As a Republican candidate for the state House, New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann, 53, is almost certain to face scrutiny from voters over his receiving a publicly-funded pension check and multiple government pay checks, says George Pearson, chairman of the Will County Republican Central Committee.
“All candidates will have to answer some tough questions,” Pearson, who as chairman is staying neutral in the primary race, told the Will County Gazette. “But these double-dipping issues have dogged the mayor. Voters are tired of people holding office to get the benefits.”
The questions have already started. Covering Baldermann’s campaign kickoff last night at the American Legion Thomas E. Hartung post in New Lenox, The Herald-News reported that “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."
George Pearson, candidate for Illinois Republican Central Committee 2nd Congressional District committeeman | Photo contributed by George Pearson
“You may have read, I know a thing or two about pensions,” Baldermann was quoted as saying. “Be careful where you get your information from.”
Baldermann is running for the 37th District, a seat now held by Margo McDermed (R-Mokena), who is retiring when her term ends at the end of 2020.
Baldermann receives $71,000 a year in disability from Chicago Ridge as former police chief there, a salary of $206,000 as superintendent of the tiniest school district in the state, an $18,000 salary as mayor of New Lenox (which he says he donates to charity) and $15,000 as a Metra director.
The total package for superintendent of Union School District 81 includes $10,000 a year bonus, a car allowance, health insurance and the district picks up the cost of his pension contribution.
The amount was questioned last fall in a report by Fox 32 Chicago.
“Two-hundred-thousand a year to run a school district isn't extraordinary,” the story said. “But what makes Baldermann's salary stand out is the size of the district: one building, eleven teachers and about 100 students, with as few as 92 a couple years ago.”
Baldermann told the Chicago Tribune that if elected he would keep his mayor and superintendent positions. State lawmakers earn a base of $67,836 plus a 2.4% cost-of-living adjustment approved on June 6 by Gov. J.B. Pritzker when he signed the $40 billion budget.
Pearson says the news of the recent federal indictment of state Sen. Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) for allegedly taking $275,000 in salary and benefits from the Teamsters union in exchange for little or no work will only increase voter scrutiny of politicians enriching themselves.
“Politicians who double-dip are going to have to start answering to the private sector,” Pearson said.
The 37th District includes all or parts of New Lenox, Mokena, Tinley Park, Frankfort, Homer Glen, Joliet, Lockport and Orland Park.