New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann stressed bipartisanship and change at a kickoff event for his campaign for the Illinois House of Representatives on Wednesday night.
In front of a packed room at the American Legion Thomas E. Hartung Post 1977 in New Lenox, Baldermann, 53, highlighted his long public résumé as evidence of what he wants to do in the Legislature in Springfield. He will be running as a Republican in 2020 to represent the 37th District to replace the retiring Margo McDermed, R-Mokena.
During his remarks, Baldermann tried to strike a tone of bipartisanship, arguing that while he was principled in his political beliefs, he also was an open-minded public servant.
“I’m glad that I have my conservative friends,” he said. “I’m glad that I have my more liberal friends here.”
Baldermann also decried political division and that the word “compromise” had become such a “dirty word” in modern politics. He said he would be honest when he couldn’t support something legislatively, but also would be willing to talk with those he disagrees with to hear their side.
“What we see nowadays is vile rhetoric, finger pointing and whoever happens to control power gets to do what they want to do and then it swings the other way,” he said. “Nobody’s working together. That has got to stop.”
Baldermann also hit upon typical state issues such as the burden of property taxes on residents. He said the Legislature passing “unfunded mandate after unfunded mandate” has driven local governments to rely more and more on local property taxes.
“That has to stop,” he said.
He argued that state legislators should let local officials decide what is best for their constituents as opposed to applying a “one size fits all” approach.
Baldermann first was elected mayor of New Lenox in 2007 and won his fourth term in April. He also is the superintendent of the one-school Union School District 81 and serves on the Metra Board of Directors. He was a member of the Chicago Ridge Police Department for 22 years and retired as chief in 2010.
He’s already received criticism for his multiple public jobs including by one conservative news outlet which labeled him a “quadruple dipper.” He made a reference to this during his remarks.
“You may have read, I know a thing or two about pensions,” Baldermann said. “Be careful where you get your information from.”
Baldermann used that as a way to call for pension reform, but stressed that although it is “easy to point the finger” at public school teachers, police officers and firefighters, it was poor policies that brought about the state’s pension problems. He said that public workers were “not the enemy,” but they “are us.”
“They didn’t write any pension legislation,” he said. “All they do is go to work every single day to provide incredible service for us.”
Baldermann previously said that if he wins in 2020, he intends to remain the mayor of New Lenox citing other examples of public officials doing the same, such as Rosemont Mayor Bradley Stephens who was appointed to be a state representative in June. He said that he would have to resign from his seat on the Metra Board since it is a state agency.
Before his remarks Wednesday night, Baldermann also received the endorsements of the mayors of Homer Glen, Frankfort, Mokena, Lockport and Orland Park, all of the New Lenox Village Board members, Will County Board member Ray Tuminello, R-New Lenox, and local labor unions among others.
McDermed announced last month that she would not seek reelection to her seat in the General Assembly and will retire once her current term ends.
The 37th District includes all or parts of New Lenox, Mokena, Tinley Park, Frankfort, Homer Glen, Joliet, Lockport and Orland Park.