This is the Tribune Editorial Board’s fourth and final installment of endorsements for contested Illinois House races in the June 28 primary.
Republican state Rep. Tony McCombie finds herself running in this district after 5 ½ years as the 71st District’s lawmaker. We expect McCombie will do just as well in the 89th. The former downstate Savanna mayor says Illinois Democrats had a golden opportunity to enact robust ethics reform after Michael Madigan stepped down as house speaker — and they punted. What does McCombie say they should have done? Beef up the authority of the legislative inspector general’s office. Put a stop to the use of campaign funds by lawmakers to pay for their defenses in criminal or civil cases involving corruption, sexual harassment or discrimination claims. Ban lawmakers from lobbying state and local officials. Running against McCombie is retired police officer Victoria Onorato of Byron, who wants to eliminate the state’s firearm owners identification card. “They are coming for our guns,” her website says. We endorse McCombie.
This central Illinois district has an open seat. In the Democratic primary, Karla Bailey-Smith is a 54-year-old painter from Bloomington who believes restorative justice, in which offenders are rehabilitated through reconciliation with victims and the community, should play a strong role in tackling violent crime. That’s something we have agreed with in the past. Her opponent, Sharon Chung, is a professional violinist and McLean County Board member. She opted not to take part in our endorsement process. Bailey-Smith is endorsed.
In the GOP primary, James Fisher, 64, is a retired farmer from Hudson who says state government is bloated with bureaucracy and needs to get leaner. He also says Illinois will continue to struggle with job growth as long as it remains one of the highest taxed states in the country. But he wants to get rid of Illinois’ FOID card, and we think that would imperil, rather than improve public safety. His opponent, Scott Preston from Normal, runs a small business and is a member of the Normal City Council. We make no endorsement in this race.
GOP state Rep. Tim Butler of Springfield speaks our language. He has consistently fought to consolidate duplicative local government, particularly at the township level. Should taxpayer money pay for a township clerk when a county clerk does the exact same job, and likely more efficiently? We like the bill he introduced that would take millions of dollars in Russian investments out of Illinois pension funds. Butler says Senate President Don Harmon, a Democrat from Oak Park, held up the bill. Not good. Butler’s opponent, Kent Gray of Leland Grove, was on a Springfield-area community college board for 18 years, and in 2020 was co-chairman of the Trump campaign’s Illinois finance committee. His views on governance align with Butler’s, but we like Butler’s experience and give him our endorsement.
The winner of the GOP primary in this Decatur-area district faces Democratic incumbent Sue Scherer. Prescott Paulin, a 36-year-old defense consultant from Decatur, describes himself as the only candidate in Illinois who advocates for moving the state toward Web3 technology. That’s a concept that entails a new internet service built with decentralized blockchains. Think Bitcoin. His opponent, Lisa Smith of Blue Mound, is a pediatric nurse practitioner who says sky-high taxes are driving people and businesses out of the state. She also says, if elected, she would push an education agenda that’s pro-school choice. Smith is endorsed.
This redrawn central Illinois district has an open seat. The incumbent, Republican Dan Brady, decided to run for secretary of state. Four candidates are vying in the GOP primary, and there’s no candidate running on the Democratic side. Donald Ray Rients of Benson is an infrastructure analyst with State Farm. Like us, he believes the path to pension reform comes with a referendum asking voters to amend the state constitution so that future benefit growth is reduced to affordable levels, while current earned benefits are left intact. He also backs a referendum asking voters to approve a state constitutional amendment that would establish an independent citizens commission to carry out decennial remapping. Also running: Mike Kirkton from Gridley, CEO of his family business and a Livingston County Board member; Woodford County Chief Deputy Sheriff Dennis Tipsword; and Kyle Ham, former executive director of the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council. Rients is endorsed.
The Democratic incumbent, Katie Stuart of Edwardsville, is running unopposed in her primary. On the Republican side, Jennifer Korte, 47, is a stay-at-home mother from Edwardsville who wants to save taxpayer money by consolidating school districts and duplicative local government. But she also believes there was enough voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election to overturn the results. Simply put, she’s wrong about that. Our attempts to reach out to Korte’s opponent, Joe Hackler of Granite City, were unsuccessful. We make no endorsement in this race.
Kevin Schmidt is a chiropractor from downstate Millstadt who supports school choice and wants to look for ways to streamline and consolidate levels of local government. “They’re repeating themselves,” he said during a recent League of Women Voters forum. “One level of government is doing the exact same thing that another level of government is doing.” His opponent, Kevin Dawson, is a lawyer and Mascoutah County Board member who says Illinois “doesn’t have a revenue problem. It has a spending problem.” We think Schmidt is the better choice to face Democratic incumbent LaToya Greenwood of East St. Louis in the November election. Schmidt is endorsed.
Republican Ron Ellis is a commissioner on the Williamson County Board, and he thinks he’s got the right template for stemming the exodus of jobs, businesses and people from southern Illinois. That template, he says, is Williamson County. While other southern Illinois counties are seeing their populations and revenue drop, Williamson is thriving. County government was able to spark job growth through tax breaks for local businesses. Residents of the 117th District might benefit from the Williamson County approach. We endorse Ellis over Patrick Windhorst of Metropolis, who currently is the GOP state lawmaker for the 118th District.
Paul Jacobs was elected to the Illinois House in 2020. He currently has the 115th District seat, but with the remap is now running in the 118th District. The Pomona Republican believes it’s high time that Springfield starts to exhibit some fiscal responsibility and implement across-the-board cuts in state government. He also says Democrats need to curb their pork-laden spending sprees — a problem that bloats the budget and translates into ever-rising taxes. He’s running against Aaron Smith of Marion, vice chairman of the John A. Logan College board. We’ve endorsed Jacobs before, and endorse him again.
The Tribune makes no endorsements in the 87th, 90th, 93rd, and 98th primary races.
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June 23, 2022 at 07:15AM