It turns out that the move by state Sen. ANDY MANAR, D-Bunker Hill, late in the legislative session to change governance of Capital Township had the backing of Sangamon County Democrats.
When Democratic precinct committeemen had a meeting last week, party Chairwoman DORIS TURNER, who is also on the Springfield City Council, said this was only the beginning of what she perceives is an effort in the General Assembly to right a wrong.
Manar’s legislation — added to a bill by amendment but then not called for a vote by either the House or Senate before the June 2 adjournment — aims to end a more-than-100-year situation where the Sangamon County clerk and treasurer both get automatic leadership roles in Capital Township, which generally shares boundaries with the city of Springfield. Manar said Capital Township is the only township in the state where the county clerk is also the township assessor and the county treasurer is also the township supervisor. He said it’s not right that voters countywide elect officials in a single township.
Turner and other Democrats last week stressed that under the law now, to run for Sangamon County clerk, a person already has to be a certified assessor.
BILL HOULIHAN, a member of the Democratic State Central Committee from Springfield, said that requirement was enacted during the veto session of 1996 — and that earlier, a new Sangamon County clerk had a year after being elected to get the certification.
“But in the dark of night, the Republicans, when they controlled the House, Senate and the governor’s office … passed this bill,” he said.
Houlihan said as a result, the pool of possible candidates to run for Sangamon County clerk is small. He said that when he sought a Democratic candidate in 2017 to run against GOP County Clerk DON GRAY, fewer than 40 people in the county had the certification.
Turner credited Precinct Committeeman RICHARD EDWARDS — retired executive director of the bill-drafting Legislative Reference Bureau — as being a catalyst to push to get the law changed.
According to a statement about the proposal that Edwards gave me at the meeting, “the most disturbing aspect” of that law is that it restricts who can oversee elections in Sangamon County, because running the election office is another duty of the county clerk.
“This amounts to nothing less than an assault on the bedrock of democracy; namely, fair and open elections,” the statement says. “Citizens who are dedicated to democratic government, including teachers, lawyers, accountants, ex-government officials, and other just plain good and well-intentioned citizens, are arbitrarily excluded from being a candidate for county clerk. …”
Turner said she and “the entire Sangamon County community” discovered the change in law in 2006, when former Secretary of the Senate LINDA HAWKER, a Democrat, sought to run against then-County Clerk JOE AIELLO, a Republican. Hawker lacked the assessor certification and withdrew.
Aiello said at the time that when he was appointed clerk in 1993, he was allowed to get the training after taking office, but the law had changed.
Aiello, who was elected Sangamon County treasurer last year, and thus is also Capital Township supervisor, said he thinks the law change in 1996 was “a good government initiative.”
“Having some qualifications for the office is not unreasonable,” Aiello said, noting that the 50,000 land parcels in the county need proper assessments. He also accused Democrats now seeking changes of being political.
Gray said he was in college back in 1996, but when he wanted to run for county clerk, “I found out what was needed to qualify as a candidate” and worked to get the education needed.
He also noted that in an advisory referendum in November, Capital Township voters gave 75 percent approval when asked, “Shall Capital Township pursue a full merger with Sangamon County?” He said that shows approval of the county-township relationship.
BRYAN SMITH, executive director of Township Officials of Illinois, didn’t recall specific law changes made in 1996 involving Capital Township but did say there was legislation, resulting from work “for a long period of time with a lot of different parties involved,” to say that any township assessor in Illinois needed qualification upon filing for office or appointment. Earlier, he said, assessors in counties with less than 15,000 people were given a year to get certification.
Manar has said he wants to push Capital Township changes next year.
Considering Senate run
Dr. TOM TARTER, 66, a urologic oncologist from Springfield and a partner in Cancer Care Specialists of Illinois, is considering running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2020.
A Portland, Oregon, native, Tarter has lived in Springfield for more than 17 years and was on the surgery faculty of the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine for 10 years.
He says he is “fervently against” a single-payer health care system for the United States, saying an attempt to move to such a system would really yield “an inferior single-payer system, and all of us who have paid into Medicare all of our working lives wouldn’t have anything resembling Medicare.”
U.S. Sen. DICK DURBIN, D-Illinois, of Springfield, has said he’s seeking a fifth six-year term in 2020.
Tarter notes that at an Urbana news conference two years ago, Durbin said that in the long term, he wanted to see a “Medicare for all” plan nationwide. Durbin said at the time that an interim step could be offering some type of public option as part of the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges.
Durbin said in a statement last week: “Americans pay twice as much as anyone in the developed world for medical outcomes that are often worse. And the current system costs us more for prescription drugs than any other country. I believe accessible, affordable health care should be a right not just for the wealthy. Let doctors practice medicine and not fight insurance companies. Let every American have the peace of mind which comes with health care they can afford.”
Tarter’s wife, JULIE, is a Republican precinct committeewoman who also is office administrator for the Sangamon County GOP.
Contact Bernard Schoenburg: firstname.lastname@example.org, 788-1540, twitter.com/bschoenburg.
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via State Government News – The State Journal-Register http://bit.ly/2GxsTCh
June 8, 2019 at 02:21PM