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Griffith challenges Hammond on party principles
Daily Ledger - 12/12/2017
Dec. 12--MACOMB -- Republican candidate for the 93rd District Joshua Griffith toured the area Thursday and Friday, speaking with potential constituents about issues impacting their lives.
Griffith, a business manager and military veteran from Abingdon, traveled to Avon, Cameron, Havana and back to Abingdon on Thursday for public appearances. Friday, he hit Colchester, Macomb and Rushville. Griffith told the McDonough County Voice he doesn't just see himself as running for state representative; he seems himself as running for "the people's seat." He has also called himself the "conservative candidate" going into the Republican primary in March 2018.
Griffith told the Voice during a Friday interview that he is an "everybody citizen" who is not a politician and has never run for office.
"I just talk to people as I would at my business," Griffith said. He is the production and marketing manager for Locke's Roofing and Siding in Galesburg.
"I listen to their stories. I listen to them. "This is the people's seat," he continued. "If I'm elected, I'm going to represent the people. What's going good? What's not going good?"
What's not going good?"
One of the things off the bat that Griffith states has not gone well was the increase by 32 percent in the amount of taxes applied to personal income as a result of the Illinois state budget passage. In broader terms, Griffith said incumbent Norine Hammond, R-Macomb, did not stand behind party principles when she voted in favor of final passage of the bill. Hammond has stated repeatedly that she voted along with other Republicans for passage due to the risk of public schools not opening in the fall and the dire straits in which the state's credit rating was placed, among other reasons.
Griffith told the Voice one of the biggest issues that prompted him to challenge Hammond in the Republican primary was the impact of the tax increase on his family and others and that Hammond did vote in favor of the bill passage.
"She asked for my vote," Griffith said, recalling how Hammond stood on his doorstep in Abingdon during the last election. She had handed him a card outlining her ideals.
"She said she stood behind the principles of the party. She handed me the card...and then she voted."
"I've knocked on over 1,500 doors myself when I was out petitioning. A lot of people feel their voices aren't being heard. They don't agree with the tax increase. They're just ready for change," Griffith said.
He emphasized with the budget passage comes a corporate tax increase. This, he said, could have an impact on the economy when it comes to job growth.
"It makes it harder for businesses to want to be here. We have to make it more business-friendly so businesses and manufacturing jobs are coming back into the state; not fleeing the state. I think we can do that if we build up our tax base once again. We can make Illinois a destination state so people are moving back in, and the people will be flourishing with that.
In terms of higher education, Griffith said when it comes to funding places like Western Illinois University, cutting things from the institution's budget is not the ideal way to address lower state funding.
"I'm 100 percent for education. I have a 12-year-old; his dream is to come to Western Illinois University," Griffith said. "To cut anything is not the answer. We have to look deeper into that budget and see where mismanagement is taking place. Obviously pension reform is something that has to be explored. I would like to see something along the lines of people coming into the state workforce -- going forward -- moving toward a 401K-style of self-managed plan where the state puts in its constitutional amount, and the individual will have control over their amount. It'll be there when they decide to move on or retire. I want to put the money that's coming into those universities into the classroom for those students. Every time we come down here (to Macomb), my son says, 'That's where I'm going to college someday.' I want to see this be a quality institution."
Griffith is a former sergeant first class with the Army. He had plans to make the military his career, but had to leave the service on medical discharge due to a neck injury. Services for active military and veterans is still a matter of major importance for him. While society has made a step in the right direction, Griffith said more can be done to provide services for active duty military personnel and veterans.
"Any veterans program is worthy of being recognized. Listening to the voices of the VFW; the American Legion...hearing what their needs are. Being open to what they are wanting to talk about is very important. Recognizing the soldiers who come back is something in the past -- like the soldiers in the Vietnam War coming back -- they weren't treated right. There has been a change in the mentality of society now. This is a step in the right direction," he said.
Gov. Bruce Rauner recently went crosswise with many Republicans when he earlier this fall signed House Bill 40 into law, a law that allowed Medicaid to pay for abortions regardless of whether the pregnancy occurred from rape or incest or if the mother's life is at risk. Hammond did vote against the bill, but it passed along partisan lines by Democrat majority.
"First thing, that's got to be repealed," Griffith said of addressing HB40. "I'm pro-life as it is -- womb to tomb -- I value life. I don't support abortion, let alone taxpayer funded abortion. That's got to change."
Firearms regulations and the Second Amendment have been eyed by states and the federal government from the perspectives of background checks, aftermarket parts such as bump stocks and recently the possibility for establishing national concealed carry. A recent bill introduced in the Illinois legislature to outlaw bump stocks, as those found on rifles used in the Las Vegas massacre, was defeated due to language legislators said was "overly broad" in its definitions and could be applied to more than just the bump stocks or aftermarket modification devices themselves.
For Griffith, who considers himself a staunch believer in the Second Amendment, the wording of the amendment itself indicates where government should stand on any further changes.
"I'm pro-Second Amendment. I believe our right should not be infringed. Any attempt is overreach of the government. It's a right; not a privilege," he said. When asked about background checks and access by the mentally ill, Griffith stated: "It's an overreach of the government when you say who should get them, and who should not. It's too big of a grey area for me. It's in the Constitution, and I stand on that. It says "should not be infringed."
Griffith considers himself a family man. He attends First Assembly of God Church in Abingdon with his wife and five children. He's the president of the A-Town Traveling Sports and is on a traveling baseball board.
"I'm just passionate about this state. I want my grandkids to be here. I want to fight for this state, so my kids can stay here," Griffith said after commenting he'd recently spoken with a man at his Abingdon event whose children were living out of state. "I want to see my grandkids and not have to fly on a plane or drive five or six hours to see them. I'm a family man; I'm devout. I coach my boys' basketball and baseball teams. I try to go to every choir concert or event that I possibly can. My family is important to me. I want to take those values and instill it across the 93rd so everyone can have the same fighting chance to have their family stay here, go to school here and plant roots here."
Reach Jared DuBach by email at email@example.com.
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