Illinois state Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago)
State House Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) longs for the day when the mission in Springfield returns to serving the people of Illinois.
“Right now, one of the biggest problems I see is that everyone is all about themselves,” Caulkins told the Chambana Sun. “With every issue that comes up, it’s always about 'my neighborhood,' 'my district.' There’s just not a lot of concern for the state as a whole. It’s always about what 'I' can get.”
In Caulkins’ mind, the ongoing scandal involving longtime state Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago) is just one prime example. After more than 16 years in Springfield, Sandoval recently announced that he plans to retire at the start of 2020, walking away at a time when both he and the legislature as a whole are mired in controversy.
Illinois state Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur)
Sandoval was pressured into giving up his chairmanship of the Senate Transportation Committee after being implicated in a shakedown scandal in which he's accused of using his position for personal gain. His retirement announcement came on the same day the Chicago Sun-Times reported that he is also suspected of using his influence to land at least two of his relatives positions at the Chicago Transit Authority.
Sandoval is also known to have a son working in government relations for Pace, another state transit agency, and a daughter employed at ComEd, the electric utility company that was recently subpoenaed as part of the ongoing federal investigation targeting Sandoval.
“This is the Chicago way and this is what people downstate are most concerned about,” Caulkins said. “We need to be passing laws that stiffen the penalties for corruption and clearly define what is considered unacceptable behavior.”
If Sandoval is found to be guilty of the things he’s been accused of, Caulkins says he would object to the retiring senator being able to ride off into the sunset.
“It would be totally unacceptable for him to be able to just walk away with all his pension and benefits intact,” Caulkins said. “Yes, I would have a real problem with that.”
Caulkins also says the only way for Springfield to experience the kind of change it needs is for voters to finally take matters into their own hands.
“We need more people in the House and in the Senate willing to simply come and serve,” Caulkins said. “All these career politicians are setting up camp and pretty much being able to do whatever they want. If we can’t get term limits, we at least need to be able to limit the amount of time people can be in charge or in leadership positions.”