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State House: Nurse challenges state senator for 81st District rep

In wake report thMetrtrains were time 30 percent time during an early January cold blast state Rep. RSandack R-Downers Grove

In the wake of a report that Metra trains were on time 30 percent of the time during an early January cold blast, state Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove, said he's "looking for ways to avoid this in the future, because we know we’re going to have arctic

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Updated: February 27, 2012 9:44AM

It’s the state senator, an attorney, vs. the registered nurse in Illinois’ 81st House District. On March 20, Republican voters in Chicago’s southwestern suburbs will choose between State Sen. Ron Sandack and Deborah “Debbie” Boyle, R.N.

The newly created district includes half of the former 47th District and encompasses Downer’s Grove, Darien, Lisle, Woodridge, Westmont and Naperville. Sandack, who represents the 21st District in the state Senate, was appointed in November 2010 to replace Dan Cronin when he was elected DuPage County Board chairman. Sandack stepped aside in the newly drawn 41st Senate District, where he would have faced a (ahem) daunting primary challenge from Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont. His decision will likely earn him the tacit — if not overt — support of state party leaders.

There is no Democratic challenger.

Sandack, who maintains his job as an attorney with law firm Gaido & Fintzen, was a member of the Downers Grove Village Council until 2007, when he was elected mayor of Downers Grove. He held that position until 2011. Several online wags have theorized that Boyle, a moderate who has nevertheless been endorsed by outspoken conservative activist Dan Proft, is little more than a pawn in Proft’s attempt to derail Sandack’s campaign; Sandack defeated Proft friend and Downers Grove Republican Chairman Brian Krajewski in the 2007 mayor’s race.

Boyle, who has worked as a nurse in the Loyola University Health Systems for 24 years, is vice president of the District 99 Board of Education. That term would end in the spring of 2013, a few months after she would take office in the state House. Last fall, Boyle was quoted in the Downers Grove Reporter as saying that her school board duties would trump her job as state representative.

Boyle, who did not return the candidate questionnaire, has been endorsed by the Downers Grove Township Republican Organization. According to her campaign website, if elected, like Sandack, she would decline the health care and pension benefits afforded to state legislators. Sandack has refused those benefits in his current position, as well. She also pledges to reinstate the death penalty for the “most heinous criminals.” Like her opponent, she supports Senate Bill 512, which would create a three-tier pension system for current public employees as an incremental step towards solving Illinois’ pension crisis. She wants to abolish legislative scholarships and eliminate government favoritism and “advocate for a level playing field” for all businesses.

Sandack, a member of the Illinois and DuPage Bar Associations, the Downers Grove Area Chamber of Commerce and the Order of the Moose, provided clear and concise — occasionally a bit too concise — responses to the candidate questionnaire. He underscored his support for pension reform, strict term limits, eliminating government waste, including dismantling the “bureaucracy” of local school boards.

The candidates, without any apparent irony, share a deep distrust — even dislike — of politicians. Sandack began one response in his questionnaire this way: “Serving in the General Assembly is not my career . . . and under any circumstances it won’t be.”

Meanwhile, Boyle says things like, “I’m not a politician; I’m just Debbie from Downer’s Grove.” Her career as a nurse takes a front seat in the campaign: Supporters frequently cite a 2009 Harris poll that named nursing the country’s fourth most respected profession, while attorneys ranked 13th. Sandack, it is inevitably noted, received his law degree from DePaul.

There is one area where Boyle simply can’t compete with Sandack: Twitter. According to the Peoria Journal Star, Sandack boasts the most prolific tweeting record of any Illinois elected official, with well more than 8,400 posts to his name. In what could be perceived as an asset or a weakness, Sandack often tweets several times an hour. Meanwhile, Boyle’s Twitter feed was not updated for more than a week, and her campaign website was unchanged for more than 10 days.

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