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Illinois Senate District 31, Republican Primary

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The questions

All candidates were invited to respond to questionnaires, although not all chose to participate. Click on a candidate's name to see the unedited response to each question.

Biographical information & experience
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    Jarratt
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    Leafblad
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    Neal
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    White
Jarratt
Birthdate: 3/2/1964
Occupation: OODA Strategies, Inc.
Marital status: Married
Spouse: Lisa

Education:

Virginia State University
B.S., Mathematics with a Concentration in Computer Science

Old Dominion University
Computer Science

Richard Bland College
A.S. Mathematics

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Lake Villa Republican Club
Chicago Informix Users Group

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

Precinct Committeeman since 2008

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

Lake County - Application Systems Analyst/Prog. Staff Specialist, 2003 - 2008
Lisle Township - Website build - OODA Strategies, Inc. contract

Leafblad
Birthdate: 10/11/1942
Occupation: Senior Consultant, Ambit Energy
Marital status: Married
Spouse: Diane

Education:

Attended Bethel University as a Music Major but did not graduate. Graduated fromGrayslake Central High School and Avon Grade School.

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

President of Highland Lake Property Owners Association
NAC, Rod and Gun Club
Vintage Thunderbird Club International

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

Lake County Board and Lake County Forest Preserves for a total of 16 years (1990-2002) (2004-2008). I have not been employed by any branch of government.

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

none

Neal
Birthdate: 7/8/1968
Occupation: Civil Engineer/Alfred Benesch & Co.
Marital status: Single
Spouse:

Education:

Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale - 1991
Masters of Transportation Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago - 1998

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Lions Club
Shriners
Navy League of the United States
Wetlands Research, Inc.
Newport Township Republican Organization

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

Yes - currently an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve Civil Engineering Corp attached to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 25

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

None

White
Birthdate: Did not respond
Occupation: Self
Marital status: M
Spouse: Dawn

Education:

Michael honorably served in the United States Air Force, Illinois National Guard and Air Force Reserve for a combined 22 years of service. Michael has both managed small businesses and owned his own business.  
AA degree, Kankakee Community College
BS Degree, Illinois State University
Leadership training, USAF

Some of his military accomplishments
Honor Graduate - USAF Leadership School
Americanism Award recipient
Participated in the Gulf War, and numerous exercises around the world

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

American Legion

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

United States Air Force, Service Member.

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

Campaign information
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    Jarratt
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    Leafblad
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    Neal
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    White
Jarratt

Campaign headquarters:
Website: http://LennieJarratt.com
Campaign manager:
Campaign budget: My budget will be what is required to win.
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.

Leafblad

Campaign headquarters: 5231 Washington Street, Gurnee, 60031
Website: Larry4Senate.com
Campaign manager: Douglas Booth
Campaign budget: For the primary, $30,000-plus. No budget is set for the General Election, which will be way into six figures.
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
My money comes from small donors. At this time, all but $1750 of my campaign money has come from my personal funds.

Neal

Campaign headquarters: 38933 Delany Rd
Website: www.NealforSenate.com
Campaign manager: Lauren Fleming
Campaign budget: We are not prepared to release our campaign's estimated budget for strategic reasons, but suffice to say we have a campaign plan and a budget that ensures our message will be heard by Republicans in this primary.
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.

White

Campaign headquarters:
Website: Www.MichaelForIllinois.com
Campaign manager:
Campaign budget:
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.

What are your top priorities for your district?
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    Jarratt
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    Leafblad
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    Neal
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    White
Jarratt

Fix the budget crisis so jobs can be created in lake County instead of crossing the border into Wisconsin.

Working to empower parents to better direct their child's education.

Leafblad

People cannot afford to pay their property tax bills. Since 1999, I have been innovating changes in the Lake County Property Tax Assessment process, which was inconsistent, arbitrary, hard to understand and sometimes vindictive. I was able to open up the process, make it transparent and create things such as Taxpayer Help Centers in various locations that enabled taxpayers to better understand the process.

We're not there yet. It will take fundamental change in the STATE law. That's why I am running.

We need repeal and reform of the Illinois Property Tax Assessment law.

Neal

Job Creation
Deficit Reduction/Balance the Budget
Cutting Taxes and Spending

White

Michael's top priorities for District 31 are to reduce government spending, mandates and regulations that inhibit the growth of small business, jobs and individual wealth.

What is your top priority for the state?
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    Jarratt
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    Leafblad
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    Neal
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    White
Jarratt

Restoring fiscal sanity to the budgeting process. The State needs to use FACT based accounting instead of the checkbook accounting currently used.

Leafblad

In a word, 'CUT'

Cut the pension thieves.
Cut the terms of office, thereby eliminating political corruption
Cut programs
Cut expenses
Cut borrowing
Cut spending more than we have
Cut sweetheart tax deals

Neal

Job Creation

White

Instead of increasing taxes and fees on the hard-working people of Illinois, develop better alternatives to reducing our state debt. Michael's top priority is to put State government on a fiscally sound path by curbing government spending and promoting pension reform. All leading to a better business climate.

For incumbents, please list your accomplishments. For challengers, what unique strengths would you bring to the job of state lawmaker?
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    Jarratt
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    Leafblad
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    Neal
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    White
Jarratt

Did not respond

Leafblad

As a member of the Lake County Board, I established a reputation of being a fiscal hawk with a very common sense approach to governing. Lake County was a debt-free county with a AAA Bond Rating, one of only a handful of counties in America.

I innovated an entirely new land planning process that involved the county and all its municipalities in a regional planning process that allowed all bodies of government to work together for a comprehensive growth plan for the county.

I brought CASA to Lake County (Court Appointed Special Advocates) who provide trained volunteers to work with kids and families involved in our court system.

I helped our forest preserves earn a reputation as one of the finest in America and supported the preservation of almost 30,000 acres of open lands for tomorrow's generations. (None of my primary opponents have experience in governing.)

Neal

I come from 20 years of experience in the private sector and am able to bring real problem-solving skills to address the jobs and economic problems facing the state. I offer fresh, ambitious ideas to solve these problems with transparency, common sense and fiscal responsibility.

Having served in the Navy Seabees, I've worked with individuals from a range of ages, cultures and backgrounds to solve problems in time-critical, high-pressure situations.

White

Michael's experiences as a service member, substitute teacher, business manager and an entrepreneur uniquely provide him with the integrity and creativity to put Illinois on the right path.
Michael White believes that hard working citizens, the foundation of Illinois, are dedicated and compassionate people who care about their state. They expect a government that protects individual liberties, serves all people equally and develops a budget that is free from political influence. Michael is committed to bringing these fundamental principles back to government with integrity, intelligence and innovation.

The state public employee pension system is severely underfunded and paying down the debt threatens to crowd out spending on core state services. Do you support reducing pension benefits not yet earned through a bill like SB512, which offers state workers three options for earning future pension benefits. Should police officers and firefighters be included in a reduced pension system?
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    Jarratt
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    Leafblad
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    Neal
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Jarratt

Yes, pensions for incoming employees needs to be changed to protect the pensions of the current employees and retirees. If it is not changed, there will eventually have to be hard decisions made that affect current employees.

Leafblad

I will support the options given younger and newer employees, while protecting the earned benefits of those already retired and nearing retirement. Police and Fire Service people should also be considered in the same fashion.

Neal

I believe some difficult decisions will have to be made in order to fund the state's public employee pension systems, possibly including reducing benefits not yet earned; however, with that said, the state has a Constitutional obligation to provide benefits to employees so the changes that are to be made need to be within the parameters of the Illinois Constitution.

White

Corruption, growing Illinois debt and state leadership refusal to spend within our means has lead to the underfunding of pension liabilities and the deterioration of "core state services".

If you don't support a bill like SB512, how would you deal with the state's unfunded pension liability?
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    ALL
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    Jarratt
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    Leafblad
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    Neal
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    White
Jarratt

Did not respond

Leafblad

The state has to get healthy financially and the legislature has to find a way to start making payments. But, it won't happen until the business community and the tax rates get cut.

Neal

Some ideas for dealing with the state's unfunded pension liability might include:
1) eliminate the 3% automatic cost of living increase for retirees, 2) require minimum 20-year vestment durations and 3) increase the retirement age from 55 to 65.

White

Michael supports fiscally sound and fair pension reform, provided it prevents the unconscionable inflation of pension benefits for a few select individuals.

Do you want the 2 percent point income tax increase to expire in 2014, as planned, or would you like to see the tax increase extended beyond 2014?
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    Jarratt
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    Leafblad
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    Neal
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    White
Jarratt

It should expire.

Leafblad

Cut the income tax when it expires.

Neal

Yes, the increase should expire by 2014, if not sooner, as the General Assembly promised when it was passed the tax increase into law. However, in order to ensure the expiration of the income tax increase, the state will need to drastically cut state spending. At the current rate of spending in Illinois, the tax increase will become permanent.

White

The people of Illinois were behind a temporary tax increase to address the State's unpaid bills and underfunded debt liabilities. At this point, it appears the State is unable to meet its commitment. Michael will not support tax increases that simply lead to more spending and fail to protect the wealth of Illinois citizens.

Do you support any changes to the corporate income tax rate? Do you support any other changes to the state's business tax structure?
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    Jarratt
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    Leafblad
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    Neal
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    White
Jarratt

Yes, I would work to institute a voluntary tax decrease.

Leafblad

Lower the corporate rate. And, apply it to all business to give confidence to the existing businesses in the state -- and, to attract new business. New business making profits paying taxes...plus new employees making money paying taxes is the only way out of this mess.

Workers Comp must also be repealed and replaced. It, along with gastly taxes are the main reasons business is pulling up stakes and leaving.

Neal

Yes. We need to roll back the corporate tax rate of 7.0% to 4.8% or lower in order to make sure Illinois can compete with more business-friendly states such as Wisconsin, Iowa and Indiana.

White

After the latest corporate tax increase, State leadership was forced to provide special allowances to certain businesses that threatened to leave Illinois. This damages the Illinois business environment by increasing the burden of businesses that are not considered worthy of a special deal and diminishes the stability required for economic growth. Michael will support changes to the corporate tax rate provided it stabilizes the business environment for all businesses.

What should the state government do to create a more favorable business climate and to promote job growth?
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    Jarratt
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    Leafblad
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    Neal
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Jarratt

Repeal the lame duck tax increase tax increase.
Stop increasing the burdensome regulations and fees on businesses.

Leafblad

See above.

At this moment, over 2,000 businesses have already left Illinois. Hundreds of thousands of citizens have moved, taking with them BILLIONS of dollars in tax base, upon which taxes are paid...

This must be arrested and reversed. Taxes are the one and only question.

Business WANTS to come to Illinois. Better transportation, better arterials, better infrastructure, centrally located in the country...with great living for families and great and wondrous recreation opportunities of all kinds.

It's our taxes and our government that stinks.

Neal

It is imperative that the state of Illinois creates a more favorable business climate in order to grow jobs and grow the economy. Some ideas such as reducing the corporate tax rate for large and small businesses and by providing incentives to employers who create new jobs, such as a $1,500 tax credit for each new employee hired.

Further advancing workers' compensation reform with components including 1) major contributing cause, 2) medical provider network, 3) reducing the medical fee schedule and 4) changing the rebuttable presumption for drug and alcohol.

Additionally, the state should review and minimize regulations on small and start-up businesses in Illinois. Not only do we want to keep our employers in Illinois, but in order to grow the economy, we must attract new business, and we can do so by eliminating barriers to entry for new small businesses.

White

A favourable business environment begins with a favourable government environment that works diligently to get spending under control and reduces regulations that stifle the growth of small business. If businesses and citizens see state government taking serious action they will respond by investing in Illinois.

Lay out your plan for paying the billions the state owes schools, universities, human service providers and others. Would you support borrowing to pay down those bills?
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    Jarratt
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    Leafblad
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    Neal
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    White
Jarratt

Open the books to a forensic audit. This will uncover the waste to allow changes to make a more efficient government.

Change the accounting system to the Generally Accepted Accounting Practices of FACT based accounting. This change will expose the true cost of each program so the unnecessary ones can be cut and the monies redirected to paying off bills.

Leafblad

I do not support borrowing.

Again. Business climate. Jobs. Prosperity.

CUTTING (see above) must be diligently held in place in government while busines goes through a recovery. Cash flowing into the coffers, bills being paid, pension liability going in the right direction...it's a decades-long project that will take some serious "tough love" on everybody's part.

Neal

The state is months behind in paying its bills, and in order to restore some fiscal responsibility in the state and enable the state to pay its bills on time, we need to balance the budget through spending cuts. Spending cuts of an average of 6% to 7% for each state agency or department over the next 5 years would allow the state to pay its bills in a timely fashion, and would eliminate the deficit and balance the budget.

I would not support borrowing to pay down these bills.

White

Fiscal discipline is the plan. The Illinois budget and growing deficit will require the teamwork of Executive Branch, Legislature and state workers to work in a cooperative spirit to develop a fiscally sound budget that eliminates our deficit. Together we will develop a long term strategy that controls spending, eliminates waste and increases transparency.

State legislative leaders are trying to give the General Assembly a role in negotiating contracts with state labor unions. What is your opinion of that?
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    Jarratt
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    Leafblad
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    Neal
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    White
Jarratt

I would be opposed to this. It would just open up the flood gates for more pay to play scenarios that already exist.

Leafblad

Assuming the legislative leaders are ethical...it is essential.

Neal

I believe the role of a legislator is to vote up or down on union contracts once they have been negotiated. It is the role of the Executive branch to sit down and negotiate a contract that protects the interests of taxpayers.

White

In order to have a balanced budget, it is necessary for the executive and legislative branch to be working on the same balance sheet. Prior to finalizing labor union contracts, the GA should be provided with the opportunity to review and accept or reject based on budget constraints.

The legislature has tried repeatedly to expand gambling in Illinois. Do you support expanded gambling in Illinois? In what form? Do you support a Chicago casino?
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    Jarratt
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    Leafblad
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    Neal
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    White
Jarratt

No, I do not support expanded gambling.

Leafblad

I hate the idea of balancing our state budget on the backs of gamblers.

The reality, however, is that it may be a matter of fact by the time I assume a position in the senate.

My main concern is what gambling does to the person who can least afford it. I am also very suspect that revenue gained from adding more casinos will grow at the same rate of new casinos and slots.

Bitter pill. I may have to swallow hard.

Neal

I do not support expanding gambling in Illinois and do not support a casino in Chicago.

White

Gambling may raise revenue for the casino industry and government, however it does very little to improve the wealth of Illinois taxpayers. Our priority should be on growth in manufacturing, agriculture, small business and entrepreneurship.

Would you seek any changes to the state ethics and campaign finance laws? Would you support capping what state party leaders can donate during a general election?
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    Jarratt
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    Leafblad
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    Neal
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    White
Jarratt

State Party leaders should be subject to the same laws as the citizens.

Leafblad

It's too bad we don't have ethical people in the first place.

That being said, we do need caps on what party leaders can donate. Too many strings. Too much influence on the legislator who owes their election to the leaders.

The reality is with a six-figure campaign budget, it's nearly impossible to raise the money from citizens.

I would favor a new system.

Neal

I believe that the ethics laws passed last session were a step in the right direction. However, it would appear that the contribution limits were designed to empower the Leadership committees of the four caucuses at the expense of rank and file legislators. I believe too much power is concentrated in the "four tops" and would be in favor of exploring ways to reduce that concentration through additional campaign finance reform and even leadership term limits.

White

Michael will support campaign finance laws that are equal for all regardless of party status. He maintains that because laws do not teach ethics, we need to focus on electing individuals who emulate "service before self."

Would you back a constitutional amendment to shift from a flat income tax to a progressive income tax system?
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    Jarratt
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    Leafblad
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    Neal
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    White
Jarratt

No

Leafblad

No

Neal

No

White

No

Do you have a plan to adequately fund schools and reform the property tax system that results in inequities?
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    Jarratt
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    Leafblad
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    Neal
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    White
Jarratt

We must make government more efficient and streamlined. These savings will allow monies to be prioritized back to education. The efficiency gains will also allow the reduction of property taxes since the state will fulfill it's mandate of funding the schools instead of forcing the burden being shifted to local property owners.

Leafblad

If there is to be a plan, it has to stay within the counties. There is danger in sending money to Springfield, which somehow ends up elsewhere.

My plan would have each district pay a flat fee, but with such disparity, how that would be determined would be the toughest chore. My senate district has some of the richest and some of the poorest districts.

Neal

It would appear from our budget mess that Illinois is not positioned to fund any budget priority adequately.

With respect to school funding, education funding since FY03 has grown from $5 billion to over $7.2 billion in FY12, and increase of 44% in the last eight years. If the state budget is to be brought into balance to avoid additional tax increases, then the State Board of Education must be a part of the solution. While I do not support cuts to our school funding, I do not believe we can talk honestly about additional funds in the midst of our budget crisis.

With respect to property tax reform, I would be in favor of re-evaluating the PTELL adjustment portion of the education funding formula.

White

A fiscally sound State is the platform for economic growth. Stable economic growth will generate more state revenue for education and hence will reduce the pressure on property taxes.

What is your view on gay marriage?
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    Jarratt
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    Leafblad
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    Neal
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    White
Jarratt

I am opposed.

Leafblad

I believe in marriage between a man and a woman.

Neal

I am against changing the definition of marriage from a union between one man and one woman.

White

A civil union is a legal contract between two adults, who agree to become life partners and share family, medical and financial benefits and responsibilities. Marriage is a sacrament between a man and a woman within the confines of religious belief.

The race
The candidates
Linwood "Lennie" Jarratt
Lawrence "Larry" Leafblad
Joe Neal
Michael L. White
The district
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