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Republican candidates for 18th Senate seat hope to make big changes in Springfield

Barbara Bellar

Ricardo Fernandez












The two Republican candidates for the 18th district for the state Senate have both heard plenty of dissatisfaction in recent weeks from potential voters.

Barbara Bellar — a doctor, lawyer and former Army Reserves major and nun from Burr Ridge – and Orland Park physical therapist Ricardo Fernandez are facing off in the March 20 primary.

The winner faces unopposed Democrat Bill Cunningham for retiring Ed Maloney’s seat in November.

The 18th district includes portions of Orland Park, Palos Park, Palos Heights, Palos Hills, Oak Lawn, Evergreen Park and Chicago.

Bellar lost to Cunningham in the 2010 race for the 35th District seat in the Illinois House of Representatives by a 21,649 to 15,450 vote. This is Fernandez’s first election.

Both have hit the campaign trail and heard plenty from the district residents. During her campaign trips, the 64-year-old Bellar  said she is bothered by residents’ view of their state.

“They are ashamed to be from Illinois and that’s really sad,” Bellar said. “When we were growing up in Illinois it was a very comfortable place and very proud. People could enjoy life and not be worried. Now I go door-to-door and I hear the problems of foreclosures and loss of jobs.”

The 45-year-old Fernandez said jobs and high taxes are among the top complaints heard during his campaign. He said the unemployment among returning military personnel is a “travesty” and links high state taxes with small businesses leaving to other states or closing, helping to add to the high unemployment figures.

“Here in Illinois, we have a governor who gives a couple of special deals to big companies such as Sears and Caterpillar but not for small businesses,” he said. “They need tax breaks for everybody.”

Bellar said there needs to be changes in Springfield.

“I think I bring a combination of my experience and passion,” she said. “I bring in the ethics to represent the people. I think there is a kingship there that needs to be dethroned. It’s like Springfield has become everything it takes to take everything we have from us.”

Some of Bellar’s stands include a resolute commitment to conservative values. She is against new taxes or increases and a proponent of tax cuts. She supports repealing the tax hike and is pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment and a strong supporter of home schooling.

Fernandez said last October he decided to run for office because he was sick of complaining about the state’s situation and wanted to do something about it.

“I listen to people all day long and listen to their complaints,” he said. “I hear people who lose their jobs and have a hard time making ends meet. I’m a good listener. What are their needs? I think that’s a great skill that I have.”

Some of Ferndandez’s priorities are to strengthen Illinois’ economy and help the taxpayers of Illinois by providing state income tax relief, promoting job growth and assisting businesses in Illinois. Other priorities include attracting new businesses to the state by lowering the corporate income tax rate, cutting waste in government, demanding accountability in Springfield, balancing the budget and saving pensions for retirees.

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