the school board and it’s the way he believes politicians should be getting their information on the district.
Democrat or Republican, he says he’s listening to them all.
“What most of them have told me is they want property tax relief,” Yednock said. “I think most of them, they want good paying jobs, to contribute to their communities and most of them are telling me the system has been rigged against middle-class workers and they want billionaires and millionaires to pay a more fair share.”
Yednock is currently seeking the 76th District seat and is running against Republican incumbent Jerry Long, of Streator.
Yednock spoke with editors at The Times on Friday in Ottawa.
Middle-class tax reform
Yednock said he understands constituents' concerns and decided to run after being frustrated with the current leadership. It’s his hope to introduce what he calls middle-class tax reform, which is meant to add fairness to the tax system and require more from higher earners in order to help those who have suffered under heavy property taxes.
“What we should probably consider is a property tax freeze in order to force the state to start paying more toward that,” Yednock said.
He added he’s not too worried that larger businesses or higher earners will depart the state.
“First of all, they’ve had it good. New York and California and the other states that the big business-right likes to ridicule have not seen a bunch of billionaires and millionaires leave their state,” Yednock said. “There are states around us that have higher income taxes on higher earners and we’re not seeing people pouring out of those states.”
Passing a budget and paying pension costs
Part of the reason why he believes some are departing the state is the instability created by the state’s past difficulty in passing a budget, adding state legislators unable to pass a budget shouldn’t be paid.
“I think we have to extend our hand in a bipartisan fashion,” Yednock said. “I’d make it a priority to say, ‘Let’s put our D's and R’s behind us and let’s just talk. Let’s talk about policies that will make Illinois a better state and let’s work that way.’ ”
Part of his focus would be on handling the looming pension crisis by either cutting back on state-sponsored programs or agencies if the budget is tight or looking for revenue either through new sources or asking higher earners to pay more in taxes. He adds it’s no different than middle-class families making budgets at home and creating a priority list.
“The worst thing is to do nothing and cut people out of retirement,” he said.
Uncertain on leaving current position
Regarding his current position as a business representative for Operating Engineers Local 150, he said he’s uncertain whether he would end his job.
He said it’d be a conversation he would later have if he was elected as state representative, but doesn’t see it being a conflict of interest if he were to keep working with them.
“If it’s legislation that’s going to help middle-class workers, help level the playing field and make it more fair for small businesses in this state, then I don’t know how it would be a conflict,” Yednock said. “But I guess if someone did point that out that it would be a conflict, then I’d certainly list to them.”
Uncertain on legalized marijuana use
He said has yet to make a firm stance on legalized, recreational marijuana use.
Yednock said he’s not specifically against its use, but he wants the time to reach out to local law enforcement agencies and health care professionals who would likely be dealing with the impact of its use on a daily basis.
Supports term limits
What he is certain about is term limits.
Yednock said he’s a big believer in “citizen legislators” rather than career politicians for any state office.
He believes a decade is enough time for one individual to hold office but is open to discussing alternative limits.
Supports raising the minimum wage
He also supports raising the minimum wage.
“I think we have to raise the minimum wage and start pushing toward that,” Yednock said. "Our economy is more of a service economy, and the minimum wage went further 30 years ago that it does now.”
He said $15 an hour seems to be the wage most are fighting toward and said it would need to slowly be pushed in that direction.
He said he wouldn’t be against hearing from smaller businesses that hire mostly high school students to see if exceptions can be made.
Yednock a card-carrying gun owner
Yednock said it’s a common misconception that all Democrats are out to “take my guns.”
He said he has a concealed carry permit and is a gun owner who believes everyone should be able to possess a gun.
As a representative of the 76th District, he said the needs of his constituents would differ from those in Chicago and his interests in office would reflect that.
“What they need up there is different from what we need down here,” Yednock said. "We have a culture of people who like to hunt.”
Expect him to continue knocking on doors
Yednock said he expects to continue to be accessible in office through creating advisory committees, holding regular meetings and said he was open to supporting town halls.
“I’m not afraid to face the public. I don’t understand why anyone who goes and runs for public office tries to keep themselves from talking to the public. That’s the basic fact of the job.”
But he said his favorite way to hear from the public will be walking down a neighborhood block and just knocking on the doors.
“That’s the way it used to be, I think, and that’s the way it should be going forward,” Yednock said.
“It’s not about telling you, the voters, what I believe. It’s you telling me what you think,” he added. “That’s what a legislator is supposed to be. He’s either a delegate or a trustee for his area.”