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Once again, Chicago Democratic machine thwarts the power of our vote

I was taken aback when state Sen. Heather Steans resigned this month, weeks after winning reelection, setting it up for the Democratic Party — not voters like me — to choose her successor.

State Sen. Heather Steans
Sun-Times Media

I don’t have anything against State Sen. Heather Steans or state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, who may be appointed to replace Steans in the Senate. I have voted for both of them. But I was taken aback when Steans resigned early this month, just a couple of months after I again voted for her in November.

Since I first moved to Chicago, I have never skipped voting, but I also have been somewhat “relieved” when my ballot indicates that someone is running unopposed.As long as I felt pretty good about these incumbents, this was like getting a free pass; I didn’t have to research new candidates and I could focus my attention on studying up on judge recommendations.

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But now I come to learn that in the 48th Ward we have not had an open election for state senator since 1977. Of course, this is the Democratic machine, which I was also grateful for when I first moved to Chicago and had no idea about the lay of the land. I now realize that this same process is what makes others in Chicago say that they don’t want to vote because it doesn’t change anything.

This past summer, while trying to register people to vote outside a post office in Kenwood, I begged a young man to register, and he finally relented. After I filled out his registration form for him, I told him, even if we lose, you should get involved in local politics because that is one place you might be able to make a difference.

I would like to feel that I gave him sound advice.

Lori Ashikawa, 48th Ward

GOP takes a dive on Trump again

Mitch McConnell allowed a rumor to circulate that he was not necessarily opposed to Donald Trump being impeached again, suggesting that his mind was not made up. But he also rejected any possibility that a trial could take place in the Senate while Trump was still in office. He played us again.

He gave cover for all those Republican senators who are unwilling to expose themselves to the wrath of Trump supporters even after the president incited a riot. It was the single most egregious act by an American president in our nation’s history,

Seven people died in connection with the event. And the lives of every senator, representative and the vice president were directly endangered.

A relative handful of Republicans have spoken out vehemently in opposition to Trump, some going so far as to leave the party and create organizations to put their words into action. But the GOP has become the Party Of Trump. What’s left is people unwilling to go against him and people who actually support what he tried to do — end democracy as we know it.

Now, 45 of 50 GOP senators have voted that it is unconstitutional to impeach Trump when he is out of office. Not true. Multiple people have been impeached when no longer in office. After four years of absolving Trump of every incompetence and every violation of his oath of office, the senators are trying to absolve themselves of responsibility.

Michael Hart, West Ridge

The wisdom of vaccinating prisoners

I’m 66 and have underlying medical risks, so I am eager to get my COVID-19 vaccination. But when I learned that priority for the vaccine was being given to prison staff and prisoners, I was relieved. Without going into statistics, the petrie dish of a prison seems horrifying to me, and to not vaccinate prisoners quickly would seem to fall under the Constitutional category of “cruel and unusual” punishment.

In the midst of a pandemic with uncertain outcomes, it’s smart to vaccinate both incarcerated people and staff now. This would reduce the level of stress and volatility in a prison, which is good for us all. Also, a completely inoculated population means the staff would be unlikely to carry the virus home to their families or into the community. This would be true, as well, of prisoners who have family visits or are paroled. It’s a public safety issue.

Perhaps most importantly, to vaccinate all incarcerated people is to be realistically compassionate – not soft-hearted. It is fair-minded.

As a person with family who work in a prison, I appreciate this decision. As a minister and person of faith, I welcome the compassion in this decision. As a reasonable person, I support the logic to inoculate the staff and the incarcerated.

Rev. Hilary Krivchenia, Palatine