Longtime Darien resident Matt Mostowik entered the race for the 82nd District seat in the Illinois House with an agenda of change. He talks to Patch about his history on the District 61 School Board, improving the state's morale, and the fragile balance between meeting voter's wants and needs.
He's challenging incumbent State Rep. Jim Durkin.
Darien Patch: What kind of change do you think is in store for Illinois with this election?
Matt Mostowik: I think there are some very difficult decisions that are going to have to be made that previous elected officials have avoided. They've avoided them because they don't want to upset the electorate. They want to keep their job. But how can someone keep their job when they're not doing their job?
Darien Patch: What kind of change do you want to happen?
Mostowik: The line between wants and needs has become blurred. We've lost focus on what is needed and how we can assist those people who need our help, and what is wanted that should not be supplied from the state without further taxation.
If we want to dig the state out of the hole we're in, there's going to have to be a line between wants and needs. Needs must be taken care of by the state. Wants—it's going to have to be a decision. Do people want to pay more in taxes? A perfect example is that I incorporated in the town of Darien so I could get tree branch pickup and other advantages of being in a town. I'm paying extra in property taxes because I want the services of the town. That's what I want, so I'm paying for it.
Darien Patch: What are some of the things you would categorize as wants versus needs?
Mostowik: A need is something people can't do for themselves. A want is something they can do if they had to do. Leaf pickup on the streets: That's a want. You've got someone who needs medical care and can't afford it. That's a need. Education is a need. We have to decide that as a society. You have to take care of the needs and we have to consider the wants.
Darien Patch: Since even the needs have become overwhelming for the state in this economy, how do you prioritize them?
Mostowik: If you get rid of the wants, you have enough money for the needs. You just can't prioritize what we're doing now; you have to prioritize wants and needs. That's how you would prioritize.
Darien Patch: You've said in other interviews you support an income tax increase. How would you structure it?
Mostowik: My proposed plan would be to take the proposed increase and divide it up with 25 percent going to pay off our debt and the other 75 percent going for social services and education with a 10-year limit. After those 10 years, [the plan] can only be renewed through voter approval. The idea is to keep the money out of the legislature's hands—if you proportionally divide up everything to the departments that are screaming for it, then the allocation stays the same for the 10 years.
Darien Patch: With even schools in this high-income district struggling to meet No Child Left Behind, what would you do to help equip Illinois' schools to meet its standards?
Mostowik: By funding schools at the level that's needed and supplying technology. Technology is the greatest aid that you could ever give a teacher.
Darien Patch: How do you feel your background on the school board has prepared you for state office?
Mostowik: I'm aware of the bureaucracy that takes place to get something done. I understand how to cooperate. I understand that one person cannot change anything.
Politics have divided this state, and they are ruining this state. We must learn to work together to solve our problems. I've learned how to cooperate and do what's best for the community even though I sometimes disagreed originally. For example, I was very much against grade centers. I spent more than a year talking to other district board members and other district teachers to weigh the differences between community schools versus grade centers, and my research changed my mind. I found out that I can learn. Even though I was originally against it, I still did the research to find out which was better.
Darien Patch: Illinois has been battered year after year with government scandals. How would you try to heal citizens' disillusionment in their representation?Mostowik: Campaign finance reform was a good start. It needs to be completed. We have to stop the reason for corruption, and that's money. We have to stop the runaway campaign finance. We have to make our elected officials accountable for the money that they're taking in.
Darien Patch: If you win the seat, what would be your first action in Springfield?
Mostowik: I'd ask for a right to carry law followed by a castle defense amendment so you couldn't be sued if somebody broke into your house and you shot him. I'm a firm believer in the First and Second Amendments. Those are the two most important rights we have.
The 82nd District includes Western Springs, Burr Ridge, Countryside, Willowbrook and Lemont, and parts of Darien and Downers Grove. Patch also interviewed Mostowik's opponent, Rep. Jim Durkin. For more on Mostowik, read his Q & A with The Doings.