Ballot Preview

Tuesday night, thousands of state and local officials will be chosen for office. Whether you are registered in Hyde Park or your hometown, it’s important to be aware of who your local representatives might be in Chicago.

By Katie Akin

Zoe Kaiser / The Chicago Maroon

NEWS

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FEATURE

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Nov. 8, 2016

Tonight, the country will have a newly elected president. Thousands of state and local officials will also be chosen for office. Whether you are registered in Hyde Park or your hometown, it’s important to be aware of who your local representatives might be in Chicago.  

 

Senate 

Mark Kirk (R): Mark Kirk has been Senator from Illinois since 2010. He sits on the Senate Committee on Appropriations, the Senate Committee of Banking, Housing, and Urban Development, the Senate Committee of Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and the Special Committee on Aging. Before running for the Senate, Kirk served as a Navy Reserves intelligence officer and spent five terms in the House, representing the 10th District.  

Tammy Duckworth (D): Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth has served the Eighth District of Illinois since 2013. Before her political career, she fought in Iraq as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot, where she lost her legs to a rocket propelled grenade and was awarded a Purple Heart. When she returned to the States, she became interested in promoting the rights of veterans, and decided to get involved in politics. In 2006, she began working as the Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs. She continued to advocate for veterans in 2009, as the Assistant Secretary for Veterans’ Affairs, and as a Representative in 2013. 

 

Congress (First District) 

Bobby Rush (D): Representative Bobby Rush has been serving Illinois’s First District for over 20 years, consistently achieving over 70 percent of the vote in consecutive elections.  

August (O’Neill) Deuser (R): August Deuser is a retired high school teacher. This is his first time running for office. 

 

Illinois Comptroller 

The Illinois comptroller is charged with managing the state’s fiscal accounts and, oddly enough, regulating cemeteries.

Leslie Geissler Munger (R):  Munger was appointed Illinois State Comptroller in 2015, after the death of her predecessor, Judy Baar Topinka. Munger had previously worked as a corporate executive for Unilever before running for the Illinois House of Representatives in 2014 and narrowly losing.  

Susana Mendoza (D): Mendoza has been City Clerk for Chicago since 2011, and was previously a state representative in the Illinois House of Representatives.  

 

State Senate (13th District) 

Kwame Raoul (D): Raoul, a Hyde Park/Kenwood native, has been serving as a state senator since 2004, when he replaced Barack Obama. He is running unopposed in this election. 

 

State House (25th District) 

Barbara Flynn Currie (D): Barbara Currie has been serving in the Illinois House of Representatives since 1978, and has been Majority Leader since 1997. She is running unopposed in this election. 

 

Cook County State’s Attorney 

 

Kim Foxx (D): Foxx has served as Assistant State’s Attorney and the Chief of Staff to Cook County Board of Commissioners. Foxx won a contentious race in the Democratic primary earlier this year, which saw her opponent, incumbent Anita Alvarez, driven from the University’s Institute of Politics by protesters.  

 

Christopher E.K. Pfannkuche (R): Pfannkuche served as a prosecutor in Cook County for three decades before deciding to run for State’s Attorney. A March article on Pfannkuche’s candidacy in the *Chicago Tribune* described him as “little known and self-funded.” 

 

Cook County Clerk of Circuit Court 

The Clerk of Circuit Court in Cook County is in charge of record-keeping for the court.  

Dorothy A. Brown (D): Brown has served in the position since 2000. Brown came under scrutiny earlier this year for requesting a pay raise while her office was under federal investigation.  

Diane S. Shapiro (R): Shapiro has a varied career history in education and criminal justice. She is the Republican committeewoman for the 46th Ward. 

 

Ballot Measures (Binding) 

Transportation Lockbox: If passed, this amendment to the Illinois Constitution would prevent the state legislature from using transportation-related revenue for any other purpose. Passage requires 60 percent of the vote. It would protect funding for transportation projects, but limit the flexibility the legislature currently has to patch holes in Illinois’s budget. 

Consolidate Government Offices If passed, this amendment would eliminate the Office of the Cook County Recorder of Deeds and give its responsibilities to the Cook County Clerk. Each office is responsible for maintaining a different set of records for Cook County government. Proponents say the consolidation will lead to significant savings. Opponents suggest that the way those savings will be achieved hasn’t been spelled out, and that eliminating the recorder’s office will hurt the vulnerable populations it serves. 

 

Ballot Measures (Advisory) 

Earned Sick Time: Expresses support for the Earned Sick Time for Employees Act, which is before the Illinois General Assembly. The act, if passed, would allow any employee to earn up to 40 hours of sick leave a year. 

Firearms: Expresses support for more stringent penalties for illegal firearm trafficking and background checks for owners and employees at gun-dealerships in Illinois. 

School Funding: Expresses support for “full and equitable funding” for Chicago Public Schools from the State of Illinois. 

Infrastructure: Expresses support for new, coordinated investments in infrastructure from the city, state, and federal government.  

 

Cook County Circuit Court Retention 

Hyde Park voters will see a substantial number of judges on their ballot. Prior to the election, the 12 lawyers’ organizations in Chicago and Illinois issue recommendations as to judicial candidates. At least one of those groups expressed skepticism about the following judicial candidates. Many of these organizations do not typically explain their determination, and some groups deny recommendations to judges that do not respond to their questionnaires. 

No candidate in Illinois received fewer than nine endorsements. A judge will be retained if they receive three-fifths of the vote.  

Irwin J. Solganick: Not recommended for retention by the Cook County Bar Association. 

Daniel Joseph Lynch: Not recommended for retention by the Illinois State Bar Association and the Chicago Council of Lawyers (CCL). The CCL, the only organization that regularly releases explanations for its retention decisions, said that Lynch was “widely respected for his knowledge of the law and procedure,” but has sometimes “reached beyond his immediate role as judge in a particular matter to engage in legal acts that seem to be outside his normal course of deciding a case before him.” 

Laurence J. Dunford: Not recommended for retention by the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago (LGBAC). 

Jeanne R. Bernstein: Not recommended for retention by the Black Women Lawyers' Association and the Cook County Bar Association. 

Sharon O. Johnson: Not recommended for retention by the Hellenic Bar Association, which represents Greek-American lawyers. 

Sandra D. Ramos: Not recommended for retention by the LGBAC. 

Bonita Coleman: Not recommended for retention by the CCL. Some lawyers responding to the CCL’s survey questioned Coleman’s knowledge of the law and suggested that he favored male lawyers in court, though others disputed this characterization. 

Daniel Malone: Not recommended for retention by the LGBAC. 

Nicholas R. Ford: Not recommended for retention by the CCL. The CCL cited two instances in which rulings by Ford were overturned on appeal. In one of these cases, Ford sentenced a sixteen-year-old to a hundred-year sentence. The appellate court determined that Ford had dwelt on inadmissible factors when determining the sentence. 

William Maki: Not recommended for retention by the LGBAC. 

Diane Joan Larsen: Not recommended for retention by the Illinois Civil Justice League, a group opposed to what it characterizes as excessive litigation. It cites her decision to block a referendum proposed by Governor Rauner that would have required independent creation of legislative maps and an initiative that would have limited medical liability.