Competing for a Seat Downstate

Yard signs, TV and radio commercials tell us the election season is reaching a fevered pitch. One of the seats up for grabs is our local seat in the Illinois House of Representatives. The 96th District encompasses the west side of Naperville and part of Aurora. Dawn DeSart is challenging incumbent Darlene Senger for the seat.

Longtime Naperville resident and democrat DeSart might be new to state politics, but she’s served on numerous boards. She is a former journalist who believes her skills in front of the camera would give her an advantage as a lawmaker, even against an incumbent.

“My opponent is a freshman,” said DeSart. “She’s only been down there for a year and a half.”

DeSart currently serves as a board member for Indian Prairie School District 204. She believes her experience helping to balance the district’s budget would help her understand state budget issues.

“Being in a $13 billion deficit, businesses don’t want to come here,” said DeSart. “The state is not paying their debts; school districts across the state have not received their money. I think that detracts businesses from coming here. We need to keep the jobs here now.”

In addition to the state budget and job creation, DeSart also lists term limits and ethics in Springfield as her top concerns. As for why she wants to represent her hometown in Springfield: “I think a big part was reading the newspaper, watching the news, seeing what’s going on in Springfield,” she said.

“And saying ‘Wait a minute, there’s so much wrong going on down there. Why aren’t they doing this, what aren’t they doing that?’ And instead of looking at these things going ‘Why aren’t they, why aren’t they, why aren’t they?’ I thought ‘Wow I really have no reason to complain unless I stick my own neck out there.’”

DeSart’s running against incumbent republican Senger, who says her number one priority is also balancing the state’s budget.

“We’ve got some really tough things we have to do, and the number one thing we have to do is dig ourselves out and stick with the plan,” said Senger. “Anybody who does business with the state, they’re tired of the uncertainty ‘Are you going to cut us or are you not going to cut us?’ You can’t deal with that sort of uncertainty, so we really need to come up with a plan and it’s going to take some time.”

Senger says among her legislative successes, she is most proud of a bill that protects children from sexual material and solicitation through texting.

She says she also played a key role in attracting and keeping Navistar in DuPage County, which will create thousands of jobs.

“It’s that sort of stuff that makes you feel really good,” said Senger. “This job is stressful, it’s difficult, there’s a lot of need in this state, we’re doing a lot of things wrong right now in Springfield, but when you can add the little things such as Navistar and the rest, then you feel really good about your job, so that part I like.”

The two candidates say one important issue they agree upon is running a clean campaign that focuses on issues important to their constituents.


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