It’s a week away before the February 2nd gubernatorial primary election. With early voting, which started on January 11 and continuing through January 28th, some voters have already made up their minds. Others are waiting until Election Day to make a decision. In reviewing past records and performance, the Citizen has released its list of endorsements, starting out with the race for U.S. Senate and continuing through with races for the positions of Governor; Lt. Governor; Secretary of State; Comptroller; State Representative; Cook County Board President as well as elections for judges. Based on this, we hope that voters will use this list as a guide in helping them to make a final decision on February 2nd.
For U.S. Senate: Cheryle Jackson.
Frustrated by a culture focused more on personal ambition than on public service and what she called, “ineffectiveness,” of former Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s office to bring about real and sustainable progress for the people, Jackson left Blagojevich’s administration as former press secretary and brought about change as CEO of the Chicago Urban League. Committed to changing “business as usual” in state politics, she has remade the Urban League where she has focused on the urgent mission of economic empowerment, a particularly important mission for Blacks who still have not achieved parity in this area. In tough economic times, where minorities have been hit hardest by the recession, Jackson has helped build small businesses through her “ProjectNext,” initiative and has provided a five-point jobs plan to help get Illinois families back on track. Additionally, she has been an advocate for education reform and has demonstrated her commitment to this effort by suing the State for violating the civil rights of disadvantaged minority children who were being denied equal access to a quality education.
For Congress: Bobby Rush (1st District)
Since his election to Congress in 1992, Rush, a former Black Panther, has continued to work on unemployment and youth violence issues that have plagued his district. Time and time again, we have seen what senseless violence in our communities has cost us. While our young people have been the victims of these crimes, Rush has worked to put an end to the violence. As a co-sponsor of bills designed to curb the flow of guns in the community, he has led the way in teaching students to resolve disputes without the use of violence. He also organized a bi-partisan caucus devoted to creating more jobs for his constituents and has turned his attention towards helping small businesses. By hosting workshops where hundreds of people have been able to gain access to stimulus funding and contracting opportunities, Rush has opened the doors for Blacks who may not have otherwise been afforded this opportunity.
For Governor: Pat Quinn
During Quinn’s short time in office, he has worked hard to balance the state budget, create new jobs, and create new opportunities for Illinois families, bring fairness to the tax code and reform to state government. Through Quinn’s jobs initiative, Illinois Jobs Now!, the state has invested $75 million in vocational education at Chicago Public Schools to create opportunities for students in order to make them ready to compete and succeed in the job market. Quinn is also working to invest in community colleges, which he says are the “gateway” to the middle class for hard-working young students. He has also led the effort to save the Minority Assistance Program (MAP) grants for more than 130,000 lower-income college students to help them continue their education. For many families struggling over how to keep their children in college, this was a real win for students and parents. Quinn has also worked to provide statewide opportunities for minority and women-owned business in construction programs by creating a new position, Director of Diversity Enhancement and named Darryl Harris to the post. Under Harris, Illinois will double the amount of work for minority-owned firms in an estimated $100 million worth of highway construction contracts on the Eisenhower Expressway.
For Lt. Governor: Sen. Rickey Hendon
We chose State Sen. Rickey Hendon to be the next Lt. Governor in a crowded field of six Democrats who are running in this race. In his 17 years in office, Hendon has had a reputation of being a progressive effective legislator in Springfield as he represents a district covering the West side. He knows politics and policy and has successfully advocated for the disadvantaged and worked his way up the ranks within Democratic Party. As a state Senator, Hendon has continued to push for government reform in health care, education and jobs for his district. He was instrumental in a capital bill for $31 billion towards funding for education passed last spring in the General Assembly. Part of the bill would have ensured that $40 million in funding would go to Chicago State University for a West side campus. On the health care front, Hendon sponsored a bill designed to assist low-income families on Medicaid by restricting the co-payment for brand name drugs to $3 and eliminated the co-pay for generic drugs. As a reflection of his career as a film producer, he sponsored legislation aimed at expanding opportunities for minority owned businesses to compete and ultimately bring additional film projects and television studios to Illinois. With these accomplishments as a state Senator, Hendon believes he could use his expertise he has accumulated to help move the governor’s agenda through the General Assembly.
For Attorney General: Lisa Madigan.
Since her election to office in 2003, Madigan has been the state’s chief consumer advocate . Working to keep people in their homes, she filed a lawsuit against the mortgage lender Countrywide in a suit which ended up in an $8.7 billion settlement for consumers. The funds from the settlement allowed more than 10,750 borrowers in Illinois to receive $185 million in loan modifications. Madigan has also responded to the devastating crime of identity theft by creating a hotline in 2005 for consumers to help victims repair their credit and dispute fraud debts. Since its creation, the hotline, which has been the first created in the nation, has fielded over more than 6,000 complaints. Madigan is running unopposed.
For Secretary of State: Jesse White.
Named Secretary of State in the late 1990s, White has transformed how the office is run. During this time, he has modernized the use of new technology resulting in shorter lines at motor vehicle facilities statewide. Over the last few years under his leadership, Internet transactions have increased by more than 78 percent. In 2006, Internet transactions accounted for over $41 million and by 2008, they accounted for more than $73 million. Through his efforts, he has been committed to digitizing services, making them easier, more convenient, less wasteful and more cost efficient for the people in the state. While he has made technology work for people in Illinois, he has also addressed what is not working with technology. During his administration, White has kept Illinois’ roads safer by fighting against texting while driving and he has been at the forefront in efforts against drunk driving. As he runs for a fourth term, he pledges to continue to restore integrity; keep Illinois’ roads safe; fight against drunk driving; modernize customer service and support organ donation. White is running unopposed.
For Comptroller: David Miller.
We choose Miller as our choice for Comptroller. He has earned a reputation for caring about his community and for taking action in doing something about the problems affecting constituents. As a representative for the 29th District, he has worked to propose legislation to reform education funding; he has provided better access to quality health care, economic development, and consumer protection for people in Illinois. These efforts have been demonstrated through his efforts to address educational funding inequities; reforming the pay day loan industry; and bringing economic development of a third airport in the Southland. As Comptroller, Millerpledges notonlyto build coalitions, but also to streamline and expedite payments to all service providers and small business owners, thus creating a consistent payment schedule. He also plans to clean up the contract process by becoming a watchdog to ensure that contractors are hired based on qualifications and not connections. He also wants to create a database that will include a catalogue of every contractor’s political donations. It’s this kind of transparency we believe would be good for the people and for the process.
For State Representative: The Citizen endorses Marlow Colvin (33rd District) and Connie Howard (34th District.)
Since becoming a state legislator in 2001, Colvin has worked to help create business and employment growth opportunities in his district. He helped facilitate the Finkl Steel relocation from the 8th North side to the Ward by sponsoring two pieces of legislation aimed at expanding the state’s enterprise zone to create an energy tax credit to allow the company to operate on 93rd and Kenwood. He also sponsored legislation to extend the TIF district where the plant is located. Additionally, Colvin, who is running unopposed, also helped pass legislation to allow Ford Motors to accelerate the use of their tax credits to retool their Chicago assembly plant to build Ford’s new 2011/12 Explorer. As a result, Ford will need to hire an entire second shift to assemble the smaller, lighter SUV. This could add more than a 1,000 new workers at the facility.
For the majority of the time Howard has served in the Illinois General Assembly, much of her focus has been on employment opportunities, ex-offender re-entry, neighborhood and community safety, eliminating the digital divide, and HIV/AIDS. Howard sponsored legislation to promote awareness, funding, and research through the African-American HIV/AIDS Response Act which also led to the creation of the HIV/ AIDS Policy Research Center at Chicago State University.
For Cook County Board President: Todd Stroger.
At a time when the city and state are currently facing deficits, Stroger has made sure that the county has remained intact. He describes his approach to government as fair and transparent while making decisions based on what’s right and fiscally responsible. Examples of Stroger’s efforts have been demonstrated by successfully balancing four $3 billion budgets and making sure that county employees do not have to take furlough days. In his first 100 days of office, Stroger closed a $500 million budget deficit without raising taxes or fees, reduced the county’s employee headcount from 24,700 to 22,100 and brought in an independent inspector general and human resources director to ensure fair hiring. Stroger’s administration has exceeded his goal of working with more minority, disadvantaged businesses. Thirty-five percent of contracts have been awarded to minority business enterprises and ten percent of contracts have been awarded to women-owned businesses. Stroger, who has previously served as an alderman, state representative, county jury supervisor, and an investment banker, is the only candidate that has run a successful county government for the past four years and has balanced the second highest county budget in the nation. While he has had to make some difficult and unpopular decisions, he has made them in the best interest of Cook County residents.
Cook County Sheriff: Sylvester Baker Jr.
As a 22-year veteran of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, Sylvester Baker Jr. is no stranger to the job. He has worked as a Cook County Jail Corrections Officer to supervising sergeant in the gangs’ crime unit. Baker and the men he supervised made the streets safer. As a narcotics officer, has been involved in more than 300 investigations targeting drug dealers countywide. He wants to bring this wealth of experience to the Cook County Sheriff’s office and also use this position to create programs that will help inmates adjust to life after prison. He hopes to change the image of the sheriff’s office by focusing on public safety, reducing recidivism, establishing community partnerships, and elevating the level of professionalism in the department.
Cook County Treasurer: Maria Pappas
For Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas has increased efficiency in her office and manages the second largest property tax collection in the nation. She has provided taxpayers with hundreds of new payment locations; delivering new 24-hour Internet and automated phone systems to taxpayers. As a result of Pappas’ efforts, homeowners can pay at any of the 379 Chase locations citywide. Through this system, more than 6.8 million payments have been made at bank branches. Besides paying their taxes at banks, Pappas has also made it convenient for taxpayers to pay their current and prior year taxes online. Addressing diversity, she initiated the Treasurer’s Outreach Program and Services (TOPS), a grassroots initiative to providing tax information to the county’s ethnic communities.
Cook County Clerk: David Orr
For Cook County Clerk: David Orr has found ways to reform how government works. Besides maintaining birth, marriage and death records and assisting property owners in redeeming delinquent taxes, he serves as the chief election authority for the entire county, one of the largest jurisdictions nationwide. Since Orr took office in 1990, he has increased the number of registered voters in Cook County. Under his leadership, more than one million new voters have been added to the county voting rolls. Orr also established an award-winning interactive voter website, voterinfonet.com to help increase voter turnout and awareness. He also led the fight for new early voting legislation, which allows people, especially Election Day judges, to vote over a 20-day period without having to take a vacation day to vote.
Cook County Assessor: Robert Shaw
For Cook County Assessor, Robert Shaw: After helping more than 430,000 property owners receive tax relief while serving as a Cook County Board of Review Commissioner, Shaw can use his experience by taking it to the next level as Cook County Assessor. He pledges that he will assure fair and equitable property assessments countywide. He believes that his role will help negate the need for so many thousands of property owners who appeal to the Board of Review. Shaw sees the ÒAmerican DreamÓ being destroyed among current and potential property owners in this economic climate where taxes are increasing; property values falling; and where assessments in poor neighborhoods are skyrocketing. Some communities, he notes, are facing as much as a 46 percent increase. He wants to help restore the 7 percent tax cap on property restored so homeowners can get some relief. He also envisions bringing together a group that consists of legislators, educators, lawyers, community leaders and others to find a better way to fund education other than with property taxes. Shaw is campaigning on the notion that through innovation, schools can create avenues to improve quality education without putting a burden on homeowners.
In the Cook County Board Commissioner’s race, we are endorsing incumbent William Beavers (4th District). Beavers voted to support sustaining a sales tax increase to help keep the county health care system open and operating for patients who rely on the facilities the most and supported William a contract awarded to a Beavers major technology firm that saves the county $1 million annually. Ignoring the race for Metropolitan Water Reclamation District would not be a good thing to do if you care anything about protecting your basement against flooding during stormy weather. This governmental agency processes sewage and also collects storm water waste that can carry dangerous pollutants. Three seats on the nine-member board are currently up for election for six-year terms. We chose Barbara McGowan, Wallace Davis III, and Kari Steele as our picks. With 11 years of experience as a chemist and having worked in Chicago’s purification system and at the MRWD, Steele’s background will help the board contend with discarded prescription drugs that people flush into sanitary sewers. Through her community outreach with the 6th Ward Young Democrats, she could also use her experience and role as an activist to educate more citizens about why water quality and conservation are critical issues for Chicago’s future.
Wallace Davis III would also be a great asset to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago because he brings more than 10 years of hands on experience of working in the sewer and water management departments. Davis, who currently works as a general superintendent with the Department of Water Management which oversees the entire sewer lining program with the City, plans to implement a better storm water management infrastructure to help reduce water pollution and decrease residential, business and street flooding. He believes that the MRWD should be less economically wasteful and that it should institute more environmentally progressive policies and practices. Davis also feels that more outreach needs to be done to educate people about water conservation and protection.
As a 12-year veteran on the MRWD, McGowan has been a strong advocate for controlling sewage pollution and protecting the area’s prime drinking water supply. She was previously instrumental for the District holding thefirstHazardousWaste Collection in the western BARBARA J. suburbs. As Chairperson MCGOWAN of the Committee on Affirmative Action for the MRWD, McGowan has been instrumental in ensuring that minorities and women participate in bond issues. She was responsible for the district investing $40 million into minority banks and revising the district’s affirmative action ordinance to include fines and penalties to contractors violating the inclusion of minority and women apprentices on district construction contracts.
For judge, we chose to endorse Arnette Hubbard who is running for 1st District Illinois Appellate Court Judge (Vacancy of McNulty);
William Hooks for Cook Circuit Court Judge (Berland Vacancy); Linda J. Pauel (Dolan Vacancy) for Cook County Circuit Judge; Pamela Cotten for Cook County Sub Circuit (Third District Vacancy A); Marvin Gray for Cook County Circuit Court Judge (Riley Vacancy); William O’Neal for First District Appellate Court Judge (South Vacancy); Thaddeus L. Wilson for Judge of the 1st Judicial Court Subcircuit (Coleman Vacancy); and Steven G. Watkins for Cook County Circuit Court Judge of the 3rd Sub Circuit (Carmody Vacancy). Hubbard has 15 years of experience in the trial and appeal of criminal cases, from misdemeanor to murder in state and federal courts. While implementing Chicago’s cable ordinance as Commissioner and oversight of Chicago’s election board, it helped broaden her knowledge of administrative law and public concerns. Hubbard Judge Arnette believes in keeping Hubbard current on legal issues that impact the community a practice which has helped her make sound decisions in the courtroom. She promotes better efficiency in managing caseloads.
Hooks has represented victims of racial discrimination in a variety of cases in state and federal courts and in civil and criminal matters. One of the highly publicized cases that he and the late Judge R. Eugene Pincham worked on was on a class action suit against DaimlerChrysler which claimed the car dealership’s management intentionally denied low-interest vehicle financing to creditworthy African-Americans. Following this victorious class action lawsuit, Hooks went onto successfully defend the Ford Motor Credit as its lead counsel in U.S. District Court. In one of Hooks’ high-profile cases, known as the “Girl X case,” he and his co-counsel Robert A. Clifford of Clifford Law Offices, won a settlement from the Chicago Housing Authority and a private security guard on behalf of a 9-year-old girl who was raped, beaten, poisoned, and left comatose in Cabrini-Green.
Pauel, who brings 18 years of legal experience, has been committed to fighting for civil and women’s rights. She has advocated for women’s rights, worked to enforce orders to prohibit discrimination based on sex, race, economic status, physical disability Linda J. Paeul and sexual orientation. In addition, Pauel has worked to prevent animal abuse and fighting and developed safeguards to protect defendants’ privacy rights. She vows to continue those accomplishments as she seeks the Dolan Vacancy for Cook County Judge.
By working as a lawyer for the Chicago Housing Authority where she has resolved disputes on residents’ matters and worked in corporate counseling, litigation, and housing policy, Cotten, who has been a licensed attorney since 1995, has obtained a broad knowledge of legal experience. She has the honor of being chosen as judicial clerk for then Chief Justice Charles E. Freeman of the Illinois Supreme Court and Justice William Cousins Jr. of the Illinois Appellate Court. In this capacity, she researched legal issues raised on appeal and wrote legal opinions on all areas of the law. As a lawyer, Cotton continues to be a teacher in the community giving lectures on housing issues and on domestic violence. She hopes to continue working in the community as she provides legal perspectives in her role as judge of the Third Sub Circuit Court District of Cook County.
Gray has practiced law for the past 37 years in Cook County and for a short stint in Knox County. His experience in education, law, and service organizations gives him a perspective needed in applying laws equally. In the case of Ross vs. Aryan International, Gray demonstrated his knowledge of the law when he set precedent in the determination of the parameters of the legal duty owed to plaintiffs injured by negligence of contractors who have control of only a portion of construction sites.
O’Neal has dispensed justice from his courtroom in the 6th Municipal District in Markham, which is nearby his hometown in Harvey, where he was a private law practice attorney. O’Neal’s real expertise is in the civil realm. As a former IRS agent, O’Neal worked on a numerous tax cases and as a pension and profit sharing examiner. He believes these skills will help him as a judge on the Illinois First Appellate Court.
Thaddeus L. Wilson
Wilson was appointed to the bench by the Illinois Supreme Court and sworn-in as a judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County on August 31, 2007. He is currently assigned to the Criminal Division (“26 & California ”). Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Wilson was the managing attorney of the Law Office of Brookins & Wilson (A Partnership of Professional Corporations). He practiced in the areas of personal injury, criminal defense, civil rights/ policebrutality, bankruptcy, and election law. As part of his multifaceted litigation practice, he represented corporations, insurance companies and individuals in connection with personal injury, wrongful death, police misconduct, election law and commercial litigation. He represented citizens in federal civil rights litigation, debtors and creditors in Chapter 7, Chapter 13 and Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in addition to banks and other financial institutions in bankruptcy and foreclosure proceedings; and in turnaround management and asset recovery. He argued cases before the Illinois Appellate Court and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. As an attorney, he served as an arbitrator with the Circuit Court of Cook County Mandatory Arbitration Program and as a hearing officer for the Chicago Board of Elections. Wilson currently sits on the Criminal Division Technology in the Court’s Committee, the Illinois Judicial Council Website Committee, the Cook County Bar Association ARDC Liaison Committee, and is a past chairman of the KIPP Ascend Charter School board of directors.
Watkins has practiced law for 18 years and is an experienced trial attorney with Steven G. Watkins & Associates, P.C. He is also a licensed real estate broker, certified arbitrator, Circuit Court of Cook County and is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association; the Cook County Bar Association; the Federal Bar Association; Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and 100 Black Men of America, Inc. He is a 1991 graduate of DePaul University, where he received his law degree and a 1987 graduate of Howard University , where he obtained a B.S. degree. Additionally, he is Chairman of the Local School Council at Keller Regional Gifted Center and he coaches the Little League Baseball and Youth Basketball teams in his community.