Smith-Tyson matchup pits Democrat vs. ‘real Democrat’ in 10th District
November 1, 2012

By Susan S. Stevens

An Illinois House district shaped like a horn of plenty, the 10th District on the West and Near West Sides has an indicted former State lawmaker and a challenger running as a one-time-only third party candidate.

Ex-Representative Derrick Smith, the Democratic nominee, faces Lance Tyson of the Unity Party, who said he is “the real Democrat” in the race he entered after the spring primary election.

Derrick Smith.
Smith’s colleagues ousted him from the House after his indictment on a charge that he took a $7,000 bribe in a Federal Bureau of Investigation sting. He pleaded not guilty and awaits trial. Smith won the Democratic primary despite the charge and is running to get his old seat back.

In the meantime, Democratic Committeemen chose police officer Eddie Winters to fill the seat until the new House is seated in January. Winters is not running. Even though Smith has faced criticism for staying on the ballot, he continues to press forward with his quest to be elected and returned to the State House.

Derrick Smith in an exclusive interview told the Gazette he wants to stimulate economic development in the district through nurturing small businesses and using incentives to attract large businesses. “As a result, more residents will be employed who in return will spend money in the community, thereby stimulating the economy,” Smith said.

To deal with the Illinois budget, Smith said the days of the State spending beyond its means must end. “I believe if we present the business community with balanced budgets and thoughtful economic policies, we will see business reinvest in our state and bring in new jobs,” he said.

Smith called for regular meetings of all school leaders in the district to discuss education issues and decide how they can assist each other. He also called for a community mentoring program for students and parents that includes educational and career assistance aspects.

Smith supports Monetary Award Program grants for college students because they provide “an opportunity for students who need the financial assistance to receive a college degree.”

He did not respond when asked about the proposed Constitutional Amendment #49 concerning State workers’ pensions, though he voted to put it on the ballot. Smith also declined to discuss his legal troubles.

Smith’s website is

Lance Tyson.
Lance Tyson is a commissioner of the Cook County Sheriff’s merit board and has a private law practice. He previously spent five years as a legislative counsel to Mayor Richard M. Daley and for a year and a half after that was chief of staff for Cook County Board President Todd Stroger. Local Democratic committeemen generally are backing this “Unity Party” candidate.

Tyson said his background as a municipal finance attorney makes him believe capital markets should be used to fund projects such as schools and hospitals. That approach would create jobs, he said, noting job creation also can be stimulated with a tax credit bill to encourage employers to hire ex-offenders.

He would tackle the State budget deficit by streamlining services and developing new revenue sources — ”the same way as when I was chief of staff to the County Board president.” He said that, when he left Stroger’s administration in 2008, the county had the best credit ratings of any local government unit in Illinois. Moody’s Corp., which provides credit ratings recognized by governments and investors, has since downgraded the county’s rating.

For education, Tyson calls for switching schools’ major funding from the property tax to a graduated income tax, which he said would be fairer and bring more revenue into the system. He said would take a “scalpel” to the Illinois Department of Corrections, cutting waste in the system. “The savings we get from that surgery, I would put into education,” he asserted.

Asked if he supports MAP grants for college students, Tyson called the program “an investment, and investment means money.” He would use savings from streamlining government to invest in education, he said.

The proposed Constitutional Amendment #49, which would make it easier for legislators to reduce State workers’ pensions, “is kind of a red herring,” Smith said. “It is a way of addressing the issue but not the most effective way,” he said. “I do not think you need the Constitution to do what is fiscally responsible: just pay our debt; pay our obligations.”

Tyson’s website is