Editor’s Note: In this publication’s nearly five-year history of covering Illinois state government, we have had a policy of offering no election endorsements. For the 2012 elections and beyond, that policy has changed. Last month, THE iLLINOIS OBSERVER launched its “Endorsement Project 2012”. We gathered seasoned observers of Springfield to form an “Editorial Board” and to review the questionnaires and endorsements of legislative candidates from special interest groups and from other media outlets in Illinois. We reached our own conclusions. Thank you for reading.
For the March 20, 2012 primary, THE iLLINOIS OBSERVER has endorsed the following Illinois State Senate candidates:
Illinois Primary Endorsements 2012: Illinois State Senate Part I
1st District: Democratic Primary: Adolfo Mondragon vs. Tony Muñoz. Mondragon is a bright, thoughtful young man. His pension policy ideas have merit. This newcomer to politics has a bright future. Nevertheless, incumbent State Senator Muñoz has important experience. In every profession, experience matters. Muñoz is endorsed.
5th District: Democratic Primary: Annazette Collins vs. Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins. We admire Van Pelt-Watkins for her ambition and her energy. But Senator Collins has a long and respected legislative record on juvenile justice reform. Collins is endorsed.
12th District: Democratic Primary: Raul Montes, Jr. vs. Steve Landek. Democratic Primary. Incumbent Senator Landek has a reputation for solid constituent service. Landek is endorsed.
15th District: Democratic Primary: Patricia Mohan vs. Donna Miller vs. Napoleon Harris. Harris’ strong and clearly articulated support for a progressive income tax to replace the 2011 temporary income tax increase set to expire in 2014 is both honest and gutsy. Harris is endorsed.
18th District: Republican Primary: Barbara Ruth Bellar vs. Ricardo Fernandez. While Bellar offers simplistic, bumper-sticker answers to complex policy problems that will do nothing to resolve Illinois’ troubled finances, Fernandez offers none at all. Bellar is preferred.
19th District: Democratic Primary: Michael Hastings vs. Gregory Hannon. Hastings has demonstrated a far stronger grasp of Illinois public policy than his opponent. Hastings is endorsed.
22nd District: Democratic Primary: Michael Noland vs. Tim Elenz. Incumbent Senator Noland is an experienced and steady lawmaker. Noland is endorsed.
23rd District: Democratic Primary: Thomas Cullerton vs. Kevin Allen vs. Greg Brownfield. Allen is unfortunately short on government experience but long on thoughtful ideas. Allen is endorsed.
23rd District: Republican Primary: Randy Ramey vs. Carole Pankau. Incumbent State Rep. Ramey has demonstrated a rare trait among politicians. He can learn from a mistake. Ramey is sponsoring legislation that requires DUI offenders to be placed on a monitoring ankle bracelet. Ramey is endorsed.
24th District: Republican Primary: Kirk Dillard vs. Chris Nybo. Dillard, the ex-chief of staff to ex-Governor Jim Edgar, is a good and accomplished man is his own right. He has the experience and the gravitas that few lawmakers can match. Dillard is enthusiastically endorsed.
25th District: Republican Primary: Dave Richmond vs. Richard Slocum vs. Jim Oberweiss. All three candidates have willfully and recklessly buried their heads in the sand regarding the tax revenue necessary to finance state government. Long-time school board member Slocum, 61, would likely have a more limited tenure in Springfield than Richmond, 49. Additionally, Slocum is not Jim Oberweiss. Slocum is preferred.
25th District: Democratic Primary: Steven Hunter vs. Corinne Pierog. Pierog is clearly the more experienced, talented, and thoughtful candidate. Pierog is enthusiastically endorsed.
28th District: Republican Primary: Gayle Smolinksi vs. Jim O’Donnell. As Mayor of Roselle, Smolinksi brings a long history of government experience. O’Donnell has none. Given the vast and complex problems facing Illinois, this is no time for amateur hour. Smolinski is endorsed.
29th District: Democratic Primary: Julie Morrison vs. Milton Sumption. Sumption, who has an MBA in Finance from the Columbia Business School, has a sophisticated understanding of the budget problems faced by the state of Illinois. Sumption is endorsed.
31st District: Republican Primary: Linwood “Lennie” Jarrat vs. Lawrence “Larry” Leafblad vs. Joe Neal vs. Michael White. Leafblad is preferred.
Endorsements to be continued …