PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — State Rep. and Pekin Mayor Mark Luft has announced he’s running again for the Statehouse.
He joined WMBD’s Matt Sheehan for On the Record, which aired on Thursday, Feb. 23.
QUESTION: You were elected in November 2020 to serve as the 91st District’s State Representative. Now you’re looking for a second term. How do you think your first two years in the Statehouse went?
“It went great. Surprisingly, we did really well. We had a good freshman class that came in, so that helped a lot. I was able to pass my first bill, co-sponsored a little over 60 different bills. I enjoyed committee. I’m on seven different committees for the state,” Luft said. “I still enjoy it, and I’m glad to be there to move things forward, providing a much-needed balance for the state.”
QUESTION: Your bio on your website says your mission is to “achieve fiscal responsibility, promote positive ethical reforms, clean up Illinois, and improve quality of life.” What are a couple of things you’ve done in your first two years to work at that mission?
“When I came in, we were able to pull out term limits. It wasn’t exactly what we wanted, but we did get it done for leadership positions, which is the first step. As you know, in Springfield being a super minority, it’s difficult to take a full step. So we have to stay focused on those first baby steps to get to that goal,” Luft said.
“Which is why this election is probably the most pivotal and important. We have an extreme imbalance on the floor. 73-45. You need 60 votes to pass a bill, so that’s covered. And for controversial veto-override, you need 3/5 which is 71 votes and is covered too. So we’re in a position, being in the super minority, where no one really has to talk to us,” Luft continued.
QUESTION: Currently, you’re still the mayor of Pekin, where you were elected in 2019. If elected for another term in the Statehouse, will you leave the mayoral duties behind?
“I’ve been able to do both now because I have such a good team on both sides. We’ve had a lot of things going. When the State Rep. position came up, we took a hard look at the mayor’s position. I had taken an oath to the City, and I fulfill my oaths. I was willing to put in the extra work to make sure both were covered,” Luft said. “When I did get elected to the House, I gave back my salary as mayor, so I don’t get paid to be mayor. I do it for the benefit of the community.”
QUESTION: Some Republican lawmakers I’ve spoken with say they think pensions are Illinois’ biggest problem right now. Do you agree with that statement? And what do you think needs to be done to get pensions under control?
“It is an issue. The tier 2 has created a balance for moving forward. It’s the tier 1 that’s pulling the state down,” Luft said. “Several things are being looked at now. Maybe a buyout of the tier 1, which would take a huge burden off of the State and put that back in the perspective it’s supposed to be. There’s always the aspect of moving it over to a deferred program or a 401, and hopefully, we’re able to obtain that as time goes by. That’s a subject that we’re close to being on the same page on both sides of the aisle.”
Luft said his number one priority right now is going back to the law enforcement bill and proposing amendments.
“It’s created a lot of chaos,” Luft said. “Repealing some of it and putting it back in the balance it should be. We’ve lost 40 sheriffs out of 102 counties, if that tells you where we’re at.”
“Parental Repeal. (It was a) huge mistake for parents. That needs to be looked at again. Our landlords have taken a huge hit in this State. Our school district, mandates. A lot of those are in the court system now. We’re hoping we get a good pushback from the courts on that,” Luft continued.
He also wants the state to return to a balance when it comes to the legislature.
“It’s funny that we talk about the people who have left the state of Illinois. But last year on the floor for 21′, the continued bills that had been passed by the left-side, have really opened the door even more for people to leave this state,” Luft said.
Luft is running for Illinois’ newly-drawn 93rd District this year. Below is a picture of the areas inside the district within the yellow box.
He will be challenged by Travis Weaver in the Republican Primaries in June.