State Rep. Mike Marron, R-Fithian, is seeking re-election in the 104th representative district of the Illinois General Assembly against Democrat Cynthia “Cindy” Cunningham of St. Joseph.

The Commercial-News sent questionnaires to the candidates for the Nov. 3 election.

Marron, 44, is married to Brandy and they have one daughter. Education: Armstrong High School; Bachelor’s degree in Ag Business, Murray State. Current employment: Marron Farms. Previous political experience/organizations involved with: County Board Chairman from 2014-2018; Illinois Soybean Association Board of Directors from 2011-2016; and Supervisor of Pilot Township from 2009-2011.

Cunningham, 54, is married to Keith, and they have three children. Education: Elk Grove High School; B.S., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Current employment: President, Cobalt Creek Consulting and Management Services, Inc. Previous political experience/organizations involved with: Immediate past president and current advocacy chair, Illinois Adult Day Services Association; Legislative Chair, Illinois Association of Community Care Program Home Care Providers; Member, Illinois Older Adult Services Advisory Committee; served on St. John Lutheran Church Council; Sunday School teacher, St. John Luther Church, Royal; served as a volunteer firefighter/EMT for Ogden-Royal Fire Protection District; Girl Scout leader.

1. Why did you decide to run/seek re-election to this office?

Marron: It is truly an honor to serve the 104th as your State Rep. I feel like I have gotten several significant things done for the district, but there is more of that to do. I know that I have the ability and relationships in Springfield to accomplish a great deal more in the next two years.

Cunningham: During the two years I spent running for office before the 2018 General Election, I knocked on a lot of doors, and sometimes I had to step across holes in the porch to get to those doors. Sometimes I would see that they had patched their windows with socks and t-shirts and their roof was covered with a tarp. Some people invited me into homes that had no insulation, and you can see there was no insulation because there was no plaster or drywall. That’s how people in our community live. I had no idea of the depth of the poverty that we live next door to, and I don’t see anything being done to alleviate it. There’s a lot of misery, but there’s not a lot of action being taken to alleviate that misery. We have one of the 10 poorest legislative districts in the state, and that’s just a shame. The people that I met, they’re not bad people. They’re good people. But it’s hard to pull yourself up by your bootstraps when you don’t even have a bootstrap. I ran again because those people are definitely worth it.

2. What do you consider to be the most important issues concerning this office?

Cunningham: Taxation is a big issue. The last round of taxes that my opponent voted for were very unfair to the people of the 104th District. There are a lot of rural people, a lot of small business owners and a lot of commuters that have been hurt by the gas tax that Marron voted for. We own trailers out here in the country to move our hay around and move equipment around. Contractors and other business owners also own multiple trailers to do their work. The taxes on those trailers went up $100. My opponent voted for that tax as well as many others. And he has done nothing about much needed property tax relief. I would not vote for a tax that was going to hurt my own district the way that the last one has.

Marron: The single most important issue facing the state is ethics reform. Our state will not move forward and recover financially until Mike Madigan is no longer Speaker and we have adequately cleaned up the corruption in state government.

3. What do you want the public to better understand about this office? What are challenges and how do you overcome them?

Marron: The challenges that are hardest to overcome involve making sure our area of the state has a voice and that we do not get shortchanged because of Chicago. We overcome them by building strong partnerships in Springfield that can benefit our area and standing strong against the issues that are not in our interest.

Cunningham: I think what the public doesn’t understand about the office of state representative is that work only gets accomplished through the cooperation and good will of the people that you work with, including people that the state representative may not like. And the challenge of working with people to achieve a desirable outcome has been a big challenge for this office for many years. Yelling at public officials on social media may be fun and draw a lot of attention, but it doesn’t build a bridge to work with people on solutions. In fact, it alienates them and makes them less likely to work with the person creating the drama. I would overcome that barrier with kindness and understanding. The first step in problem solving is in seeking understanding and that is done by listening. With a full understanding of an issue, it is possible to work with the partners to develop solutions. So, while you won’t see me on social media calling anyone names or demanding solutions, you will see me quietly engaging with the people who make government work, to make it work for the people of the 104th District.

4. What qualifications do you think make you the best candidate for this office?

Cunningham: I am best qualified because I have a wealth of experience as a business owner, as someone who creates businesses that create jobs for a living, as someone who builds coalitions to make positive changes for our state, and as someone who has been working with the legislative process for the last 20 years as an advocate for home and community-based services for seniors. Add to that experience, my compassion and kindness for all people. Given the times we are living in, we all need and deserve kindness and compassion. Illinois is going to need leadership that knows how business works, who can create jobs, and who can be kind and build the coalitions that we need to help bring us out of the public health crisis and the economic situation that crisis created. My opponent has a history of voting for taxes that hurt the district and creating drama on social media that alienates leadership rather than builds a bridge to leadership to help our district. He seems much more motivated to please big money donors who can fund his move to his next public office than he is in using his current office to benefit the people who elected him. I am running for state representative so I can serve the district.

Marron: I have a strong track record of getting things accomplished from my service in Pilot Township to my time in Vermilion County, and now in Springfield. In my time, we acquired a new home for Vermilion County government and we cut county expenses. On the state level, I’ve worked with my colleagues to pass the Coal Ash Pollution Prevention Act, fix broken infrastructure, and get a casino license for Danville.

5. Additional comments and information.

Marron: It is very humbling to serve you in Springfield. I make it my mission to know how everyone in the district thinks and feels about the issues of the day and to give you a strong voice at our state capitol. I respectfully ask for your vote to be reelected to the office of State Representative.

Cunningham: If I am elected state representative, I will serve everyone in the district, regardless of party.

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