Two of the four candidates in the 7th District state rep race appeared Feb. 25 at the Citizens United in Forest Park-hosted debate at the Forest Park Park District building. Rory Hoskins and Princess C. Dempsey showed up, but candidate Emanuel “Chris” Welch sent his regrets by email the day before, and Beyonca Johnson did not return phone calls, said Mary Rueda of CUinFP.

Moderating was DePaul University student and former commissioner candidate Matt Walsh. In the audience among a crowd of around 30, were former commissioners Theresa Steinbach and Marty Tellalian and Proviso Township District 209 school board member Theresa Kelly. Both candidates answered written audience questions.

Hoskins has been a social worker, worked in a government economic development agency and worked in a private development firm. He’s been elected twice to the Forest Park Village Council. He coaches soccer and is a law student. “I live a couple blocks from here,” he said.

Dempsey has owned a business since 1980, worked at CEDA in Oak Park, worked as a dispatcher for the Bellwood Police Department, is a school board member at Lindop School in Broadview where she serves on the technology committee. She also is a third-degree black belt. She ran for 7th District state representative once before against Karen Yarbrough.

Jobs

When asked about job creation, Hoskins touted his experience of six years with an international development firm, KPMG LLP, helping to pick sites internationally for development. He also called for expanding the Maywood Enterprise Zone in the 7th District. Dempsey said she had organized the first job fair in Broadview. She claimed that 65 percent of the participants got jobs through the job fair.

Taxes

Hoskins said he would propose a progressive income tax to broaden the tax base in the State of Illinois, one of only eight states that have flat-rate income taxes. “Taxes are what you pay for a civilized society,” he said.

Dempsey said “I’m not in favor of any tax increase.” She advocated tax incentives instead that would attract business to the 7th District.

Gay marriage

Both candidates said they favored gay marriage, which Hoskins referred to as “equality in marriage.” Dempsey said “It’s your house. It’s your choice.”

Illinois pension crisis

When asked about the state pension crisis, Hoskins said he favored a less-generous pension plan for new state employees going forward. He also proposed narrowing the pay ranges and pensions for appointed positions.

Dempsey used the pension question to take a shot at the absent Chris Welch, saying that he was endorsed by unions for which he negotiated contracts. She said she attended D209 board meetings regularly and complained that the high school sophomores and juniors students in Proviso Township have “seventh- and eighth-grade books.” She also pointed out that the State Board of Education had stepped in to oversee D209 finances and “a janitor makes more than a teacher does at District 209. The current board president (Welch) needs to step down.”

Reform

Hoskins proposed ending legislative college scholarships to state schools, which he said had been abused. Dempsey proposed term limits on state officials, “We could end the corruption. Follow the D-2s,” she said, referring to State Board of Elections campaign financial disclosure forms.

Hoskins also said he was unsure whether he would keep his position as Forest Park Commissioner if elected. Dempsey fired back “I will be a full-time representative and work for you full-time.”

Gaffes

While speaking about public and private partnerships with colleges and universities Hoskins asserted there were no 4-year institutions of higher education in the 7th District. He overlooked Concordia University and Dominican University in River Forest, which has been added only recently within the new boundaries of the district.

When speaking about nuclear energy, Dempsey said it should be monitored carefully to prevent accidents, “just like in China.” She was referring to the 2011 Japanese nuclear disasters north of Tokyo caused by earthquakes.

The candidates finished by asking audience members for their votes. Dempsey used the opportunity for one last dig at Welch and Johnson: “Remember if they can’t show up, they don’t care for you,” she said.

This story has been changed to correct the university attended by debate moderator Matt Walsh.

Beyonca Johnson's financial woes

Beyonca Johnson, a candidate for 7th District representative, has been hit by financial troubles over the past several years. Johnson, who owns a credit repair business, has been sued by creditors numerous times in Cook County. On Jan. 22, the landlord of the 9159 W. Cermak Rd. property Johnson rents for her Credit Chx business filed a report with North Riverside police that Johnson had allegedly not paid rent in two months and that a check Johnson had written for $2,800 had bounced because the bank account had been closed. William Quinn, who manages the commercial building, reported to police that he planned to evict Johnson. A phone number listed for Quinn was disconnected at press time.

"I have definitely had some challenges," Johnson said during a candidate interview.

She was sued by the Calvary Portfolio Collection Agency in 2009 and was ordered by the court to turn over funds totaling $7,811. A judge ordered her wages garnisheed in November, 2011 for a $1,499 claim by Erin Capital Management in 2007. A judgment was entered against Johnson in 2006 for $1,905 when she was sued by Palisade Collection. On Feb. 2, Credit Chx was sued for $2,500 by Allen Robert, Jr.

Jean Lotus

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...