Today, we continue our endorsements in state legislative races — this time for the Senate — in the March 15 primaries.
Early voting at satellite facilities begins Monday. For suburban Cook County sites, go to http://www.countyclerk.com. For city sites, go to http://www.chicagoelections.com. To read our endorsements in state House races and the Cook County Circuit Court clerk race, as well as for candidate questionnaires and related news stories, go to suntimescandidates.com.
5th District, Democratic primary
We support Patricia Van Pelt for re-election, urging her to continue her pursuit of criminal justice reform. In her three years serving the West Side, her signature piece of legislation was a law that provides a tax credit to businesses that hires ex-offenders after their release from prison. It’s part of her broader agenda to cut back on crime and recidivism by reintegrating former inmates. We back Van Pelt, first elected to the Senate in 2012, over former Ald. Robert “Bob” Fioretti, but our enthusiasm is tempered by her former involvement with 5Linx, a home-based sales organization that recruits sales representatives who move up recruiting more sales reps. In a promotional video for the company, Van Pelt’s name, title and seal of the State of Illinois appeared prominently. It was an ethically challenged move.
19th District, Democratic primary
Last summer, State Sen. Michael E. Hastings successfully sponsored a bill offering property tax relief to some 10,000 Illinois disabled veterans. Hastings, a West Point football player and former U.S. Army captain, knew these men and women. He understood their struggles. He understood society’s obligation to them. Our endorsement goes to Hastings, a three-year incumbent. He is a by-the-numbers suburban Democrat, pro-union and skeptical of Gov. Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda. But he sees room for workers comp reform, a Rauner goal, and wants to rework the state’s school funding formula to reduce local property taxes. He favors term limits for legislative leaders. Hastings’ opponent is McStephen O.A. “Max” Solomon, a lawyer with a powerful story. Solomon immigrated to America from Nigeria in 1992 to find work after his parents died, sending money home to seven siblings. But Solomon shows little grasp of the serious challenges confronting Illinois .
22nd District, Democratic primary
Sen. Mike Noland, D-Elgin, is departing to run for Congress and we see two respectable candidates vying to replace him. Our pick is Cristina Castro, a Kane County commissioner since 2008. She is well versed on the issues, especially education funding. That’s a hot-button issue in a district that covers Elgin, Carpentersville, Hanover Park, Hoffman Estates, Streamwood and Schaumburg. In theory, Castro says, she supports a more equitable formula to help poorer schools, but says she wants financially stable schools held harmless. We can see her being a major player on this issue in Springfield. Castro’s views on gun laws — she supports licensing for all firearms dealers, tighter gun background checks and limiting straw gun purchases — are in line with our views. Her opponent, state trooper Steve Caramelli, is a Hanover Township trustee.
26th District, Republican primary
Of the three candidates running to replace state Sen. Dan Duffy, Barrington Hills Mayor Martin McLaughlin by far has the strongest resume and is endorsed. McLaughlin’s day job overseeing the investment of public and private pension assets gives him a keen understanding of the single biggest fiscal challenge Illinois faces. His role as chairman of the Barrington Area Council of Governments gives him an understanding of regional issues. Elected as an opposition mayoral candidate three years ago, he has shown he can reach across political divides. Also running in the district, which covers southeastern McHenry and southwestern Lake counties and small parts of Kane and Cook, are Dan McConchie of Hawthorn Woods and Mettawa Mayor Casey Urlacher, brother of former Chicago Bear Brian Urlacher. McConchie, vice president of government affairs for Americans United for Life, has little public policy experience beyond pro-life issues. Urlacher, like McLaughlin, is a mayor, but does not have as broad a governmental or financial background.