Biss wins 9th state senate seat
State Senator-elect Daniel Biss chats with Kay Shammon of the Democratic Party Of Evanston at Prairie Moon Restaurant in Evanston. | Dave Kraus ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 9, 2012 6:21AM
Daniel Biss, D–Evanston, now represents the 9th Senate District in Illinois, after defeating Republican opponent Glenn Farkas on Tuesday.
With all 168 precincts reporting, Biss won with 64,909 votes (67 percent) to Farkas’ 32,495 (33 percent).
Before Election Day, Biss was the state representative for the 17th House District.
Farkas, of Glenview, owns a wealth management company.
Biss spent most of the night with supporters at a downtown Evanston restaurant, watching President Barack Obama slowly build a lead over challenger Mitt Romney.
Biss said his new legislative role as a state senator will change.
“I’m going from a bigger legislative body to a smaller one with a voice that allows me to better advance the agenda,” he said.
On getting pension reforms, he explained, “Again, in a smaller chamber like the Illinois Senate I have a bigger voice, but I won’t be sworn in until Jan. 9 so maybe pension reform can happen before then.”
During the campaign, the candidates believed a top issue facing suburban voters was public pension reform and how it impacted state finances.
Both candidates said a cash balance plan to ease the pension problem could work.
A 401(k) program would pool investments, yet give new employees a guaranteed minimum benefit.
Public employees would share the investment risk, rather than held entirely by the state.
“There still would be a safety benefit net for teachers, but the state would not bear the complete risk of investing,” Biss said, adding the current system required the state to pay benefits no matter how poorly its investments had performed.
“We should divide the risk between employee and the state,” he said.
With the state experiencing a $6 billion overall debt, Biss said officials must look at all options, including the collection of more revenue through taxes.
“We need a compromise. What’s alarming about the positions of Farkas and (presidential candidate) Mitt Romney is their hard absolutist approach. We’re trillions in debt and we can’t even talk about taxes?” Biss said.
On education spending, Biss said Illinois has sent less money to state universities today than in 1992, again blaming pensions.
“In every area, education has been cut because of pensions,” he said.
Biss also was against school vouchers.
“My vision of public schools is providing a quality education, regardless of where you live. Vouchers allow us to give up on that vision,” Biss said.
On Tuesday night, Farkas reflected on the campaign.
“People on the campaign trail told me to fix pensions, but after tonight and being about 30 points behind in the polls maybe not enough people heard our message. For the Democrats, the lines were drawn and it’s time for us step back and rethink things.
Biss said Illinoisans wanted “To be proud of their state again.
“We’ve made some big mistakes in our state, but we have great assets in history,” he said.
While a state representative, Biss served on the house committees of Higher Education Appropriations, Elementary and Secondary Education Appropriations, Bio-Technology, Consumer Protection, International Trade and Commerce, Personnel and Pensions and Small Business and Empowerment and Workforce Development.
The 9th District includes all or parts of Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Golf, Kenilworth, Morton Grove, Northbrook, Northfield, Skokie, Wilmette and Winnetka.~.