Today, we conclude our endorsements with 17 competitive Illinois House races in the Chicago area.
You can read our previous endorsements in other House races, 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 Guide: elections.suntimes.com/voting-guide/.
Mary Edly-Allen in the 51st District
Sometimes it’s not whom you vote for, but whom you vote against.
We endorse Democrat Mary Edly-Allen, a bilingual elementary school teacher from Libertyville. She has a long record of civic involvement and could do well.
More to the point, though, this is a chance for voters in the 51st District — Democrats and Republicans alike — to take a stand against the kind of ugly conspiracy-laden nonsense that’s tearing our country apart. Republican candidate Helene Miller Walsh scrubbed her Facebook page clean after being appointed to this seat in August, but there’s no forgetting the garbage she was posting.
Above an unverified story that Muslim immigrants tried to rape a British tourist, she wrote: “This is Islam.”
Under another story about a candidate — who happened to be a Muslim — running for attorney general in Minnesota, she wrote: “This is scary stuff. Muslims know that if they control the laws then they will forever restrict OUR Judea-Christian [sic] freedoms and encumber the masses.”
And there was more.
Edly-Allen supports a graduated income tax provided it doesn’t burden middle-class families and would restore funding to state universities and community colleges. She favors re-amortizing the state’s pension debt and would vote to legalize recreational marijuana, as long as best practices are used to regulate it.
Edly-Allen knows she needs the support of Republican voters in this district, where no Democrat has even bothered to run in recent elections. Walsh’s extremism should make that job easier.
Eddie Corrigan in the 53rd District
In this race in northwest Cook County, we’re more in step with Democrat Mark Walker of Arlington Heights on such issues as a graduated income tax and abortion rights. But our endorsement goes to Eddie Corrigan, an energetic young Republican who already has invaluable Washington experience.
Walker, a retired businessman, held this seat from 2009 through 2011, but lost his bid for re-election in 2012. We respect his record of service, but it’s time for someone new.
Corrigan, who’s making his first run for elected office, worked as an outreach coordinator for U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam. He’s familiar with the ways of Washington — and also of Springfield. He favors universal background checks on gun buyers and other such middle-of-the-road gun restrictions, and he pledges to make bipartisanship a priority. Corrigan’s ideas for economic growth remember the middle class, such as targeted tax credits for small businesses with fewer than 100 workers.
Maggie Trevor in the 54th District
If politics is the art of compromise, it’s time for the voters of the 54th District to move on.
Republican state Rep. Tom Morrison has a poor record of knowing when to bend, while his Democratic challenger, political scientist Maggie Trevor, seems to understand that’s how the system is supposed to work.
“Bipartisanship used to be the norm,” she lamented in an interview.
Morrison voted last year against the budget bill that became law, griping that it wasn’t balanced. But the alternative — a third crazy year with no budget at all — was an unacceptable alternative. Morrison also sponsored a bill that was utterly dismissive of transgender kids, requiring students to use school restrooms that correspond to the sex they were assigned at birth.
Trevor, whom we endorse, is eloquent on the need to protect the rights and retirement benefits of current government workers, even as our state digs its way out of a financial hole. She favors a graduated income tax and supports abortion rights.
Martin J. Moylan in the 55th District
Democrat Martin J. Moylan of Des Plaines has carved out a niche in Springfield by sponsoring sensible gun legislation, including a bill to ban military-style weapons and “bump stocks” that Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed.
Moylan has also championed other issues that benefit middle-class families and working people, such as lowering property taxes and stopping local municipalities from creating “right-to-work” zones that undercut labor rights. An experienced legislator and on-time mayor and alderman in Des Plaines, Moylan is our pick for a fourth term in the northwest suburban 55th District.
He is opposed by Republican Marilyn Smolenski, a first-time candidate who owns a small business that creates clothing for women who are gun enthusiasts.
Michelle Mussman in the 56th District
Michelle Mussman tends closely to the practical needs of her politically moderate northwest suburban district, knowing the voters like to see her around and have little interest in partisan squabbles. We believe she has the temperament and grasp of issues to be a more prominent thoughtful leader in Springfield, but legislators from swing districts like to keep their politics close to home.
Most recently, Mussman, whom we endorse, helped pass a bill requiring tough new verification standards to weed out people who don’t qualify for Medicaid, and she gets credit for a law holding universities more accountable for preventing and handling sexual violence on campus.
She is being challenged by Republican Jillian Rose Bernas, a Schaumburg Township District Library trustee.
Bob Morgan in the 58th District
Republican Fredric Bryan “Rick” Lesser of Lake Bluff, an estate planning lawyer who replaced his party’s original candidate on the ballot, has a strong resume of public service as a village trustee and former president of a variety of local civic and business organizations. But Democrat Bob Morgan of Deerfield would be just the sort of lawmaker Springfield needs: thoughtful, knowledgeable, experienced and eager to work with legislators of both parties.
As associate general counsel in then-Gov. Pat Quinn’s office, Morgan was the lead attorney in implementing health care expansion under the federal Affordable Care Act. He also helped implement the state’s medical marijuana program. He would bring to the job a depth of knowledge about state government. Morgan favors legalization of recreational marijuana, expanded casino gambling and a graduated income tax. He is endorsed.
Daniel Didech in the 59th District
Both candidates in the 59th District have a strong record of civic service. Democrat Daniel Didech is a supervisor for Vernon Township. He helped to lower the township’s property tax levy by 5 percent. Republican Karen Feldman served as a Lincolnshire village trustee for seven years.
Didech, however, speaks with clarity about protecting health care reforms established by former President Barack Obama that now are under attack by President Donald Trump. He also leaves no doubt about his support for legislation aimed at curbing gun violence. Feldman is fuzzy on those key issues.
Didech is endorsed for this open seat in a district that includes Buffalo Grove, Vernon Hills and Mundelein.
Sheri Jesiel in the 61st District
Republican Sheri Jesiel of Winthrop Harbor, in the northeast corner of Illinois, knows first-hand how the laws and regulations promulgated in Springfield can help or hinder a business located on a state border. An accountant and former retirement plan administrator, she wants to make sure the Legislature does nothing to unnecessarily burden businesses whose competitors are just a short drive across a state line. She is endorsed.
Also running is Democrat Joyce Mason of Gurnee, a human resources consultant. She’s thoughtful and knowledgeable, and we hope she’ll remain engaged in politics.
Sam Yingling in the 62nd District
In the general election two years ago, we offered no endorsement in this district. This time around, Democratic incumbent state Rep. Sam Yingling of Grayslake declined to fill out a questionnaire and sit for an interview with us. But his opponent, Republican Ken Idstein of Grayslake, a senior loan officer, has failed to offer a credible array of policy proposals that might suggest he’d be an improvement.
Yingling, a former Avon Township supervisor, has worked to help consolidate redundant local governmental units, to make the job of Lake County assessor an elected position, and to increase property tax exemptions for homeowners, seniors and veterans. He is endorsed.
Tom Weber in the 64th District
Republican Tom Weber of Lake Villa is our choice in the 64th District. A small business owner with a track record in Lake County politics and community service, he has a big edge in experience over Democrat Trisha Zubert of Volo.
Weber is well-suited to go to Springfield and address one of his district’s biggest concerns: the exodus of businesses and residents across the border to Wisconsin. He has served on the Lake County Board and the Lake County Forest Preserve District Board since 2012.
Weber has shown that he knows how to compromise, an asset. He long opposed video gambling in local bars and restaurants, but agreed to support its legalization in Lake County — if the revenue gained was put aside for special purposes. That money now is being used to fund small mental health grants. Weber also partnered with a Democrat on the Forest Preserve board to make sure that a $1.3 million surplus was refunded to taxpayers.
Richard Johnson in the 65th District
For far too long, Illinois has carried the stigma of being last in the nation when it comes to state support of education. Ending that embarrassment will take knowledgeable, strong voices on behalf of more equitable school funding.
Democrat Richard Johnson of Elgin, a high school teacher and president of the Elgin Teachers Association, could be one of those voices. He is our pick for election to the open Illinois House seat in this far west suburban district.
Johnson, who teaches classes on law and psychology at Bartlett High, commuted nights for five years, from Elgin to Chicago, to earn his law degree from John Marshall law school. He’s open to the idea of consolidating school districts to save money and wants to free districts from unfunded, costly mandates. Johnson has some work to do to deepen his knowledge of issues beyond education, but he already understands the basics of our state’s fiscal and economic problems and what it will take to solve them.
He is opposed by Republican Dan Ugaste of Geneva, a workers’ compensation attorney.
Kathleen Willis in the 77th District
State Rep. Kathleen Willis’ name came up a lot in our endorsement interviews with candidates running for the Illinois House.
Some, like Republican Peter Breen, had worked with Willis, a Democrat, to pass the Firearms Restraining Order Act. The law allows guns to be seized from people who are dangers to themselves or others.
Some seeking to be elected for the first time said they looked forward to working with Willis on reforms to try to curb gun violence. She is respected by members of both parties.
We offer Willis an enthusiastic endorsement for a fourth term in this district that includes O’Hare Airport, Addison and Melrose Park. She is also a terrific advocate for schoolchildren. She is a former Addison Elementary District 4 school board member.
Willis is being challenged again by Republican Anthony Airdo, whom she defeated two years ago.
David S. Olsen in the 81st District
We are disappointed that incumbent Republican David S. Olsen of Downers Grove, who was appointed to this seat in 2016, was AWOL when legislators of both parties finally got together in 2017 to enact a budget over Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto and end the state’s two-year budget impasse.
But Olsen, a pro-life candidate who previously sat on the College of DuPage and Village of Downers Grove boards, did show independence in voting for gun shop certification, and he opposes arming teachers — momentarily an issue in his district — calling it “a silly issue.” He is endorsed.
Democrat Anne M. Stava-Murray of Naperville, a political newcomer, also is running.
Jim Durkin in the 82nd District
In May, House Republican leader Jim Durkin implored lawmakers to keep up the bipartisan momentum that had finally delivered a state budget after three years.
“When we respect the priorities of both sides, we can accomplish great things,” Durkin, of Western Springs, said then. That’s politics speaking, of course, but Illinois’ fiscal and economic problems will take both parties to fix. Durkin’s push to get GOP colleagues on board with a bipartisan budget is the single biggest reason he deserves re-election.
We endorse Durkin over Democratic challenger Tom Chlystek, an engineer and alderman on the Darien City Council.
Stephanie A. Kifowit in the 84th District
The Republican strategy in this race has been to drag House Speaker Mike Madigan, D-Chicago, into it.
Incumbent Rep. Stephanie A. Kifowit has been a highly effective legislator, and an extremely centrist Democrat, so about all that’s left for her critics is to bemoan that she has “supported” the unpopular Madigan.
In reality, Kifowit, a former Marine who served more than nine years on the Aurora City Council, has shown an independent streak, voting against budgets put forth by Democrats and for a property tax freeze. She understands the issues thoroughly — and she understands the strengths and limitations of the proposed solutions. We endorse Kifowit for a third term.
She is opposed by Patty Smith, a paralegal and resident of Aurora who once was named her city’s Volunteer of the Year.
Mark Batinick in the 97th District
When Mark Batinick dropped by for an endorsement interview a few days ago, we had a good conversation.
Batinick insisted that a proposed state law prohibiting employers from asking job candidates how much money they earn in their current job was bad for everybody — employers and job-seekers alike. We said he misunderstood how the law would work, and we explained.
Neither side convinced the other, but you could see it in his eyes — this guy wasn’t afraid to hear others out. And as he left the meeting, he said he’d have to think this one over.
Batinick, a Republican, is by far the more experienced and knowledgeable candidate in this race, and we endorse him. He’s got a libertarian streak that keeps both Republicans and Democrats on their toes.
Batinick’s Democratic opponent, Mica Freeman, a former teacher, got into the race because she was appalled that Batinick didn’t vote for a health care bill last year that protects people with pre-existing conditions. But her command of the issues is too weak.
Natalie A. Manley in the 98th District
State Rep. Natalie A. Manley of Joliet is known for her service to retirees in this southwest suburban district, home to three major retirement communities.
Public health is among her top priorities. Manley successfully pushed legislation to require more thorough reporting on the care that residents receive in veterans’ homes. She also sponsored legislation requiring schools to better train teachers to recognize suicidal behavior and other signs of mental health crises in young people. Manley wants to expand mental health services statewide — if only the state had the money.
Manley’s opponent, Republican Alyssia Benford of Bolingbrook, is a certified public accountant, just like Manley. Benford said she wouldn’t have voted for the income tax hike in 2017, which passed with a “yes” vote from Manley. But Benford offers no substantive alternatives to help dig Illinois out of its financial mess.
We endorse Manley.
- Endorsements for 16 Illinois House races in the Chicago area, Districts 15 through 50
- Illinois Senate endorsements for the Chicago area
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