Elections 2018
November 2, 2018

Pritzker.

Governor

Incumbent Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has been a dismal failure as governor. He has done his hardheaded best to dismantle public sector unions and turn Illinois into a right-to-work state like his hero, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, has done to our hard-working neighbors to the north. He was the driving force behind the Janus vs. AFSCME case that allowed the Supreme Court to issue a ruling that did real damage to public sector unions. Despite trying to distance himself from the Trump administration, Rauner befitted from having Neil Gorsuch appointed to the Supreme Court in time to place the determining vote in the Janus decision.

Rauner, who touts himself as a successful businessman, could not pass a budget in his first two years in office. In the third year, when a few courageous Republican lawmakers finally said “enough is enough” and crossed the aisle and voted with Democrats to pass a budget, Rauner vetoed it. The Illinois General Assembly overrode the veto, and Rauner then had the audacity to take credit for the budget’s passing.

Starved for funds for two years, the State’s educational system, social service agencies, public transit, and healthcare system are in deep trouble, with some entities having closed altogether. Childcare assistance eligibility was cut by 90%. Rauner’s failure to pass a budget also cost our State more than $1 billion in additional interest on unpaid bills. It took the accumulative effort of 18 years of previous governors to get to that figure. Because of his inability to lead, Rauner also forced Illinois to pay $1.4 billion in penalties and additional interest on the mounting bills. These are staggering numbers and resources that could have gone to the very entities that Rauner starved.

While part of a governor’s job is to attract business to his State and to its largest City, Chicago, Rauner has traveled across the nation and globe gleefully criticizing the City’s schools, violence, and taxes, chasing away potential business and jobs in the process.

The State under Rauner has unfunded pension liabilities of $130 million and accumulated $16.7 million in unpaid bills. Its credit rating is just a bit above “junk.” It wasn’t until Democrat Susan Mendoza won the special Comptroller election two years ago that, despite Rauner, she was able to whittle the balance down to $7.4 billion.

Rauner’s explanation for Illinois’ woes? It’s all House Speaker Michael Madigan’s fault. That was his mantra during his four years as governor, and that’s his mantra during the campaign of 2018. Yet, he forgets that Madigan passed budgets with every Republican and Democratic governor for 30 years prior to Rauner taking office.

Running against him is Democrat JB Pritzker, another billionaire who like, Rauner, has self-funded most of his campaign. Rauner is crying “unfair” that Pritzker has invested so much, but Rauner had no qualms directing his own millions into his campaign coffers and welcomed with open arms money from billionaire buddies Ken Griffin and Richard Uihlein. Pritzker’s dismantling of toilets in a gold coast mansion to cut his tax bill by $300,000 was petty and ridiculous. He has publically apologized, something Rauner has never done when he has been proven wrong or caught saying things out of context.

Toilets aside, Pritzker is good on the issues. His progressive income tax plan would bring in new revenues for the State from the top ten percent of earners while resulting in a tax cut to 90% of Illinoisans. He is strong on LGBT issues, net neutrality, and expanding affordable healthcare, including a public health insurance option that would allow every Illinois resident to purchase low-cost health insurance.

Pritzker has solid, workable plans for infrastructure repair, new business creation, investments in higher education, improving the agricultural economy, early childhood education, and criminal justice reform.

Kash Jackson is the Libertarian candidate. A former Navy officer, he is the founder of the parents’ rights organization Restoring Freedom.

Sam McCann is on the ballot as a conservative, vowing to keep religious beliefs “from being attacked by leftist values.” He said he “will govern with a downstate perspective.” McCann is in the race because Rauner upset far-right Republicans in the primary battle in March, in which he narrowly beat challenger Jeanne Ives.

JB Pritzker is our strong choice for governor. Rauner has done nothing to warrant a second term. Is Illinois better off now than it was four years ago? Do we want four more years of funding cuts for vital services? No and no. Rauner also vetoed the $15 minimum wage; tried to cut the prevailing wages of the trade unions; and vetoed a bill that would have paid State schoolteachers a minimum salary of $40,000. We cannot afford more of the same lack of representation for Illinois residents struggling to make ends meet.

Pritzker is not just the alternative to Rauner; he’s a good alternative with progressive stands on the issues, and the business background that prepares him to work with banks and businesses—the type of background Rauner could have built on, but decided to squander by criticizing Madigan and unions instead.

Raoul.

Attorney General

In the March primaries for Attorney General, we did not endorse Kwame Raoul on the Democratic side. We preferred Pat Quinn. We did endorse Erika Harold on the Republican side, feeling that she was better than her opponent, Gary Grasso.

One of our problems with Raoul is that he has accepted contributions from public utilities. This is not what we want to see an Attorney General, who decides if public utilities should be forced to follow environmentally friendly policies and if they are allowed to raise their rates.

As a State Senator, Raoul passed legislation concerning tougher penalties for child pornography, cyberstalking, sexual assault, gun trafficking, and repeat gun offenders. He passed a bill expanding victims’ rights. He has been a champion of affordable healthcare and Medicaid expansion, the fight against voter suppression, unions, and the environment.

Harold has some good stands on the issues and if elected would enhance the office’s efforts in fighting public corruption and addressing the opioid epidemic in Illinois. Harold is a Harvard Law School graduate and has served on the Illinois Supreme Court’s Committee on Equality and the National Board of Prison Fellowship.

We are troubled by her campaign ads, which merely follow Governor Rauner’s playbook and criticize House Speaker Michael Madigan. She also has said she would not have joined Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s amicus brief opposing the Trump administration’s efforts to cut off Federal money to sanctuary cities.

This points directly to our biggest concern about Harold. We have no confidence that Harold could or would stand up to Trump and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom on numerous trips to Chicago has attacked current Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Mayor Rahm Emanuel regarding the police consent decree that will determine needed police reform in our City. We need an Attorney General who won’t be cowed by the ultra-right bullying coming out of Washington these days.

Bubba Harsy is the Libertarian candidate. He has worked for the Maryland State Senate, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Senate, and his private law practice.

Kwame Raoul receives our endorsement because of his career-long fight on the public’s side of issues important to this community and the fact that he won’t bow to DC influence or threat.

White.

Secretary of State

Incumbent Democratic Secretary of State Jesse White has inexplicably and maddeningly dragged his feet on implementing automatic voter registration (AVR), signed into law last year and guaranteeing that voters could register or have their information updated every time they interact with a state agency. This should have been implemented for this year’s elections, but it wasn’t. Advocacy groups and even some State legislators have blasted White and say he “failed miserably” in this.

In other areas, White has done a great job since taking office way back in 1999. His teen driver safety legislation resulted in a 40% drop in teen fatal crashes in the first year. He has cracked down on drunk drivers, improved truck safety and the commercial driver’s license process, modernized customer service through technology, and strengthened the Illinois inspector general’s office, which is under his jurisdiction.

Republican Jason Helland would create e-filing of corporate documents, reduce the fees for license plates (because Illinois can afford to reduce the revenues it takes in?), and strengthen lobbyist oversight. He is the Grundy County State’s Attorney.

Libertarian Steve Dutner would privatize the Illinois Driver Services Department and reduce or eliminate some fees (here we go again).

Although Jesse White has been incredibly disappointing on AVR, he has done a good job on other issues and is endorsed for re-election.

Frerichs.

State Treasurer

The incumbent state treasurer is Democrat Mike Frerichs. Thanks to Frerichs, Illinois is one of only eight states in the nation to offer Benefit Corporation status—legal protections for businesses that are responsible stewards of the environment. He is committed to expanding the Bright Start and Bright Directions college savings plans to allow families to save money for youngsters to go to college. He created an employee bill of rights to safeguard Office of the Treasurer employees from being pressured to do political work and to prevent harassment in the workplace. Frerichs also has made it easier for people to claim money and property of theirs that the State is holding.

Oddly, Republican Jim Dodge touts the fact that his parents were Democrats. He has served as a trustee and mayor pro tem of Orland Park. A centerpiece of his campaign is to combine the State offices of treasurer and comptroller. He also follows Gov. Bruce Rauner’s policy of blaming Chicago Democrats for the State’s problems, running against “the disastrous policies of the Chicago political machine, led by Mike Madigan.”

Michael Leheney, the Libertarian candidate, holds a finance degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is employed by Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurants. He formerly was with PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Mike Frerichs has done a good job and should be retained as treasurer.

Mendoza.

State Comptroller

Susana Mendoza, Democrat and incumbent state comptroller, took office during the time when the State had no budget, and played a key role in warning the citizens of Illinois and elected officials about the dangers of the State not paying its bills if no budget were enacted, yet was able to reassure financial institutions that the State would continue to stay afloat.

A video she posted on Facebook went viral, obtaining more than 2.8 million views, and was a key factor in pressuring Democrats and Republicans to finally pass a budget. Her own budget for her office was the lowest in two decades. Mendoza also created the Debt Transparency Act, which for the first time provides a monthly balance sheet of the debts owed by every State agency. The bill passed over Governor Bruce Rauner’s inexplicable veto.

Republican Darlene Senger has worked for First National Bank and was later vice president of SEI Consulting. She has served on the Naperville City Council and as a State Representative. One of her issues is “ending high interest payouts to Illinois vendors”—even though these vendors are owed interest by law. She wants to consolidate the offices of treasurer and comptroller, thereby eliminating the office for which she is running.

Libertarian Claire Ball earned bachelor’s and master’s accounting degrees from DeVry University. She is Senior Accountant for Noble Network charter schools. She wants to speed up reporting of State financial reports and publish a table of priorities so citizens can see which bills are being paid first and which are not, and why.

Susana Mendoza is a key reason why the State has a budget and any fiscal stability at all. In just two years, she has reduced our liabilities from $16.7 billion to $7.4 billion—even though Governor Rauner fought her every step of the way. She has strongly earned our endorsement for state comptroller.

Rush.

Congress, 1st

Incumbent and Democrat Bobby Rush strongly supports the Affordable Care Act, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA), and stringent gun control legislation. In his time in Congress, he has gotten passed or assisted with legislation that has improved the environment, strengthened consumer safety, created jobs, and sustained business.

Republican opponent Jimmy Lee Tillman II supports middle class tax cuts and an infrastructure program to create jobs and opportunities. He believes that he could work with the Trump administration to bring vital resources to his district. Good luck with that. Trump has no interest in supporting Chicago or any blue state that didn’t vote for him in 2016. His vindictiveness continues to shine through and a novice like Tillman won’t sway him.

Independent Thomas Rudback has some good progressive positions on immigration, ending the gun-show loophole, fighting pollution, and raising the minimum wage.

Bobby Rush has done a good job over the years and deserves another term.

Congress, 3rd

Lipinski.

Democrat Dan Lipinski first was elected to Congress from the 3rd District in 2004. Sometimes we have endorsed him, and sometimes we have not. We have not agreed with his originally voting against the Affordable Care Act and opposing the Raise the Wage Act, which would raise the Federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. He now favors both, however. His primary challenge from Marie Newman has pushed Lipinski more to the center-left and we applaud that. Now, he just needs to stay there.

Lipinski has sponsored legislation advocating for the middle class, backed transportation and infrastructure developments, and brought jobs to the district. He has opposed President Donald Trump’s efforts to repeal the ACA, remove the U.S. from the Paris climate accords, and cut taxes for the wealthy. Lipinski supports stringent gun control legislation and DACA.

Republican candidate Arthur Jones is a neo-Nazi who is an outspoken Holocaust denier and has been linked with white supremacist, racist, and anti-Semitic groups and beliefs. He supports must of the Trump agenda, although Jones said he disagrees with Trump about “the Jewish member in his family,” Jared Kushner. Jones’ website includes opposition to kosher food and has a graphic of an elephant wearing a Confederate flag. The State Republican Party really fell asleep at the wheel on this one when they didn’t vet Jones, as did the voters in March who didn’t do their homework and voted for him just because he had the “R” listed behind his name. Tragic.

Write-in Justin Hanson has firmly staked out the middle of the road—he wants to protect the borders yet respect legal immigration, feels people have the right to own guns yet supports background checks, and approves of some Trump policies but not others.

Dan Lipinski is a veteran congressman and is the best candidate in this race and deserves re-election.

Garcia.

Congress, 4th

In March, Gazette Chicago endorsed Democratic Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia for Congress from the 4th District. He supports Medicare for all, DACA and a path to citizenship for the ten million plus undocumented people in the U.S., and fostering education and transit and rebuilding infrastructure in an effort to help business and create jobs. Garcia previously has been a Committeeman, Deputy Commissioner of the City Department of Water, Alderman, and State Senator.

Republican Mark Lorch is a financial analyst for Duff & Phelps Corp. where he appraises company valuations, advises on mergers and acquisitions, and delivers independent services to a range of public and private companies. He generally holds typical Republican positions on issues—against the Affordable Care Act, single payer, and Medicare for all on healthcare, and in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and “smaller government.” However, he is against the southern border wall.

Jesus “Chuy” Garcia has been an effective and fair representative for Chicagoans and Cook County residents over the years. He will be a fine progressive Congressman and receives our endorsement.

Davis.

Congress 7th

The incumbent in the 7th District is Democrat Danny K. Davis. For more than 20 years in Congress, he has worked legislatively to advocate socioeconomic justice and development, equal rights, the environment, peace, and cooperation with foreign allies. He has strongly opposed “President Trump’s attempts to inflame and divide our nation,” he said.

Davis believes in gun control, campaign finance reform, DACA, and the ACA, and has been a very strong advocate for second chances for ex-offenders.

Republican Craig Cameron is more progressive than most. Although he supports the 2nd Amendment, he believes in banning fully automatic rifles that can make a weapon automatic. He supports lawful immigration and believes Dreamers should have the right to attain citizenship, and also favors air and water pollution control. However, he does not favor the ACA.

Cameron is the type of Republican candidate we’d like to see more of, but unfortunately for him he is running against one of the greatest progressives in Congress, Danny K. Davis, who earns our endorsement.

Kaegi.

Cook County Assessor

In the March primary, Democratic challenger Fritz Kaegi did a great job defeating the incumbent assessor, Joseph Berrios. Berrios had built his own little patronage army made up of family and friends and favored the rich and powerful in reducing their property tax bills while putting unfair pressure on middle- and lower-income residents of Cook County.

Kaegi is a financial manager at Columbia Wanger Asset Management. He vows never to take campaign contributions from those doing business with the assessor’s office, and will review all personnel in the office, keeping those who are qualified and dismissing those who are political cronies of Berrios. He intends to diversify the workforce, modernize the office to improve services for taxpayers, and increase transparency by obtaining and providing more data.

Republican Joseph Pagila lives on the far Northwest Side of Chicago and favors an ordinance that would require a super majority vote of two thirds of the County Board in order to introduce any new tax or tax increase.

Fritz Kaegi is the best person to clean up this office, and earns our endorsement.

Lowry.

County Board, 3rd

We are glad there are still people like George Blakemore, the Republican nominee for the County Board’s 3rd District. Blakemore for years has been willing to spend his time offering his opinion at City Council, County Board, and other governmental meetings, and reminding elected officials that the public has a right to be heard. We do not feel that his activism necessarily qualifies him for elected office, but he definitely has a place in a political system increasingly disconnected from the public.

A more hands-on community activist is Democrat Bill Lowry, who formed the TITO organization that is fighting violence in the community. Attorney Lowry has worked for Barack Obama and would fight for more healthcare services and more programs to re-integrate ex-offenders into society.

Bill Lowry is our choice for County Board Commissioner in the 3rd District.

Daley.

County Board, 11th

With more than 25 years as Cook County Board 11th District Commissioner, John P. Daley understands the workings and the importance of a County government that is bigger and provides more needed services than many states. He has specific, workable ideas for making the County more efficient, and understands the importance of keeping the County’s pension fund solvent. City and State, take note.

Steven S. Graves also would make the County more efficient, but is less specific on how to do so, offering a typical Republican mantra of “there’s got to be excess spending somewhere.”

Graves is a mainstream choice, but he does not have the record of accomplishment, level of experience, or years of community service of John P. Daley, who earns our endorsement.

Judicial Retention

Gazette Chicago recommends voting “yes” on judicial retention for all judges except the following:

Maura Slattery Boyle, whose decisions have been overturned 34 times in the past six years by the Illinois Appellate Court based on her errors, a pace far higher than that of other judges.

Matthew E. Coghlan, whom the Cook County Democratic Party declined to endorse. Coughlan is a defendant in a suit accusing him of helping to frame two innocent men for murder.

Michael McHale, whom four attorneys charge with having had improper contacts with prosecutors during a 2017 murder trial.

Vote “no” on Boyle, Coghlan, and McHale.