Today, we offer our endorsements in 16 competitive Illinois House races in the Chicago area. This weekend, we’ll publish endorsements in 17 more.

You can read our previous endorsements in the races for governor, Congress, Illinois comptroller, Illinois attorney general, Illinois secretary of state, Illinois treasurer, Illinois Senate, Cook County assessor and Cook County Board of Commissioners in the Sun-Times 2018 Illinois Voting Guideelections.suntimes.com/voting-guide/.


John D’Amico in the 15th District

John C. D'Amico 15th IL House nominee. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

John C. D’Amico is endorsed for Illinois House in the 15th District. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

In this Northwest Side and northwest suburban district, our endorsement goes to incumbent Democrat John C. D’Amico of Chicago.

We disagreed with D’Amico when he voted against a temporary tax increase in 2011 to address the state’s woefully underfunded pensions, but he did vote to break Springfield’s budget impasse with a plan that was somewhat balanced and included new revenue to start paying off the state’s fast-growing stack of unpaid bills.

D’Amico, a strong voice for his district, also co-sponsored the bill that evolved into the important Future Energy Jobs Act, which provides greater support for clean energy, such as wind and solar.

Also running is Republican Amanda Biela, a former Chicago Public Schools teacher.

Illinois House 15th District map

Illinois House 15th District map


Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz in the 17th District

Jennifer Gong Gershowitz endorsement Illinois House 17th District 2018 general election rich hein

Democrat Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz of Glenview is endorsed for Illinois House in the 17th District. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz of Glenview survived a tough Democratic primary in March, beating four opponents to advance to the November general election for an open seat in the House.

The experience served her well. In her interview with the Sun-Times Editorial Board, Gong-Gershowitz had a grasp of the big issues facing lawmakers in Springfield — high workers’ compensation rates, homeowners turning to the General Assembly for property-tax relief, education funding and the need for more revenue. To deal with the latter, she backs a graduated income tax.

Gong-Gershowitz is an attorney who specializes in immigration and human rights. She has stood up for children forced to maneuver the immigration system alone and children who have been victims of child trafficking. She was the first director of immigration law for the Highwood Legal Aid Clinic.

If elected, she will be the only immigration lawyer in the General Assembly. She is endorsed over Republican Peter Lee of Wilmette, also an attorney.

Illinois House 17th District map

Illinois House 17th District map


Robyn Gabel in the 18th District

Robyn Gabel, Ill. House Nominee (D-18th) October 10, 2018 | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Democrat Robyn Gabel is endorsed for re-election to the Illinois House in the 18th District. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Democratic incumbent Robyn Gabel of Evanston is one of the more capable legislators in Springfield.

She was a leader in bringing automatic voter registration to the state and the Future Energy Jobs Act, which has helped make Illinois home to the most solar energy start-ups in the Midwest. If re-elected, she says she would work to make Illinois — already a transportation hub — a center of electric-powered transportation as well. She also is a strong supporter of sensible laws to address gun violence.

Gabel is endorsed in this north suburban district. Also running is Julie Cho of Wilmette, who is centering her campaign on ending gerrymandering.

Illinois House 18th District map

Illinois House 18th District map


Robert F. Martwick in the 19th District

Robert Martwick Illinois House endorsement 19th district 2018 general election rich hein

Democrat Robert Martwick is endorsed for Illinois House in the 19th District. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

To stop middle- and working-class families from fleeing the state, Democratic state Rep. Robert F. Martwick is convinced Illinois must change the way it taxes income.

Only then, he says, can our state ease the burden of property taxes, and eliminate the stack of unpaid bills and pension obligations that threaten to paralyze state government, properly fund schools and create the tax stability that businesses crave.

To Martwick’s thinking, there is no honest alternative to a graduated, or progressive, income tax. Republicans hate that.

They also, as Martwick says, have never come up with a feasible alternative.

We endorse Martwick over Republican Ammie Kessem, a sergeant with the Chicago Police Department.

Illinois House 19th District map

Illinois House 19th District map


Frances Ann Hurley in the 35th District

State Rep. Frances Ann Hurley speaks at an Illinois General Assembly Police & First Responders Committee joint hearing at the Bilandic Building on Oct. 10, 2018. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Six-year incumbent Democrat Frances Ann Hurley, who lives in Mount Greenwood, supports expanded casino gambling, legalizing recreational marijuana, gun dealer licensing and expanding medical marijuana usage to cover pain management. A former legislative aide to Chicago aldermen Ginger Rugai and Matt O’Shea, Hurley has an extensive government and community service background. She also is a strong backer of property tax freezes.

We endorse her over Republican Herbert Hebein, a retired Chicago police officer.

Illinois House 35th District map

Illinois House 35th District map


Matthew J. Hunt in the 37th District

Matthew Hunt Illinois House democrat 37th district 2018 general election rich hein

Democrat Matthew J. Hunt is endorsed for Illinois House in the 37th District. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

It’s a close call in the 37th District, but our choice is Matthew J. Hunt of Frankfort.

Hunt is a first-time candidate and a Democrat, in a district in southwest suburban Will County that long has been solidly Republican. But we’re endorsing Hunt because of his business background and support of labor rights; Springfield needs more legislators who understand that business and labor don’t have to be at odds.

Hunt grew up in the area and surely understands its dynamics as well as the Republican incumbent, Rep. Margo McDermed. She leans right even within her party, voting against two commonsense gun restrictions that many of her fellow GOP lawmakers supported: 72-hour waiting periods to buy guns and restricting the sale of assault weapons to those 21 and older.

Hunt, who runs an insurance agency, has a track record of community service, including serving as a trustee of the Palos Heights Police Pension Board, board chair of the Lake Katherine Nature Center and coaching in local youth hockey and softball leagues.

Illinois House 37th District map

Illinois House 37th District map


Grant Wehrli in the 41st District

State Rep. Grant Wehrli is endorsed for re-election in the 41st District.

State Rep. Grant Wehrli understands public finances. You learn such stuff, if you don’t know it already, when you serve on the city council of one of the most financially sound big towns in Illinois: Naperville.

Wehrli, a small business owner, also has a good grasp of the intricacies of funding public pensions. And he knows all too well how cities get hammered by the dysfunction in Springfield.

Wehrli, a Republican, is opposed by Democrat Val Montgomery, who does not live in the 41st District. We endorse Wehrli, an easy call, with a request that he show a little more class sometimes. On the floor of the House once, he shouted “Speaker Junk” at House Speaker Mike Madigan, a reference to the state’s poor rating from bond agencies, and his fellow Republicans had to tell him to pipe down.

Illinois House 41st District map


Kathleen V. Carrier in the 42nd District

Kathleen Carrier endorsement Illinois House 42nd District Rich Hein

Kathleen V. Carrier is endorsed for the Illinois House in 42nd District. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Democrat Kathleen V. Carrier of Carol Stream has been a strong supporter of women’s rights. It’s no surprise then that she’s endorsed by the Illinois Chapter of the National Organization for Women and Emily’s List. 

As more and more families in the suburbs express concern over mass shootings, we need more legislators who will support commonsense reforms to help prevent gun violence. Carrier will do that. She is endorsed by the Gun Violence Prevention PAC. 

We endorse her over DuPage County Board member Amy L. Grant, a Republican from Wheaton.

Illinois House 42nd House map

Illinois House 42nd House map


Anna Moeller in the 43rd District

anna moeller endorsement illinois house 43rd district 2018 general election

Democrat Anna Moeller is endorsed for re-election to the Illinois House in the 43rd District. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Incumbent Democrat Anna Moeller of Elgin was among a bipartisan group of legislators who quietly came together in 2017 and worked to end an impasse that had left the state without a budget for two years. Reasonable people cheered on reasonable legislators, Moeller included, who wanted to end the stupidity.

Moeller, a former Elgin City Council member and the founding executive director of the McHenry County Council of Governments, supports creating a state board empowered to ensure that insurance companies are not pocketing excessive profits on workers’ compensation premiums. Of all the proposed tinkering to our state’s workers’ compensation rules, that’s exactly the place to start.

Republican candidate and small business owner Andrew R. Cuming of Elgin, who considers himself a libertarian, also is running.

The Illinois 43rd House district.


Fred Crespo in the 44th District

State Rep. Fred Crespo | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Democratic incumbent Fred Crespo likes to cross party lines, at least back home in his northwest suburban district, working with local mayors — many of them Republican — to produce what he calls “deliverables.”

“I’m not that partisan,” he said with a shrug in an endorsement interview. “I work with both sides.”

Most recently, Crespo worked to secure more business for Schaumburg’s convention center and helped win a full tollway interchange at Barrington Road in Hoffman Estates. He helped arrange financial assistance for construction of a much-needed Alexian Brother’s Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Hoffman Estates.

Crespo has represented the 44th District for 11 years. We endorse him over Republican Katy Dolan Baumer, the Hanover Township clerk.

Illinois House 44th District map

Illinois House 44th District map


Diane Pappas in the 45th District

Diane Pappas, Democratic nominee for Illinois House in the 45th District. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Every legislator at some point was a first-time candidate who had to convince the voters that they deserved to be elected to public office. Residents of the west suburban 45th District should not need much persuading that attorney Diane Pappas deserves their vote. We endorse Pappas, a Democrat, over Republican Christine Winger of Wood Dale.

Straightforward and well-informed, Pappas has worked as an in-house attorney for major companies and wants to bring her corporate negotiating experience to Springfield to “cut through partisan gridlock and get our state back on the right track.” As a one-time Independent (she volunteered to run as a Democrat when the party’s nominee dropped out), we expect Pappas to bring a fresh, practical perspective to the Legislature.

She also has a compelling personal story that shows she can rise to a challenge: Her family immigrated here from Communist Poland, and Pappas eventually earned degrees from Michigan State University and Yale Law School.

Illinois House 45th District map


Deb Conroy in the 46th District

State Rep. Deb Conroy | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Earlier this year, an aide to House Speaker Mike Madigan lost his job after state Rep. Deb Conroy raised a serious charge of inappropriate conduct involving him.

The #MeToo movement had hit Springfield, and Conroy — though long considered a Madigan loyalist — called the speaker out.

In her personal life, this has been a rough year for Conroy. In June, she donated a kidney to her ex-husband. She remains an involved and effective legislator, however, especially in fighting for issues of particular importance to women.

We endorse Conroy, a state representative since 2013, over Republican Gordon “Jay” Kinzler, a surgeon and member of the Glen Ellyn Park Board.

Illinois House 46th District map

Illinois House 46th District map


Deanne Marie Mazzochi in the 47th District

Deanne Marie Mazzochi | File photo

Republican Deanne Marie Mazzochi of Elmhurst, chairman of the College of DuPage board of trustees and a lawyer, was appointed to this seat over the summer to replace state Rep. Patti Bellock.

Mazzochi first was elected to the COD board in April 2015, a difficult time during which the board grappled with a series of scandals involving questionable expenditures. She took charge and was named acting chairman a few months later.

Mazzochi’s priorities would be to impose term limits; make state-supported health care function more smoothly for seniors and the disabled, and work to reduce opioid addiction. She also wants to reduce property taxes while reversing the state income tax increase. She would attempt to offset the revenue losses by controlling state spending. She is endorsed.

Also running is Democrat James M. “Jim” Caffrey of Elmhurst, a former customer team manager for Clorox.

The Illinois 47th House district.


Peter Breen in the 48th District

Peter Breen, Republican nominee for Illinois House, 48th District. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

We disagree with Republican Peter Breen on more than a few issues. When it comes to abortion rights, most notably, he is staunchly and quite actively pro-life while we’re strongly pro-choice.

But Illinois faces a host of problems, from ballooning pension fund debt to oppressive property taxes to an exodus of residents, on which Breen has worked with Democrats in an honest attempt to solve. We endorse Breen, an attorney from Lombard, for a third term.

Breen is among those suburban GOP legislators who now back tougher gun restrictions, having listened to their constituents. He supported the gun dealer licensing bill that Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed, and worked with Democratic Rep. Kathleen Willis of Addison on the Firearms Restraining Order Act, which allows guns to be seized from a person deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.

Breen’s Democratic challenger is attorney Terra Costa Howard of Glen Ellyn, a former president of the District 41 School Board.

Illinois House 48th District is in the west suburbs and includes Lisle, Lombard and Glen Ellyn | Tanveer Ali/Sun-Times

Illinois House 48th District is in the west suburbs and includes Lisle, Lombard and Glen Ellyn | Tanveer Ali/Sun-Times


Tonia “Jane” Khouri in the 49th District

Tonia Khouri. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Republican Tonia “Jane” Khouri makes a good point about a proposed graduated state income tax, which she opposes but almost all Democrats favor. It would require at least several years to enact, she says, given the need to rewrite the Illinois Constitution first, and the state can’t wait that long.

Given the speed with which Illinois’ debts and pension obligations continue to grow, Khouri told us, the Legislature has to “move the state forward” right now.

We support a graduated income tax, but Khouri is right that it would be no panacea. And we respect her advocacy for immediate and creative ways to reduce overall spending.

Khouri is a member of the DuPage County Board, which has done a commendable job of cutting costs. She also operates a landscaping and home remodeling business.

We endorse Khouri over Democrat Karina Villa, a school social worker and member of the West Chicago Elementary District 33 school board.

Illinois House 49th District map

Illinois House 49th District map


Keith R. Wheeler in the 50th District

Keith R. Wheeler, Ill. House Nominee (R-50th) October 11, 2018 | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Keith R. Wheeler | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

In 2017, Republican state Rep. Keith R. Wheeler of Oswego was part of a bipartisan group in the Illinois House that reformed the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credit program for businesses. They improved it, in part, by making smaller businesses eligible for the program and offering a financial incentive to companies that established themselves in underserved areas.

Wheeler has more ideas on how to make Illinois friendlier to businesses big and small, including a program to offer tax incentives to construction companies that take on capital improvement projects in the state. He deserves another term to make a case for his business-friendly proposals.

Wheeler is endorsed over Democrat James Leslie, a firefighter and paramedic from Aurora.

Illinois House 50th District map

Illinois House 50th District map


RELATED

SUN-TIMES 2018 ILLINOIS VOTING GUIDE


Send letters to: letters@suntimes.com