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19th District Slate

by CYRYL JAKUBOWSKI

Real estate attorney Robert Martwick is facing Chicago police officer Sandra Stoppa in the March 20 Democratic primary, hoping to take over the 19th Illinois House District seat held for 16 years by retiring state Representative Joseph Lyons.

Martwick, who served as a Village of Norridge trustee for 12 years and a Norwood Park Township trustee for 4 years, said that he wants to be involved in state government in order to help create jobs, fix the budget and prosecute corruption.

"I'm running because I am motivated by the fact that our state is in an absolute crisis, and it is important for everyone to step up and get together to solve these problems," Martwick said. "I think that I really can make a difference, and I want to be a part of constructive change in Illinois. We need common-sense solutions, and this is the first step."

Martwick, age 46, said he wants to close loopholes that allow corporations to avoid paying taxes and to use that money for incentives tied to creating jobs in the manufacturing sector and helping small businesses.

Martwick, who is a partner at the law firm Finkel Martwick & Colson, said he wants to sponsor a law that would allow courts to confiscate salaries, pensions and campaign funds of politicians convicted of corruption. He also wants the state to conduct a line audit of the budget to eliminate waste and to force the state to prioritize spending on important issues such as pensions, education, health care and infrastructure.

"We have some tough choices to make down in Springfield, and we have to make choices that are not politically (motivated)," Martwick said. "I am running my campaign as a total independent. I have funding from friends and people who truly believe in what I am doing."

Martwick disputed the charge that if he is elected he would be beholden to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and that would never vote against him. "That's one of those negative strategies that people are using against me . . . I intend to run my campaign independently and I have called him and told him that," he said.

Martwick is the son of Norwood Park Township Democratic Committeeman Robert Martwick and the slated party candidate.

Martwick said that he has been active in local government and that understands what needs to be done for the state. "I've been active in my community," he said. "I've run before in other arenas, and despite the fact that I was a trustee in Norridge for 12 years, I have made some strong connections in other communities and with other community leaders."

Martwick lost races against former state senator Walter Dudycz in 1996 and county Commissioner Peter Silvestri in 2002.

"We have hard days ahead in Springfield and we need a common-sense voice down there," Martwick said. "I see real opportunity in our state, and while it may not come today, we have to lay the groundwork for it to come tomorrow."

Martwick said that he has an advantage over Stoppa in both political experience and in funding. "I have more experience with running campaigns," he said. "She has raised $3,000 and I have raised $120,000. We will have six district mailings."

Stoppa, age 39, a mother of four and a 14-year police department veteran, said that she represents middle class families. She said she wants to fight to reduce taxes and control spending and to reform the tax increment financing program by returning funding to schools and public safety.

"I'm running because he is supported by the machine," Stoppa said. "I want somebody to represent the middle class down in Springfield. I'm running as an independent Democrat, and I don't owe anybody anything, and I think we've had a positive response to that."
Stoppa said that she would work to reduce wasteful spending and that she would support allowing a casino in Chicago. She also said that she would not take a state pension.
"The 19th District is very family oriented, and I think that people respond and relate to me," Stoppa said. "I go door to door after I get off work as a police officer, and the most common thing people are concerned about are property taxes and their children's education.

"I would like to eliminate the culture of continued raising of taxes. We are the fifth largest economy in the nation, and we are on the verge of bankruptcy. Taxpayer money is not being spent well down there."

Stoppa said that she has voted Republican in the past because she supported the views of the individual candidates. She said she is pro-choice and that she supports the right to bear arms.

"I voted both ways in the past, but that's because I vote for a candidate when I vote and not along party lines," Stoppa said. "They are making me look like I'm a Republican candidate, which I'm not. I voted for certain candidates because I believe in the right to bear arms . . . I'm an independent Democrat, not a regular Democrat."

"My campaign is very low-budget, and I definitely don't have the donors that my opponent has," Stoppa said. "The people who donate to my campaign they usually give $50, and I end up spending it on signs . . .
I'm not the one who is living a Republican lifestyle."