Illinois candidates for representative in the 115th district participate in debate

By Madison Taylor, Staff Reporter

UPDATE: Corrections were made to this article on 10/5/2020 at 7:22 p.m.

Randy Auxier and Paul Jacobs, candidates for representative of the 115th district, participated in a debate via Zoom on Sept. 30.

This event was moderated by Dorcy Prosser of the Jackson County League of Women Voters and sponsored by their organization and the Carbondale Public Library.

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Auxier, from the Green Party, is a professor of philosophy and communications studies at SIU.

Auxier is author and editor of over twenty academic books.

His opponent, Paul Jacobs from the Republican Party, has been an optometrist for almost four decades.

Jacobs graduated from Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee.

Prosser: What distinguishes you from other candidates?

Auxier said he went to school during the desegregation of public schools and that had a strong effect on him.

“I think the difference is between me and Mr. Jacobs, it will be evident enough as time goes on. I do consider myself a progressive conservative but that’s in the very broad conservative,” Auxier said.

Jacobs introduced himself as the Republican nominee for state representative. 

“I have been an optometrist for nearly four decades and have had my first winery for almost twenty-five years. I’ve had other successful businesses and have created hundreds of jobs for Illinoisans,” Jacobs said.

Prosser: Given the significant economic impact of SIU, what are your strategies to preserve and promote this vital economic engine?

Auxier said he has a few ideas on how to keep consolidation in the Illinois university systems.

“I believe the turnover and leadership position at SIUC has been terribly detrimental to not only the morale on campus but getting any type of firm plan in place to lead this university forward,” Auxier said. “I’m very optimistic about the current leadership and faculty […] and I think as a state legislator, I can do a lot to work with the leadership at SIUC going into the future and what happens with higher education in Illinois.”

Jacob said he’s not too optimistic about SIU’s future.

“The way they approach everything is cuts. They cut across the board because everybody wants to be fair but they need to go where everyone’s making money. They’re making money in law, they’re making money in automotive and aviation. They need to not cut those parts when they begin to cut back,” Jacobs said.

Prosser: What can the legislature do to combat the opioid and meth crisis?

Jacobs said he doesn’t think the legislature can do much without family values.

“We have to realize that we have addictive personalities in every family,” Jacobs said. “The war on drugs many times is said well, it’s not working, it’s not working because we just have just as many people as in the penitentiaries now as we did when we first started the war on drugs.”

Jacobs said the way to combat this issue is with recovery systems like Gateway that use counseling and rehabilitation.

Auxier said he shares Jacobs’ stance on this issue.

“The big pharmaceutical companies that are very well trained have a role,” Auxier said. “I think that going after the doctors is not the best idea but going after big pharmaceutical companies is the better idea.”

Auxier said treatment is preferable to incarceration, but some people’s addictions are stronger than the incarceration deterrent.

Prosser: What is your position on the bill that was passed by the Senate last year to enact permanent daylight savings time? Would you favor permanent daylight savings time, permanent standard time or continue as we have with the twice yearly clock changes?

Auxier said he would rather use permanent standard time because he likes getting up at dawn.

“I would say permanent Daylight Time is still going to have you getting up in the dark in the winter for no reason that I can figure out. I prefer permanent standard time pretty much since I keep getting up at dawn every day,” Auxier said.

Jacobs also said he would rather have standard time.

“I keep getting up at 5 every morning with no alarm. I think it’s hard on me to change with the fall when the springtime changes it’s very difficult takes about a week or two to get used to so I could just go through the year with Standard Time,” Jacobs said.

Prosser: This is a chance to talk about something you feel strongly about and why.

Jacobs said he thinks regulations are terrible.

“With my winery 25 years ago, when we made 10,000 gallons of wine, we were taxed at 18 cents a gallon. […] Seven years into it, all of a sudden that tax went to 79 cents a gallon,” Jacobs said. “We have too many regulations and way too many taxes. We need to cut taxes and decide where to spend the money.”

Auxier said it was important to say he’s not a Democrat or Republican.

“If you send a Republican or Democrat to the state house, they’ll be a part of a caucus that likes to work in lockstep, both sides. I think I can go up there and listen to you and say what you think. I don’t have to agree with anyone,” Auxier said.

Prosser: Final closing remarks

Auxier said he wanted to thank everyone for putting the event together and sending him an invitation.

“Thank you for the excellent work that you do and encouraging people to cast an informed vote and to vote. The second thing is I’m awfully pleased at the stability of this conversation,” Auxier said.

Jacobs said he appreciates developing in southern Illinois with his business and winery and thanked the League of Women Voters for inviting him also.

“I’m here to bring back the state. I want a balanced budget, I want to reduce expenditures and stop tax increases. That has to be fixed so we can all enjoy your retirement and remain here in Illinois,” Jacobs said.

Staff reporter Madison Taylor can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @taylorm08.

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