Pictures: Map of the 24th District (left) and Republican candidate Andy Kirchoff (right).
By Rich Bodee
Political season is upon us and in a few weeks we will be electing our newest batch of representatives from each political district.
Two candidates are Republican Andy Kirchoff, who is running against Democrat Elizabeth “Lisa” Hernandez for the Illinois 24th District House seat.
Typically, an Illinois state representative will represent around 108,000 residents in their district. The 24th District encompasses much of Berwyn and Cicero, as well as parts of Riverside and Brookfield.
Although Kirchoff has steep odds, he did get a boost from the Chicago Tribune, which endorsed him on Oct. 3, saying, “He’s in a tough race in a Democratic district, but he would be a much more engaged lawmaker than the incumbent.”
The incumbent, Lisa Hernandez, has been a state lawmaker since 2006 when she defeated Michelle Chavez in the Democratic primary. Since then, she has run largely unopposed, except for the 2012 Democratic primary when she defeated both Neftalie Gonzalez and Robert Reyes. She has never been challenged in a general election until this year.
Before that, Hernandez worked for the Cicero Public School District for 17 years and as a Senior Policy Advisor to former Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn.
On the other hand, Andy Kirchoff was born and raised in Berwyn and, at the age of 27, decided to make his first run for political office. Political experience, he says, is not always a positive.
“As far as experience, at this point, experience in Springfield is not the kind of thing that voters are looking for,” he said.
Kirchoff, who has been dubbed by some politicians and voters as “a non-Republican, Republican,” has an unconventional background and approach to political issues.
“I have various differences between what I believe personally and the [Republican] party’s platform. At the end of the day though, I’m running as a Republican because ultimately, I believe in what the party stands for, whether that be individual liberties, or the belief in human rights for all people, or a vibrant pro-growth economy. Despite my differences from the party on various issues, that doesn’t change the fundamentals.”
One of those differences is about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“Since day one, I have been on-record as a ‘Never Trump Republican.’ During the primary I was a John Kasich supporter. For me, as someone who is running as a public servant, Donald Trump is blatantly and unquestionably the antithesis of that. It’s not possible for me to support him,” he said.
Kirchoff also included that he believes his opinion of Trump is “shared with the rest of the 24th District.”
Now, a large section of the 24th District is in the 3rd Congressional District, which has gone to a democratic presidential candidate every election since 1992 when Bill Clinton became president.
As far as the state of Illinois, Kirchoff, like many other candidates in districts all across the state, has made budget reform one of his top priorities, if he is indeed elected.
On the budget, Kirchoff had this to say, “The reason we have had such high property taxes, the reason why our social services are so poor is that we have had really bad budgetary decision and some of them have happened even before I was born.”
Another, perhaps bigger, hot button issue in the Chicago area is violence and the potential threat of Chicago’s violence spilling over into the suburbs.
On Lisa Hernandez’s website, Staterephernandez.com, under the “About Elizabeth” tab, you can learn about all her initiatives, positions, and accolades. One of her top legislative priorities during her tenure “[has] been to crack down on gang violence and crime.”
Everyone knows that this year in Chicago has been bloody. In fact, both CNN and the Chicago Tribune said the month of August was “the most violent month in 20 years.”
On this issue, Kirchoff sees a couple of problems.
We are dealing with a very complicated, multi-faceted problem that will require more than just a ‘one-size fits all’ solution,” he said. “In terms of gun control, I favor a court-ordered removal of fire arms for families ‘in a crisis,’ even as someone who supports second amendment rights.”
Now, as far as the campaigns go, Hernandez does have a significant amount of money being pumped into her campaign, unlike Kirchoff. According to the State Board of Elections website (elections.il.gov), Kirchoff’s total amount of political contributions is $2,793.04. To put that in perspective, Hernandez had one donation alone for $3,000.00, and she has many more just like that.
To this Kirchoff said, “Money can’t buy you support. Money isn’t the object, reforming Illinois is, and that’s why I am running. The support of the people beats any special interest group.”
Hernandez did not respond to repeated requests for comment.