Editorial: Pacione-Zayas, Ellman, Reboletti, Lewis, Villa, McConchie, Robertson for Illinois Senate

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This is part two of the Tribune’s endorsements for Illinois Senate.

Democratic incumbent Cristina H. Pacione-Zayas is not expected to have difficulty in this safe district mostly encompassing the Avondale, Logan Square and Bucktown neighborhoods. She’s been a part of the Crime Reduction Task Force in Springfield and she’s done some decent service for her constituents, including sponsoring legislation designating Milwaukee Avenue from Sangamon Street in Chicago to Greenwood Road in Niles as the Milwaukee Avenue Polish Heritage Corridor, boosting Polish American businesses and doing herself a political favor in the process.

Voters uncomfortable with the progressive positions of Pacione-Zayas have the option of Republican candidate Patrycja Karlin, an attorney. Karlin immigrated from Poland in 1991. Her rather bleak campaign, which depicts a state mired in crisis, puts particular emphasis on education. “The ‘woke’ radicals in control of the Democratic Party are trying to impose their ‘party line’ on us in a manner reminiscent of the communist Soviet Union,” she says. And she is not wrong when she says that Illinois is “drowning in crime, corruption and fiscal irresponsibility.” That said, Pacione-Zayas is far more experienced when it comes to serving her constituents, and she has our endorsement.

Then-Senate candidate Laura Ellman speaks during a Women's March to the Polls rally on Oct. 22, 2018, in Downers Grove.

Then-Senate candidate Laura Ellman speaks during a Women’s March to the Polls rally on Oct. 22, 2018, in Downers Grove. (Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune)

The Democratic candidate Laura Ellman, an assessor at Argonne National Laboratory who lives with her family in Naperville, clearly is the best choice in this DuPage and Will County district, shaped like a trumpet player and encompassing some or all of Bolingbrook, Downers Grove, Glen Ellyn, Lisle, Lombard, Naperville, Warrenville and Wheaton.

Ellman tell us she supports ethics reform and term limits for legislators. She blamed the rise in violent crime on “Rauner-era budget cuts,” which hardly is the whole story. But we find her a sincere and smart public servant. “I like to dig into the details on complex issues and find good solutions,” she told us, “and when I say I support science, I mean it. I read the white papers and consult with the experts who wrote them to make sure we are crafting our policies in a data-driven way.”

Republicans seem not to be putting much financial support behind Ellman’s opponent, Kathleen Murray of Lombard, who has not mounted a strong campaign and whose positions on such matters as gun control are far more extreme that the constituents of this district.

Ellman is endorsed.

Then-Rep. Dennis Reboletti speaks in 2014 at the Illinois Capitol in Springfield.

Then-Rep. Dennis Reboletti speaks in 2014 at the Illinois Capitol in Springfield. (Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune)

Currently Addison Township supervisor, Republican challenger Dennis Reboletti is a former member of the Illinois House, where he represented the 46th District. He’s run for the 23rd Senate District before but lost in the 2004 Republican primary. We think he has smart, moderate, centrist ideas and strong ties to this community.

Reboletti tells us he is committed to pension reform: “Illinois can fix this problem by electing representatives and senators who will budget based on reality not fantasy. Once the bond houses see stability, so will the business community. This will allow Illinois to become a destination economy.”

On the issue of violent crime, Reboletti also says he wants to “stop the messaging that the police are the enemy,” and he correctly says that, in Illinois, “the culture of corruption needs disinfectant.” He also points out the overreaching dangers of the Democratic supermajority and argues, as do we, that controls on government spending and structural reforms make far more sense that temporary tax gimmicks.

Democratic incumbent Suzy Glowiak Hilton, a former trustee for Western Springs, was first elected in 2018 and drew attention when she did not vote, one way or the other, on the SAFE-T Act. Nonetheless, she is highly regarded by her party and many of her constituents. She describes herself as fiscally conservative but socially liberal and she likely will appeal to voters seeking greater gun control in Illinois, among other popular Democratic issues. She also says she is an avid environmentalist.

Both of these candidates are moderate pragmatists, reflecting a competitive district.

But we think Reboletti, who has spoken eloquently about the danger of a Democratic supermajority, deserves his shot to restore some helpful balance in Springfield, especially on fiscal matters, where he shows particular strength.

Reboletti is endorsed.

The interesting 24th District includes all or parts of Bartlett, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Elk Grove Village, Glen Ellyn, Itasca, Lisle, Medinah, Roselle, Schaumburg, Warrenville, West Chicago, Wheaton, Winfield and Wood Dale.

Both candidates are from Bartlett. Republican Seth Lewis is currently a state representative (45th). He moved to this district to avoid being pitted against a fellow Republican as part of the redistricting process controlled by the Democrats, who have slated in opposition Lauren “Laurie” Nowak, a graduate student in public policy and public administration at Northern Illinois University and a former member of the DuPage County Board. No candidate ran in the Democratic primary.

Nowak’s focus is on health care costs, abortion rights and other family-oriented issues.

Lewis, an experienced and relatively moderate Republican voice with a strong track record of service, clearly is the best choice in this district. He has our endorsement.

State Sen. Karina Villa speaks at the Illinois Capitol building on April 7, 2022.

State Sen. Karina Villa speaks at the Illinois Capitol building on April 7, 2022. (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune)

The 25th District includes all or parts of Bartlett, Batavia, Geneva, Naperville, South Elgin, St. Charles, Warrenville, Wayne, West Chicago, Elburn, Montgomery, Sugar Grove and Yorkville. The incumbent here is Democrat Karina Villa, a former state representative and the first Latina to represent her current district, to which she was elected in 2020. Like Villa, the Republican challenger, Heather Brown, is from West Chicago.

So far, the debate largely has extended along established party talking points. Brown has, in particular, railed against the SAFE-T Actand is vehemently opposed to sensible gun control; she is at the far-right fringe of the Republican Party.

Democrat Villa, who has served her constituents well, is endorsed.

State Sen. Dan McConchie speaks at a rally on Republican Day at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield on Aug. 18, 2022.

State Sen. Dan McConchie speaks at a rally on Republican Day at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield on Aug. 18, 2022. (Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune)

Republican Dan McConchie tells us that he is proud of his ability to “work with both sides of the aisle to get things done,” and that is exactly what his moderate and pragmatic record implies. The 26th District includes all or part of Algonquin, Barrington, Cary, Deer Park, Fox River Grove, Hawthorn Woods, Hoffman Estates, Island Lake, Kildeer, Lake Zurich, Libertyville, Long Grove, Mundelein and Wauconda. It has been represented by McConchie, the Senate’s Republican leader, since 2016 and it is unlikely to change hands.

Nor should it. McConchie has offered stellar representation to his constituents. His Democratic opponent is Barrington attorney Maria Peterson, the founder of an exercise and physical fitness business known as FitCore Inc. She says her key issues are protecting women’s rights, the environment, jobs and the economy, health care and mental health care, but she lacks extensive political experience and she does not compare to her opponent when it comes to grasping the issues facing Illinois.

McConchie is endorsed.

Incumbent Ann Gillespie, a longtime resident of Arlington Heights who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, is running against Bill Robertson, a Palatine resident and former board member of Township High School District 211, in this district in northwest suburban Cook County. These are two strong candidates.

Gillespie makes much of her support for unions as a means of addressing income inequality and she supports most core Democratic positions. She also has chaired the Senate’s first ethics committee. Overall, she has been a strong voice for ethical reform, although given the ongoing news of corruption in Springfield, we’d argue that committee has not gone far enough. That said, there is no question that Gillespie has served her district well and will have support from those who back progressive causes.

Robertson, who has the backing of the state’s Republican apparatus, says his experience on the school board reveals his bipartisan capacity, and he has clearly said that Joe Biden was elected president and that those who broke the law on Jan. 6 must be held accountable. A moderate, pro-choice pragmatist who vanquished far-right opposition and has a sophisticated understanding of the education crisis in Illinois, Robertson impressed us and had our endorsement in the Republican primary.

Robertson is endorsed.

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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October 25, 2022 at 07:32AM

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