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Runoff primaries would make candidates more accountable

The polling station at Columbia College Chicago on Election Day Tuesday. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

The Illinois General Assembly should consider adopting a runoff election system for primaries. Ten other states have runoff rules in place for when a candidate fails to secure a majority of votes in a primary.

Policy discussions would be more compelling and issues-driven in the shorter campaign period between the first election and the runoff. For me as a Democratic voter, researching and comparing the various policy points of eight different attorney general candidates felt like a struggle. Similarly, allowing a billionaire candidate to buy seemingly endless TV time a year before the election left the other candidates fighting for scraps in the governor’s race.

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Serious campaign finance reform must be passed to prevent this auction of an election from happening again. We need a new primary system in place to ensure that Illinois’ elected officials will be accountable to the people.

John Gargiulo, Logan Square

Alive and well

It is difficult to put into words the utter joy and feelings of patriotism I felt Tuesday night as I crawled safely into bed knowing that in our great state, anyone, and I mean anyone, can (with Michael Madigan’s blessing and a billion-dollar trust) become governor. Democracy is alive and well in the heartland of America.

Daniel Seltzer, Oak Park

Best for business

Germany, with its high worker wages (substantially higher than ours), high taxes and strict government regulations, has the world’s highest trade surplus. To make American goods more competitive globally, our companies must keep CEO salaries more in line with international standards, that is, paying CEOs about 40 times the median worker’s wage instead of 400 times or higher.

Further, how about focusing on providing the best possible service to customers instead of maximizing corporate profits? As taught at Harvard business school, focusing on customers’ requirements results in greater efficiency and high quality products. Being ethical and responding to community needs is not only good for one’s soul, it is ultimately best for business success.

Lanlan Hoo, Wheaton

Leadership and compassion

Students from all races, classes and political leanings found themselves united when they walked out of schools March 14, and likely will find the same unity when they rally March 24. They showed leadership and compassion by demanding school safety.

Some students have called for providing stronger wraparound services to help troubled individuals who may turn to violence, and as a National Louis University professor who prepares the next generation of teachers, I applaud them. I believe schools can partner with families, law enforcement, community mental health agencies and career services agencies to help stressed students establish stability in their lives.

Schools need to staff enough guidance counselors so they can get to know students, spot those who need help and provide mental health support. Counselors also know when stressed students, often those with an IEP or mental health diagnosis, need to be evaluated and treated by a psychiatrist.

The Parkland shooter didn’t get the treatment he needed, but students with diagnoses manage fine when they have supportive relationships and follow treatment plans. They may be on medication their entire lives, but they can be stand-up citizens. To help these students evolve from dangerous to stable, schools, families and communities have to work together. Communities can provide supportive law enforcement, mental health agencies and employment services.

When students with diagnoses eventually graduate, they may need sensitivity from well-trained police responding to disorderly conduct. They may need a therapist and a case worker, and they need employment for income and a sense of purpose. It’s tempting for communities to skimp on these services. But those with the foresight to manage the modest cost may reap an important reward: a town free of news headlines about violent tragedy.

Todd Alan Price, professor,
National College of Education at National Louis University