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Kadner: Ricardo Fernandez an option for Orland Park

Ricardo Fernandez is running for Illinois House next month after failed primary bid for Senate. | Supplied photo.

Ricardo Fernandez is running for the Illinois House next month after a failed primary bid for the Senate. | Supplied photo.

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Updated: November 20, 2012 11:01AM



No one other than Ricardo Fernandez and his closest friends give him a chance of being elected Nov. 6.

My guess is even some of those close friends might secretly wonder why he’s wasting his time.

Fernandez, a Republican who lives in Orland Park, is running for the Illinois House in the 35th District.

His opponent is Fran Hurley, a secretary with the 19th Ward Democratic Organization in Chicago.

The Chicago Tribune, which tends to endorse every Republican who can walk and chew gum at the same time, is backing Hurley.

The state Republican Party isn’t bothering to send Fernandez any money because it considers the district a lost cause.

But I believe Southland residents ought to consider voting for Fernandez simply because the Chicago Democrats are trying to shove Hurley down their throats.

She may be a nice woman. She told me during the spring primary campaign that her greatest asset is dealing with people because that’s what she did most of the time at the ward headquarters.

But the fact is a large chunk of this district is in the suburbs and the people there have different interests than those in Chicago.

But the district was gerrymandered by House Speaker Michael Madigan to make sure Chicagoans control it.

On the northeastern end, the district goes up past 87th and Halsted streets, includes Beverly and Mount Greenwood as it heads southwest, then snakes west through an area about a mile wide between 111th and 119th streets from Pulaski to Harlem and then takes another southwest turn along a funnel of territory until it reaches Orland Park, where it includes most of the village west of 84th Avenue.

It’s ironic in a way because people have often joked that Orland Park is “the 19th Ward South” due to its connections to Chicago political leaders there.

The 35th District isn’t the only one where Chicago Democrats are attempting to extend their influence on the suburbs, but the odd shape of the district makes it the most obvious.

As for Fernandez, he wouldn’t even be running for office if Steven Williams, who won the Republican primary this spring, hadn’t dropped out of the race due to a job change.

Fernandez is such a neophyte to campaigning that he didn’t even mention the Chicago Democrats’ attempt to infiltrate the suburbs during our conversation about his race.

Fernandez is a licensed physical therapist who basically is self-funding his campaign.

Fernandez said he considers himself a “middle to the right” Republican and is anti-abortion except in cases of rape and incest.

He said he wants to keep state pension costs down by eliminating automatic cost-of-living increases for government retirees.

He supports lowering the corporate income tax rate for all businesses in Illinois.

He also wants to repeal the income tax hike of 2011.

Fernandez supports lowering property taxes, which he feels are becoming too much of a burden on homeowners.

And he also vows to balance the state’s budget.

With the state facing a multibillion-dollar budget deficit and teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, Fernandez is not quite clear on how he would replace all of the lost tax revenue that would result from his promises except to say he would “cut waste in government.”

But such technicalities seem irrelevant in the current presidential debates, so it seems unfair to hold Fernandez to a higher standard.

By the way, Hurley contends on her website that raising the state income tax was “irresponsible” and she would support a “bipartisan commission to create a plan for our state to live without” the temporary tax.

Only she would make sure that taking away billions of dollars in tax revenue would not impact the quality of education, police or fire protection.

Did I mention the state this year cut $200 million out of the education fund even though it had billions in additional revenue from the income tax hike?

Amazing how facts can really mess up some great campaign rhetoric.

“I’ve never run for office before this year,” Fernandez told me — though he ran unsuccessfully for the Republican Party’s 18th Senate District nomination in the spring. He said he decided instead of complaining about the candidates all the time, “I would get involved myself.”

He told me he regularly volunteers his services as a physical therapist in Third World nations, recently returning from Ethiopia, and will soon go to Haiti as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.

One of 10 children, he was the first member of his family to go to college.

He received an associate’s degree from Moraine Valley Community College in 1987 and graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy in 1989.

While working full time, he returned to school and completed a master of health science degree in physical therapy at the University of Indianapolis in 1992 and ended up with a doctorate in physical therapy in 2007 from Nova Southeastern University.

A staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, Fernandez said he would support a concealed-carry law for gun owners in Illinois.

Hurley and Fernandez would each create new businesses, single-handedly make the Legislature financially responsible and leap tall buildings in a single bound.

I think suburban residents ought to consider a protest vote in this campaign, and that would mean one for Fernandez.

He’s not going to be able to do much harm in two years, especially with Democrats in control of everything in Springfield.

Hurley likely will win. She will thank Madigan with unreasoning loyalty. Madigan will ignore the interests of the suburbs and try to pass tax hikes on to them.

The choices stink. And Republicans deserve as much blame as the Democrats for that.



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