Lack of accountability allowed sex harassment to go on, House candidate says
Paul Jacobs says it's time to do something about the sexual harassment that has become a big topic in the Illinois capital.
“There needs to be accountability,” Jacobs told the SW Illinois News, citing 27 complaints sent to the state. “Something needs to be done. It seems like a quite prevalent problem that needs to be addressed."
Jacobs is running against Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) in the 115th District, which covers the counties of Jackson, Jefferson, Washington, Perry and Union.
Jacobs was generally supportive of a move by GOP House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) to set up a sexual harassment hotline for complaints, saying new initiatives to combat sexual harassment should be undertaken as soon as possible.
The fact that the legislative inspector general post has been vacant since 2014 goes a long way toward explaining the perceived laxity in tackling the apparent bad behavior of officials, Jacobs said.
Still, Jacobs said, Illinois continues to appropriate $300,000 a year to the office, for a total of what he estimated as more than a million dollars.
“Fill the position,” Jacobs said. “Its role is defined quite well. It’s such a travesty.”
Jacobs argued that having a fully staffed ethics commission would probably lead to better oversight on the kinds of issues that create sexual harassment or hostile work environment complaints.
“Taking on the problem is the most important thing,” Jacobs said. “I don’t think you have to have a witch hunt, but there needs to be accountability.”
Part of the responsibility to voters is to remember that a legislative seat is a “people’s seat,” he said, adding that having this kind of humility would likely stop officials from abusing their positions in ways that harm the community as a whole.
Jacobs stressed the importance of financial and procedural humility as well, saying he will decline a pension if elected to show that monetary gain should not be the sole motive for attaining office. Jacobs also supports term limits as a way of limiting the abuse of power.