EDITORIAL: Bug out, Gov, and let the voters decide who runs the Water District

SHARE EDITORIAL: Bug out, Gov, and let the voters decide who runs the Water District

Gov. Bruce Rauner (left) and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District candidate Cameron “Cam” Davis.

Let the voters decide who’s watching over our dirty water.

A possible court fight is shaping up over who will take a seat on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District board after the Nov. 6 general election. On one side will be a candidate chosen by the voters. On the other side will be a guy appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

We favor the candidate who stood for election. That’s called democracy. Most likely that will be Cameron “Cam” Davis, who won the March Democratic primary and is a runaway favorite in the November election. Davis has earned the gig, and a court fight would be a big waste of time and money.


Last fall, just days before the Dec. 4 filing deadline for the March 20 primary election, MWRD Commissioner Timothy Bradford died, making it too late for anyone else to circulate petitions to run for the final two years remaining on his term.

The Cook County clerk, guided by a legal opinion from the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, announced candidates could run as write-ins in the Democratic and Republican primaries. Davis won the Democratic race. Geoffrey Cubbage won the Green Party nomination. No Republican candidate ran.

On Nov. 6, Davis and Cubbage will be on the ballot for the general election. Anyone interested in running for the now-vacant Republican slot has until June 4 to turn in petitions.

David J. Walsh

David J. Walsh

But on March 23, Rauner appointed David J. Walsh, a previous appointee to the board, to the Bradford seat through the 2020 general election.

As governor, Rauner can fill a vacant position through the next general election, and he says that’s in 2020, not in November.

If nothing changes, that means two people will be laying claim to the same seat after the November election. Which might lead to litigation over the matter. Which is a stupidity we can avoid.

Rauner should back off and let the democratic process trump his appointment of Walsh.

Former state Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Former state Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

The MWRD board once was a haven for party hacks. But in recent years voters have done a better job of electing candidates with strong environmental backgrounds who have turned the agency into a force for conservation, even earning it national acclaim. Davis, for example, has spent more than 30 years working on water issues.

Last week, Rauner paid back a political favor to former state Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago, by appointing Dunkin to a different unexpired term on the MWRD board. Dunkin had supported Rauner on critical legislative votes, but he has no environmental background.

The governor who complains about political “bosses” putting up patronage hacks put up Dunkin, who’s looking to us like a patronage hack.

The voters have been doing better than that. Let them call the shots.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

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