Education a priority for 26th District state rep opponents
November 1, 2008

By Nadeen Nakib | November 2008

Running from Streeterville and the Gold Coast through the Loop, South Loop, Near South Side, Bronzeville, Hyde Park, and Woodlawn, the 26th District of the State House consistently sees great change. Part of that change will be a new representative to replace incumbent Elga Jefferies, who lost the Democratic primary in February.

Will Burns
Jefferies was beaten by William Burns, now the Democratic nominee. Burns has spent his career working to resolve problems that affect not only residents of the 26th District but all people across the Chicago region. “I am committed to public service, and my record demonstrates that,” Burns said. “I have concrete ideas and proposals on how we fix the way we fund public schools, access to healthcare, and reducing gun violence in the 26th District.”

Along with being deputy chief of staff and senior advisor to Senate President Emil Jones Jr., Burns also has been vice president of program and field offices of the Chicago Urban League, education and tax policy manager for the Metropolitan Planning Council, campaign coordinator for the Illinois Democratic Party, and deputy campaign manager for Barack Obama for Congress in 2000.

Burns hopes to raise the quality of neighborhood schools. “One thing I’m committed to working on is new ways to fund public education,” Burns said. “One of my proposals is that we increase the income tax. But we do it in a responsible way, so that the tax burden is not borne by modern two-income families and working families.”

Burns believes that any education funding reform must include a significant property tax cut—with relief particularly for long-term residents who have been adversely affected by rising property values. “You can structure property relief in a way that you provide a rebate for property tax payers without changing the statutory ability of the districts to levy,” Burns explained.

Sylvester Hendricks
The Republican nominee for the 26th District seat, Sylvester “Junebug” Hendricks, said his life-long residency in Chicago and his associations with current political officials give him the opportunity and inspiration to represent the people of the 26th District.

“I grew up in Cabrini-Green, which is a stone’s throw from the 26th District,” Hendricks said. “And I have spent a number of years within the boundaries of the 26th District. It really is an honor and a pleasure for me to have the opportunity to represent the area in the district of which I was reared nearby.”

Hendricks believes adequate funding for schools is imperative and intends to address this issue immediately if elected. “With the shortfall in the economic situation, in terms of the educational funding, it is perceived that we cannot do any better or the educators don’t feel like they can do any better in educating our children without more money,” Hendricks said. “And I think we do not only need more funding but we need more accountability and more transparency.”

Hendricks feels some difficulty may surround property tax reduction in the 26th District.

“There needs to be a balance or some foresight in coming up with a formula that will be beneficial to everyone,” Hendricks said. “ I personally would consult with an economist in terms of what would be the best way to address that.”

Hendricks served with the United States Army at the age of 17 and later attended Wilson Junior College, now Kennedy-King City College.

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