But Elburn lawyer Dave Richmond believes his six years working as local district director of U.S. Rep. Denny Hastert’s constituent relations will set him apart from others running in the 50th District primary.
Top notch constituent services will be a top priority to Richmond. He’s especially proud of the work he did in Hastert's office uniting families while cutting through red tape to expedite legal immigration and international adoption cases as well as acquire passports.
“Constituent services were my bread and butter,” Richmond said. “No one running in the 50th has more knowledge about how to take care of those kinds of problems than I have. From day one of being elected, I would be ready to go, with no learning curve.”
With so much experience in a congressional office, why not run to fill his retiring boss’ seat instead of filling a state rep vacancy?
“I saw Denny Hastert’s schedule of flying back and forth, week after week, and it’s just not conducive to raising a family,” Richmond, 45, married with five children, replied. “Maybe sometime in the future, but not now.”
Richmond said right now he's focused on hearing what local residents are most concerned about and finding viable answers.
“We’re hearing transportation, schools and taxes are the issues our constituents are most interested in,” Richmond said. Getting money to the district to pay for roads will be one of his top priorities, and one of the first projects would be widening the district’s major access, Rt. 47, to four lanes. The district’s roadways have suffered over the past few years, he said, because the area has grown so dramatically and because the governor couldn’t be trusted to send federal funds back to former Speaker Hastert’s home 14th CD’s area roads.
Richmond said Speaker Hastert would often express frustration with the governor because millions of federal dollars the congressman fought to bring home would be spent in places other than the Speaker's home district.
“The money would be sent to Chicago, or somewhere else,” Richmond said. “We couldn’t count on Blagojevich to use the matching state funds in this district."
That’s why the Speaker began to designate federal funds for specific capital needs such as local bridges and roads, which became known as the controversial “earmark" projects.
So how would that funding dilemma be handled differently for a freshman Republican state rep working with an unchallenged Democratic state legislature majority?
“If you don’t care who gets the credit, you can get a lot done,” Richmond said. “With the Democrats in control, you have to check your ego at the door,” he said, when negotiating to get new roads and schools in Republican areas.
As for his opponents in the 50th District’s GOP primary, Richmond would only say that Aurora’s Terry Hunt was a nice guy whose lack of involvement in local politics would not provide needed leadership to strengthen the GOP. He said former police chief Tony Graff’s main concern is law enforcement. And about the only woman in the race, Kay Hatcher, Richmond would say only, “Kay Hatcher . . . I’ll just leave it at that.”
Richmond suggests that while gambling isn’t the state's most dependable revenue source, he was open to the 10th casino license being used to pay for major capital projects.
He disagreed with the governor’s plan to provide free CTA rides for seniors.
“That plan has no means testing for seniors,” he said. “A senior with a huge pension and benefits could ride for free.”
Richmond describes himself as a social conservative and said he opposes abortion, but allows exceptions for rape and incest victims; he opposes embryonic stem cell experimentation and supports parental notification before abortion on minor girls; he describes marriage as between a man and a woman only and he is against mandates for health care.
“The more we place mandates on health care system, the more expensive the policies get, the less people can afford them,” he said. “We don’t need to mandate the kind of coverage health care companies offer.”
He also voiced concerns about state campaign finance laws and no-bid contracts.
“It’s not just what the law says about campaign finance ethics, it’s what the public’s perception is,” Richmond said.
Richmond veered around revealing what he expected to spend on the four-way GOP primary, but did make note that his old boss, Denny Hastert and his wife Jean, would be hosting a Richmond fundraiser January 30. He also hinted that Hastert would soon be endorsing him for the 50th State House district.
Richmond’s political resume is what he wants people to think about when they go to the 50th District’s polls GOP next month, he said.
A U.S. Coast Guard veteran, a small businessman, a family man, an attorney who worked his way through law school and a person experienced in handling complicated issues, Richmond is confident the people of the 50th State Rep district will choose him February 5.
More on Dave Richmond at www.electrichmond.com.