Smith wins in 10th District; Amendment #49 loses
December 7, 2012

By William S. Bike

Besides the presidential race, the two hottest races locally were in the 10th Illinois Legislative District and the vote on Constitutional Amendment #49, which could have eliminated the State of Illinois’s Constitutional protection for public employees’ pension benefits.

Derrick Smith, the former 10th District Democratic State Representative ousted by his colleagues from the House after his indictment on a charge that he took a $7,000 bribe in a Federal Bureau of Investigation sting, won his election over Unity Party and Gazette endorsed candidate Lance Tyson.

Smith tallied 24,840 votes for 62.6%, to Tyson’s 14,829 for 37.4%. The district covers ten Chicago wards, and Smith won in every ward.

Voters rejected Constitutional Amendment #49. Although about 56% of Illinois voters who weighed in on the measure cast a “yes” vote for the amendment, the law required either a yes vote from 3/5 (60%) of the people voting on it, or 50% plus one of the total number of votes cast in the election. The amendment received neither.

If passed, the amendment would have required a 3/5 majority of a legislative body to increase benefits, but only a simple majority to reduce benefits that currently are protected from reduction by the State Constitution.

“Article XXX, Section 5 of our State Constitution (adopted in 1970) had as its purpose the safeguarding of the pensions of public employees,” said Ann Lousin, a faculty member at the John Marshall Law School and outspoken opponent of the amendment.

She added that the change “proposed by this Amendment appears to be an attempt to circumvent or abolish those protections. For example, it is possible that a cost-of-living adjustment could be eliminated if this Amendment” had passed.

She noted the amendment would have done “nothing for the State’s pension funding problem,” and, if approved, would have been “a catastrophe for Illinois.”

“The overt and covert danger of this proposal may be over, but we should expect more attacks on our pension benefits when the Illinois General Assembly reconvenes for the veto session in late November and early December as well as in the opening days of the next regular legislative session in January,” said Merrill L. Gassman, president of UIC United, the University of Illinois at Chicago chapter of the State Universities Annuitants Association.

“The legislature will be filled with a significant percentage of ‘lame ducks’ who have nothing to gain or lose by supporting ‘pension reform.’”

The Gazette had opposed the amendment in its editorial section in both October and November. Nationally, in the Presidential race, the Democratic incumbent ticket of Barack Obama for President and Joe Biden for Vice President won over Republicans Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan 63,714,092 to 59,782,295, or 50.7% to 47.6% of votes cast for either ticket.

In Chicago, the Obama-Biden ticket scored 832,792 votes for 84%, to the Romney-Ryan ticket’s 144,320 for 14.6%, with minor candidates receiving the rest of the vote to total 100%. Obama-Biden won every ward in the city. The Gazette had endorsed Obama.

All four local Congressmen, endorsed by the Gazette, retained their seats.

In the 1st District, Democratic incumbent Bobby Rush earned 225,098 votes for 73.8% over Republican Donald Peloquin, who received 79,947 for 26.2%. The 3rd District saw Democratic incumbent Daniel Lipinski tally 160,925 votes for 68.4% over Republican Richard Grabowski, who earned 74,357 votes for 31.6%. In the 4th District, Democratic incumbent Luis Gutierrez received 128,385 votes for 83.3%, to Republican Hector Concepcion’s 25,749 votes for 16.7%.

A three-way race in the 7th District saw Democratic incumbent Danny K. Davis victorious with 224,377 votes for 84.6%. Republican Rita Zak earned 29,164 votes for 11%, and independent John Monaghan received 11,550 votes for 4.4%.

Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy A. Brown, a Democratic incumbent endorsed by the Gazette, tallied 1,220,896 votes for 70.5% to Republican Diane S. Shapiro’s 510,032 for 29.5%.
A new Recorder of Deeds was elected, as Democrat Karen A. Yarbrough, endorsed by the Gazette, earned 1,215,387 votes for 71.6%. Republican Sherri Griffith received 482,213 for 28.4%.

The Gazette endorsed Republican Lori S. Yokoyama in the race for State’s Attorney. Democratic incumbent Anita Alvarez retained her office with 1,348,783 votes for 77.3%. Yokoyama received 396,435 for 22.7%.

In the race for Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioners, all three Democrats won: Debra Shore, Patrick Daley Thompson, and Kari K. Steele.

The three advisory referenda for the City of Chicago passed. The referendum on Chicago finding an electricity supplier passed with 467,046 votes for 56.4%. The second referendum, on the State funding Chicago teacher pensions, earned 651,323 votes for 76.6%. The third referendum, on limiting campaign contributions, passed with 601,410 votes for 74.1%.