Patrick Windhorst running for Illinois state representative, seeks to address residents leaving state

By Claire Cowley, Staff Reporter

Patrick Windhorst is running as a republican for Illinois state representative. He said he seeks to address issues to make sure southern Illinois residents want to stay in state.

Windhorst spent his entire life in Metropolis, Illinois and is currently Massac County’s state’s attorney, a campaign website statement, said.

“Basically what compelled me to run, was I saw families and young people from our community picking up and moving out of Metropolis,” Windhorst said.

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Windhorst also said these residents would relocate across the river into Paducah, KY for better opportunities and standard of living.  

“Some of these people have ancestors going back generations who lived in southern Illinois,” Windhorst said.

Windhorst said this situation is not sustainable, if we continue to lose population as a region and as a state.

Windhorst also said a lot of the issues this region is facing are being dictated by decisions made in Springfield.

“The overall tax rate, the business climate and the way we fund education primarily through property taxes are things that are set by state law or policy,” Windhorst said.

Windhorst said these issues would need to be addressed in order for the region to make itself an attractive place to live and work.

Current state representative for the 118th district, Natalie Phelps Finnie, who is seeking re-election, said Windhorst says she raised taxes by $5.5 billion, which she said is a complete lie.

“There were no taxes increased this year, number one,” Finnie said. “Number two, what [Windhorst] is referring to is for a house resolution, which is a non-binding agreement that says we should consider what’s titled a progressive income tax.”

Finnie also said that is the same thing the district has on the federal level and 42 other states have this income tax or no tax at all.

“We’re one of only eight states that have a flat income tax, so this is not some crazy left wing, liberal agenda,” Finnie said.

Finnie said its very common in other states and federal government causing the wealthiest among us to pay a higher rate.

“That, I believe is extremely needed as we as the middle class are taxed to death,” Finnie said.

Windhorst said tax burden in Illinois is a problem, but encouraging businesses to start here, grow here, move here and education is also a component.

Windhorst said to make our education the number one funding priority in the state government regarding kindergarten through 12th and secondary education institutions.

“Right now, we’re losing a lot of our high school seniors that are going out of state for college, community college and university […] that is not sustainable,” Windhorst said.

Windhorst said we’re seeing this here, right at SIU where there is a decrease in enrollment.

“Some of the [responsibility] will fall to the Board of Trustees, the President and Chancellor to make efforts to make it appear more attractive,” Windhorst said.

Windhorst also said he is the local government representative for the Massac County Drug Awareness Coalition that collectively works on drug education and prevention.  

“We do have to address [that] a lot of our communities are facing a drug problem,” Windhorst said.

Windhorst also said nationally and even statewide we’ve known about the opioid crisis that is also existing in southern Illinois.

Gateway Treatment program executive director, Anna Jurich, said she thinks there are a lot of people with substance abuse and mental health issues that need treatment and support.

“The more funding that’s available for those individuals, the more likely they are able to get treatment,” Jurich said. “If they’re able to get treatment, they’ll return to a work status and be productive members in their communities.”

Windhorst said he does use Gateway in Carbondale and he understands that they have expanded their stays to 30 days, even longer than 60.

“Gateway of course is serving a large community in southern Illinois, sometimes we have to go to facilities in Paducah, Cape Girardeau, and even use some farther North,” Windhorst said.

Illinois state representatives represent an average of 108,734 residents.

Illinois legislators assume office the second Wednesday in January.

Staff reporter Claire Cowley can be reached at ccowley@dailyegyptian.com.

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