110th District Illinois House Race Interview: Jonathan Kaye
Businessman Jonathan Kaye of rural Cumberland County is running for the for the 110th Illinois House seat, saying he’ll bring a “bottom-up” approach to problem-solving that keeps the needs of the district in mind.
Kaye is challenging incumbent State Representative Reggie Phillips, who’s running for a second term in the March 15th Republican primary. You can hear a conversation with Rep. Phillips here.
“Obviously, what’s going on at the Statehouse is not working, so the old ideas are not effective,” said Kaye, in an interview with Illinois Public Media’s Jim Meadows. “We should look at things from a different perspective, such as, what if we did the opposite of what we’re doing?”
Kaye says he was initially a supporter of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda. “I thought it was very interesting and tenacious and that he provided good leadership. But as I started running for this office, and meeting the constituents of the 100th District, I saw what a toll it was taking on the people that actually live in these communities and in this district”.
Kaye says Rauner’s Democratic adversary, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan “is not our friend either”, and that both Madigan and Rauner are “throwing us under the bus, more or less”, and aren’t looking out for the best interests of the 110th District.
Kaye says a “bottom-up” approach would give voters in the 110th District more of a say in any plan to fix the state budget deficit. He says current approaches are too rigid.
“It seems like cutting is the only way that they’re approaching it right now, but there are many other creative solutions,” said Kaye.
Kaye declined to give specifics examples of how his “bottom-up” approach would actually work, but said there are changes that could be made that are “not extreme measures that need to be taken, but there are small tweaks to our current system”.
The 110th House District is home to Eastern Illinois University, which has announced layoffs and unpaid furloughs as it copes with a lack of state funding due to the state budget impasse. Kaye says his message to EIU is that, if elected, “there is no way that I will let that university go out of business, and there is no way that we can allow the jobs and the resources and the infrastructure of that school to be eroded any more than it has already”.
And once the immediate budget dispute is resolved, Kaye says he would support approaches to make state universities more financially viable.
“My promise to constituents is that I will change the conversation.” When we come together, we find solutions. When we are divided, things break down.
“If there are unsustainable business models, then we’ve got to examine that, and figure out how to make them sustainable,” said Kaye. “If we’re over relying on state funding there, we’ve got to ask ourselves why. If our university system is set up to rely on state funding, and a significant portion of state funding, and the state can’t afford it, then we’ve got to examine that and see if we can adjust.”
Kaye along with his wife Clair, has owned and run a variety of businesses over the years, including a horse riding stables, a variety store, a rural trash pickup and recycling service, a local internet service provider and a seed company. Currently, he owns and operates Cedar Ridge Nursery and some rental properties.
Kaye says that as an entrepreneur, he’s always adjusted to market demands, changing his products and services accordingly, and that state universities should do the same.