Editorial: Edly-Allen, Syverson, Thoms and Stoller endorsed for Illinois Senate – Chicago Tribune


This is part two of the Tribune Editorial Board’s endorsements in the races for Illinois Senate.

31st District

This north central Lake County district became a contested and highly competitive race on the Democratic side after incumbent Melinda Bush announced she would not run again. Sam Yingling, a 10-year state representative who lives in Grayslake and says he is the only openly LGBTQ+ legislator outside the city of Chicago, is running against certified bilingual/ESL teacher and single-term former state Rep. Mary Edly-Allen, a single mother who lives in Libertyville and represented the 51st House District for one term before narrowly losing her 2020 reelection bid.

For Democratic voters, the primary has particular importance since Republicans are expected to target the seat in the fall.

Both candidates have similar positions on many issues important to Democratic voters but, while noting her relative inexperience compared with Yingling, we view Edly-Allen, who has been endorsed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Bush, as the more moderate and practical candidate with a record of bipartisanship.

Yingling reacted so angrily and personally (he likened it to being “bullied” as a gay man) to not getting Pritzker’s endorsement that the tone of the press release he put out in reaction probably did him more harm than the endorsement itself. Edly-Allen is more focused on what she can do for those in her district.

“As a teacher, I’m concerned about the support for teachers and students,” Edly-Allen, 60, tells us. On the issue of gun violence, she says that “we need mandatory classes on gun safety.”

Mary Edly-Allen speaks at Mundelein Village Hall on Nov. 7, 2019, when she was the state representative for the 51st District. She is now running in the Democratic primary for the new 31st Illinois Senate District. (Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune)

On the plus side for Yingling is his claim of relatively early resistance against the indicted Michael Madigan, although Edly-Allen says she came out in opposition to Madigan prior to her opponent. “The old way of doing politics in general just needs to change,” she told us after saying she wished to broaden the conversation to the scourge of corruption in the state.

Edly-Allen, who says she is about “me and us and how we solve these big problems,” wins our endorsement.

35th District

The primary election race for a district that includes sections of Winnebago, Boone, DeKalb, Kane and McHenry counties features businessman and veteran incumbent Republican Sen. Dave Syverson, 64, a member of the Illinois Senate since 1993, facing challenger Eli Nicolosi, the 43-year-old former Winnebago County Board member and chairman of the Winnebago County Republican Central Committee. Nicolosi, who owns a design and marketing firm, Astute Web Group, is from Loves Park and is running for state office for the first time.

In May, the Rockford Register Star reported on an emergency order of protection filed by Nicolosi’s wife (the couple are going through a divorce) on April 19 and voluntarily withdrawn on May 4. According to the paper, Nicolosi described the allegations as “political shenanigans.” Separately, some Republicans objected to Nicolosi running in a primary while committee chairman and called for him to step down. He demurred.

Syverson said he has never run a negative campaign in his life and does not intend to start now. “The simple solution to turning Illinois around is improving the jobs climate,” Syverson told us. “We have to compete nationally and internationally. It’s frustrating because with simple adult changes, especially in the workers comp system and regulatory environment, we can make Illinois competitive again. If we do that, we’d quickly see Illinois turn itself around. We can grow our way into prosperity. We just can’t tax our way into prosperity.”

State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, speaks to reporters during a May 24, 2016, news conference at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. He is now running for reelection in the 35th District. (Seth Perlman/AP)

Syverson also is highly critical of gerrymandering: “Legislators should not be drawing their own districts,” he told us, “that leads to people being beholden to leaders, not the people who elected them.”

Syverson, who comes with rich experience, especially in understanding the needs of the industrial sector long important to Rockford, clearly is the better choice for the district. Since he long has represented districts on the edge of the state, he’s especially shrewd when it comes to ensuring that Illinois remains competitive with its Midwestern neighbors. And he told us that the issues surrounding inflation are providing “common ground” for all Americans seeking change. “As Reagan said,” Syverson noted, “let’s work together on the things in which we all can believe.” Amen. Syverson has our endorsement.

36th District

The redrawn Illinois Senate District 36 now encompasses all of Rock Island County and portions of Henry, Warren, Mercer, Knox and McDonough counties (the current senator, Neil Anderson, was redrawn out of the district). The Republican primary in this district will see a matchup between Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms (a fourth-generation resident of Rock Island) and Glen Evans Sr., 52, an ordained minister, originally from Chicago’s South Side and a Quad Cities resident, he told us, since he was 12. The Quad-City Times calls both of the candidates “familiar faces” to constituents. Thoms has been president of Renaissance Rock Island, a nonprofit economic development organization.

Thoms retired from his family’s food service company and heralds his business acumen. He says he understands the economy and economic development better than his rival; we’re also impressed with his work on gun violence and ensuring the fiscal stability of Rock Island, especially his support of public-private partnerships.

Evans is a perennial candidate with a history of some 20 different races, run as a Democrat before he had a change of political heart following a run-in with a party leadership he tells us was unsupportive of his candidacies. “My goal,” he told us, “is to deal with the concerns of the voters. I believe people deserve a representative who will care about their issues without being beholden to any lobbyists.”

We see Thoms as having the more apt background in helping western Illinois. Thoms wins our endorsement.

37th District

Brett Nicklaus, a certified financial planner from Dixon, and incumbent Win Stoller, who lives in Germantown Hills, go head to head in the Republican primary for this newly redrawn district, for which no Democratic candidate has been slated. The 37th District now includes parts of DeKalb, Whiteside, Ogle and Lee counties.

Both candidates are staunch conservatives. The race has drawn statewide attention not least because House Minority Leader Jim Durkin gave Nicklaus, 57, whom he has endorsed, $25,000 to challenge the incumbent who had himself supported another challenger in a different race.

That’s political stuff of limited interest to constituents. The question here is who will best serve this district. Both candidates have similar conservative positions, but we especially dislike the attempts made by Nicklaus to eliminate the state’s firearm owner’s identification card. Talk about a step in the wrong direction.

Nicklaus told us that he sees the Durkin endorsement as a “great compliment.” He also said he sees himself as the more conservative candidate, “especially on social issues.” He says his first goal will be to “eliminate taxpayer-funded abortion in Illinois” and “make adoption an easier process.” He also said that “God created two genders,” and that teachers should not have to worry about gender issues and be able to focus instead on teaching math, reading and writing.

Stoller, a CPA with an accounting degree and a former auditor with Price Waterhouse, points to his financial acumen as a way to put the state on a more solid financial track, even in times when federal money is not there to help. He said he does not intend to campaign negatively. And he told us he intends to “work both sides of the aisle, in a bipartisan way, to get things done and help small businesses.”

Taking him at his word on that, and noting his broad experience, Stoller has our endorsement.

Join the discussion on Twitter @chitribopinions and on Facebook.

Submit a letter, of no more than 400 words, to the editor here or email letters@chicagotribune.com.

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June 16, 2022 at 07:28AM

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