Thumbs down to all the money involved in the 2018 Illinois governor's race, which is on pace to be the most expensive in U.S. history. Whatever happened to political races being about voting for the best candidate, not the one who has the most money? According to an Associated Press story this week, all of the candidates combined have raised more than $100 million in the past year — and most of that comes from Democratic candidate J.B. Pritzker and Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner's own money. In 2014, when Rauner defeated Pat Quinn, an Illinois record was set when $112 million was spent on campaigns. We’re still more than a year away from the next election, and the candidates' spending is already almost to that number. It’s getting way out of hand. Ameya Pawar, who dropped out of the race already because he said he wasn't willing to strap his young family with huge personal debt, said, "For democracy's sake, I hope we see this as a troubling trend.” We couldn’t agree more.

Thumbs up to Carl and Kelly Rexroad, owners of Bookworm bookstore in Carbondale. On Wednesday, the Rexroads announced they are planning to retire and have listed the bookstore for sale through a local real estate broker. While it’s a thumbs down that the bookstore is closing, we’re happy for the Rexroads. The business will continue as normal at least through the rest of 2017, while the potential of a sale is evaluated. If buyers are not found by early 2018, the Rexroads will begin to liquidate the inventory and close the store. Here’s to the Rexroads, and the hope that somebody buys the store and continues what Bookworm has started.

Thumbs down to all the crashes that are happening on Interstate 57 in our region. Since last Friday, there have been at least five crashes in the area of the Illinois 148 exit on northbound I-57. Something just isn’t right out there — there is a lot of construction in that area. Regardless of what the reason is, one thing is clear: We all have to be safer drivers out there, and be more alert. The five accidents that happened since last week all involved semitrailers. Let’s hope this run of accidents comes to an end soon; we’re all becoming a little weary of what’s happening on I-57.

Thumbs up to Southern Illinois University Carbondale researcher Roberto Barrios, who was awarded an $80,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study disaster recovery in Houston after Hurricane Harvey, which devastated the city in late August. Barrios, associate professor of anthropology at SIUC, has studied disaster reconstruction after major catastrophic events for the past 18 years. “Disasters, I think, in the general culture are often thought of in terms of very acute, specific events … but for anthropologists, disasters are more historical premises. It’s about everything that comes before an earthquake or a hurricane,” Barrios said in a story this week.

Thumbs up to the local high school football teams that begin play in the IHSA playoffs. In Class 1A, Chester travels to Tuscola; in Class 2A, Carmi-White County is at Bismarck-Henning, while Red Bud travels to Eldorado; in Class 3A, Vandalia is at Fairfield, Greenville plays at Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn, Hillsboro is at Anna-Jonesboro, and Du Quoin travels to Pana; in Class 4A, Carterville will play at Belleville Althoff, while Herrin will host Paris; in Class 5A, Marion has to travel to Rich Central, and Centralia hosts Morton. Good luck to all our teams, here’s hoping at least one of them brings home a title on Thanksgiving weekend.

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