Harry Benton: 2022 candidate for Illinois House 97th District

  • Harry Benton is a Democrat candidate for Illinois House 97th District.

    Harry Benton is a Democrat candidate for Illinois House 97th District.

Updated 10/13/2022 8:30 AM


Party: Democrat


Office sought: Illinois House 97th District

City: Plainfield

Age: 35

Occupation: Ironworker, Ironworkers Local 444

Previous offices held: Plainfield Village Trustee


Q: What needs to be done structurally to make the legislature more effective? What is your position on term limits in general and for legislative leaders specifically?

A: Elected officials need to remember they work for the people, not the other way around. Many changes need to happen including real ethics reform, furthering transparency, and expanding trust.

I have spent a great deal of time going door-to-door throughout the district, being extremely responsive and accessible as a Plainfield Village Trustee and candidate, listening to the concerns and needs of the community. These conversations are the only way to create solutions and make sure their voice is heard.

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I support the new leadership term limits and would like to see that expanded, as long as they do not empower lobbyists and unelected insiders, and weaken our democracy. I am open to any decisions to create a better government that works for the people.

Q: Federal assistance has enabled the state to make important advances toward improving its budget. What will you do to ensure these advances continue when the federal aid is gone?

A: Illinois has earned credit upgrades from bond rating agencies, after paying down a backlog of bills from

Rauner's $17 billion in debt while also eliminating millions in interest payments, rebuilding the rainy day fund to more than $1 billion, prepaying pension obligations to reduce future costs. These efforts have lead to freeing up millions for services including education, senior services, health care, fixing infrastructure, etc.

The rating agencies made it clear they were not reacting to relief funds, but to the actions taken to manage funds.

The ongoing progress needs to be strengthened through smart budgets, cutting waste, and eliminating partisan games with budget. While also fighting get our fair share back from the federal government, Illinois being a payer state, unlike many of our neighboring taker states.


Q: To what extent are you happy or unhappy with the evidence-based model for education funding now in place in Illinois? How would you define "adequate" state funding for Illinois schools and what will you do to promote that?

A: The evidence-based funding model is based off every child getting a good education, while understanding the needs of each school/district.

Adequacy has varying degrees across the state based on the size of the district, access to local resources, regional factors, which all need to be taken into account.

Adequate state funds need to equitable for the taxpayers, especially in the 97th where property taxes are high. There needs to be relief from the state, instead of property taxes increasing forcing residents to pay more and more every year, with the state paying less.

I will help by creating tax credits for companies that produce good paying jobs in our communities and creating a long term tax base reducing the burden on property taxes. This also creates more income to for much needed educational funding, and strengthens local economies.

Q: Do you believe elections in Illinois are free and fair? What changes, if any, are needed regarding election security and voter access?

A: While the Supreme Court and so many states are trying to strip away freedoms, make voting access harder, and creating hurdles; Illinois seems to be moving in a different direction, one that takes into account the needs and interests of the community and making it easier for voters to vote early, by mail, and creating accessible polling locations.

We can expand on these steps by taking a look at the steps to further protect ballot access for eligible voters, how legislative maps are drawn, how campaigns are funded, expansion of funding for training and pay of election judges, poll watchers, strengthen the laws on intimidating voters, etc.

Lawmakers can go a long way to create confidence, by creating independent panels from the community to create equity and involvement in the voting process, along with trust and transparency. Another reason I go door-to-door to have conversations with the community about how to better serve as an elected official, to make their voice heard.

Q: How well has Illinois responded to Supreme Court indications that it considers abortion, gay marriage and other social issues to be state, not federal, responsibilities? What if anything needs to be done in these areas and what would you do to make your vision come to pass?

A: Illinois has done a lot better job than many other states around the country. The Supreme Court and extreme state policies are stripping away freedoms, basic human rights, and happiness from many in their communities, some of which they may be hypocritical of enjoying.

States are becoming the last line of defense, so now more than ever, it is crucial that we elect leaders to respect the rights of women and the LGBTQ+ community. I have and continue to work with advocacy groups to protect these rights, and have previously been endorsed by Personal PAC, Planned Parenthood, and Equality Illinois, and expect to be again.

After my wife and I struggled to conceive and needed fertility treatments, I discovered my own state representative voted against insurance coverage for fertility treatments, and reproductive health rights, along with LGBTQ+ rights. This election is crucial to protect our freedoms and rights.

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