Here are The Southern’s endorsements for local state legislature seats up for election in the March 20 primary. The general election is Nov. 6.
Republican, District 115: The choice is a no-brainer: Terri Bryant is your candidate. She made the very difficult decision in her last term to vote to override Bruce Rauner’s veto of a package of bills that ended the yearslong budget impasse that plagued the state — and especially Southern Illinois. It was an unpopular decision, the very reason such a competent incumbent is facing a primary this year. It’s also the very reason we endorse Bryant and urge Republicans to give her another chance to fight for her seat come November. In an era in which party seems to trump sane policy, Bryant weighed the consequences of her decision — knowing some in her party would burn her at the stake for it — and did what was right for her district.
Meanwhile, Paul Jacobs is a conservative firebrand who frankly is not qualified to represent the 115th. He offered little in the way of concrete reform ideas, except to repeat ultra-conservative talking points that have little relevance to the state of Illinois politics, including the suggestion that the state drug-test welfare recipients. And, he seemed confused by a question on redistricting — perhaps one of the most important questions in Illinois politics now.
Democrat, District 115: Tamiko “T.C.” Mueller is the candidate who should take on whichever Republican is chosen to run in the 115th. She is an intelligent, motivated candidate with an impressive resume. She was deployed twice as a member of the Illinois National Guard, serves on the Jackson County Board and owns a realty business. She has good ideas that would tangibly benefit the 115th, and answered our questions with candor and clarity. When it comes to fixing some of Illinois’ financial woes, she offered up a progressive income tax as a good place to start, and we agree. On education and job training, she spoke of increasing investment in practical skill training in high schools, suggesting programs could allow high school students to graduate with trade certifications.
Marsha Griffin also has a formidable resume — she’s a teacher in Jonesboro who also founded an advocacy group for prison workers. Griffin is an unlikely politician who decided to run for office out of what seems to be a genuine concern for her community — we admire her drive and her courage. But she offered little in the way of concrete ideas: She said the state should find ways besides property tax to fund education, but didn’t say what those could be; and she could not outline three spending priorities when asked. Plus, Bryant easily beat Griffin in 2016, and we don’t see a much different outcome this year.
Republican, District 116: David Friess is running unopposed in the primary.
Democrat, District 116: Jerry Costello II is running unopposed in the primary.
Republican, District 117: Dave Severin is running unopposed in the primary.
Democrat, District 117: Jason Woolard is running unopposed in the primary.
Republican, District 118: All three candidates — Wes Sherrod, of Harrisburg; Samuel Stratemeyer, of Metropolis; and Patrick Windhorst, also of Metropolis — touted the Republican Party line when it comes to the issues. All three want to lower taxes and create change in Springfield. All three candidates backed the Second Amendment, although Sherrod questioned whether or not the general public needs assault rifles. And all three agreed that education needs to be a priority. However, none of the candidates offered up concrete ideas as it comes to how the state would generate money to pay off debt if taxes were cut.
The winner of this primary will face Natalie Phelps Finnie, who took office in place of her cousin, Brandon Phelps — a practice that, quite frankly, is getting old in Illinois. The Republican Party would be well-versed to put forward a good candidate to challenge Phelps Finnie. Although none of candidates said anything that really wowed or surprised us, we think that candidate is Windhorst. He has good leadership experience, as he is the Massac County State’s Attorney.
Democrat, District 118: Natalie Phelps Finnie is running unopposed in the primary.
District 58: Paul Schimpf is not up for re-election in 2018. Under the Illinois Constitution, senators are divided into three groups, each group having a two-year term at a different part of the decade between censuses, with the rest of the decade being taken up by two four-year terms.
District 59: Dale Fowler is running unopposed in the primary and the November election.