Editorial: For Illinois Senate: Murphy, Solano, Barbato, Stadelman, Thoms, Joyce. – Chicago Tribune

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Here’s part three of the Tribune Editorial Board’s slate of endorsements for contested races for the Illinois Senate.

28th

Democratic incumbent Laura Murphy of Des Plaines, a deputy majority leader in the Senate, is fighting in the 28th District against Park Ridge City Clerk Sal Raspanti, who likely has an uphill battle, given the huge difference in the financial resources of the two candidates.

Front-runner Murphy is known for her grassroots level of constituent services, hosting blood drives, organizing sweet-corn donations with the Mercer County Farm Bureau and sponsoring legislation that helps families. She also has brought home the bacon when it comes to infrastructure projects in her district.

State Sen. Laura Murphy speaks during the Pakistan Cultural Day event held at the Maine Township Town Hall on Aug. 21, 2021.

State Sen. Laura Murphy speaks during the Pakistan Cultural Day event held at the Maine Township Town Hall on Aug. 21, 2021. (Brian O’Mahoney/for the Pioneer Press)

Raspanti, the retired vice president for global sales for FM Global, is a former alderman of Park Ridge. The son of Italian immigrants, he has lived in the district for 54 years and his campaign focuses on crime, inflation and taxes.

The contrast between the two is mostly in emphasis. Raspanti, who describes himself as a “common-sense candidate,” pushes his business background and Murphy her legislative accomplishments.

We think the front-runner Murphy, because of her record and experience in Springfield, is the best choice for the district.

31st

On the Democratic ticket in this Lake County district is former state Rep. Mary Edly-Allen, a single mother and former teacher who lives in Libertyville and represented the 51st House District for one term before narrowly losing her 2020 reelection bid. On the Republican side is Adam Solano, who told us that the SAFE-T Act needs either to be repealed or “heavily fixed.”

“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.” Overall, she tells us her campaign is about “how we solve these big problems.”

Adam Solano, Republican candiate for Illinois Senate.

Adam Solano, Republican candiate for Illinois Senate.
(Adam Solano)

Edly-Allen, a progressive Democrat on the far left of the party, has the endorsement of retiring incumbent Sen. Melinda Bush, but we prefer Solano, the owner of a financial planning business and a moderate Republican well-placed to be a voice for saving Illinoisans money they need for themselves.

Solano, who lives in Third Lake, has supported a property tax freeze and talks about how Illinois needs to operate “more efficiently” so as to spend less. We wish Solano would support an assault weapons ban, but he has spoken about the need for better gun control. He takes a middle of the road position on abortion rights, supporting some restrictions late in a pregnancy term and saying abortions should be privately funded. But within those strictures, he has affirmed his support for a woman’s freedom to choose.

Solano is endorsed.

32nd

We like much of what the conservative Republican incumbent, Craig Wilcox of McHenry, told us on such topics as the pension crisis: “That’s a massive deficit that wreaks havoc on the state’s long-term financial stability and discourages employers from bringing jobs to Illinois.” We also admire what Wilcox, a native Texan, had to say about the need for ethics reform in Springfield.

But this former U.S. Air Force colonel sure was squishy when it came to the results of the 2020 presidential election. “Until all accusations of fraudulent activity (are) addressed, voters will lose confidence in our democracy, we will see lower percentages of voter turnout (which can already be dismal), and an eroding of citizen confidence in the structure and effectiveness of our government,” he told us. “Did fraud change the outcome of 2020 elections? I sincerely hope not, but I cannot say it did or it did not.”

Wilcox did go on to say that power was “rightly succeeded” but, still. No evidence of widespread fraud has been forthcoming, as Wilcox surely knows.

Allena Barbato, Democratic candidate for Illinois Senate.

Allena Barbato, Democratic candidate for Illinois Senate.
(Allena Barbato)

Wilcox’s moderate Democratic opponent in this more conservative district (which includes parts of Lake and McHenry counties) is Allena Barbato, an attorney from Lake Villa who serves as a trustee on the Lake Villa Town Council. She has expressed support for student safety, for first responders and for smoothing the path of small-business owners. She has said she wants to put partisanship aside and make progress for her community.

Barbato is endorsed.

34th

The redrawn district includes all or parts of Rockford, Loves Park, New Milford, Perryville and Belvidere and has a growing Latino population.

The lopsided competition here is between Democrat Steve Stadelman and Republican Juan Reyes, 50, who distills his platform into “God, family and country” with a major emphasis on the first.

That said, Reyes is unsympathetic to any kind of meaningful gun control. While he worked at the Rockford Park District Police Department, he had a checkered record and court documents (Northern Public Radio reported) show he was eventually dismissed from his job following allegations of planting evidence and of sexual harassment. He later claimed in a court case that his dismissal was racially motivated.

State Sen. Steve Stadelman speaks during a news conference with Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Sept. 10, 2020, in Rockford.

State Sen. Steve Stadelman speaks during a news conference with Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Sept. 10, 2020, in Rockford. (Scott P. Yates/Rockford Register Star/AP)

Stadelman, a well-loved TV anchor and reporter in the Rockford area and an effective Democratic member of the Illinois Senate since 2013, has our endorsement.

36th

The redrawn 36th now encompasses all of Rock Island County and portions of Henry, Warren, Mercer, Knox and McDonough counties (incumbent Neil Anderson was redrawn out of the district and is running in the 47th). The Republican candidate is Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms, who won our endorsement in the primary.

Thoms, who retired from his family’s food service company, is a fourth-generation Rock Islander. He also has been president of Renaissance Rock Island, a nonprofit promoting the development of that economically challenged city on Illinois’ western border.

During the primary, Thoms impressed us with the sincerity of his work on gun violence and, especially, on the economic development of Rock Island, a community he clearly loves. He talked to us about his belief in the importance of public-private partnerships.

Thoms’ opponent is Mike Halpin, who says he stands for Amendment 1, which we have opposed. Halpin also downplays the real issues with the so-called SAFE-T Act and does not show much independence from standard Democratic talking points.

Halpin, also of Rock Island, is too much in the pocket of organized labor for us. Thoms wins our endorsement.

40th

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Patrick Joyce is running against the Air Force veteran, firefighter and first responder Philip Nagel in this newly redrawn district, made up of parts of Cook, Will, Grundy, Iroquois and Kankakee counties.

State Sen. Patrick Joyce stands during a Senate hearing at the Capitol building in Springfield on April 7, 2022.

State Sen. Patrick Joyce stands during a Senate hearing at the Capitol building in Springfield on April 7, 2022. (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune)

Nagel, 39 and a staunch, far-right conservative, told us during the primary season that he is one of “a whole group of normal people running against the Springfield establishment.” He says he was motivated to run by the “quarantine mandates pushed on our kids during COVID.” Nagel, who is from Braidwood, also told us he is vehemently opposed to “the teaching of sexual content in our schools.” Instead of promoting the kind of school-home partnerships necessary for educational achievement, he essentially says that parents should be in charge of everything. He did not win our endorsement in the Republican primary.

Joyce, a moderate Democrat admired for his negotiating powers by members on both sides of the aisle, is clearly the better choice to represent this district. Republicans feel like they can work with him. Joyce is for abortion rights, supports law-enforcement professionals and is very focused on improving the business climate in his district. Joyce has our endorsement.

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October 26, 2022 at 07:05AM

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