If legislative races are not really competitive, is it accurate to call them elections?

Competitive legislative elections in Illinois, owing to the dark art of gerrymandering, are relatively rare.

So it’s no great surprise that there’s little to no drama in area House and Senate races.

103rd Illinois House District

Democratic state Rep. Carol Ammons is seeking another term in office and almost certainly will win one. It’s virtually impossible for a Republican to get elected in the liberal district made up of Champaign-Urbana.

But it will be interesting to see how large a percentage of the vote Ammons gets, considering a pending investigation of an alleged shoplifting incident in which she was implicated.

No Republican entered the race. But Libertarian Brad Bielert represents a vehicle to attract protest votes, particularly from the small number of local Democrats who do not revere Ammons. Perhaps that’s why the Ammons campaign worked hard, but unsuccessfully, to throw Bieliert off the ballot.

It’s pointless to make an endorsement in a one-horse race, particularly when the anticipated winner is as in tune with her district as Ammons is.

104th Illinois House District

Incumbent Republican state Rep. Mike Marron is running in a district made up of Vermilion and Champaign counties and drawn to get his party the advantage.

So Marron can be expected to come out on top in 2020, just as he did when Democrats challenged him in 2018. Marron is again facing Democratic small-business owner Cynthia Cunningham, whom he handily defeated in 2018 with nearly 56 percent of the vote.

Marron’s district is conservative, as is he. It’s just not a good fit for a candidate like Cunningham.

A former member and chairman of the Vermilion County Board, farmer/business-owner Marron knows how county government operates. As a relatively new member of the Republican superminority in the House, he’s gaining a sound understanding of state government as well, even if Republicans have little input in statewide public policy.

52nd Illinois Senate District

Incumbent Democratic state Sen. Scott Bennett of Champaign is in line for another easy win. His Senate district, drawn to elect a Democrat, is made up of portions of Champaign and Vermilion counties.

Giving Bennett an added advantage, Republican candidate A.J. Ruggieri, a lawyer and member of the Savoy Village Board, has faced a series of handicaps in waging a serious campaign, including several months of duty with the Illinois National Guard that prevented him from campaigning.

Ruggieri simply hasn’t had time to make his case to votes against Bennett, who has shown that he’s a shrewd and capable politician.

Ruggieri argues that Bennett votes more with Chicago liberals than with conservative elements of his district. If that’s the case, voters in the 52nd district don’t seem to mind, at least so far.

It could be revealing if Ruggieri had more time to make a case for his election against Bennett, who has a strong standing in the district.

Circuit judgeships

Two circuit judge posts in Champaign County are up for election.

One contest is circuit-wide, meaning voters in all of its six counties (Champaign, DeWitt, Douglas, Macon, Moultrie and Piatt) will cast ballots.

The other — a resident judge — will be elected only by Champaign County voters.

In the circuit-wide post to replace the retiring Judge Thomas Difanis, Republican Jason Bohm, who now is serving by appointment, faces Democrat Scott Lerner

A former assistant U.S. Attorney, Bohm has already has distinguished himself as a judge. Indeed, if he is not elected, it would be a serious loss for the local judiciary.

Area lawyers who rated Bohm’s performance in office gave him near-perfect scores in a variety of categories, including legal knowledge and, most importantly, temperament.

Simply put, he has been and will continue to be an outstanding trial judge and richly deserves voters’ support.

Regarding Lerner, the less said about his candidacy, the better.

His bar-poll scores were low. That’s why he was found “unqualified,” as compared to Bohm’s “highly qualified” rating.

Bohm is endorsed.

In the race for resident judge, Democrat Ramona Sullivan faces Republican Cherie Kesler

Both candidates are relatively low-profile local lawyers, although Sullivan made an unsuccessful bid for circuit judge in 2018.

Both candidates have solid experience as lawyers. Sullivan works in the local public defender’s office, while Kesler is a private practitioner.

The principal difference between the two is that Sullivan received a qualified rating in the bar poll, while Kesler received an unqualified rating.

For that reason, Sullivan is endorsed.

Tax referedums

Champaign County Forest Preserve District:

  • This government body, which operates six preserves — including Lake of the Woods and Homer Lake — is asking voters to approve a property-tax increase that would translate to a little more than $5 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home.

In property-tax lingo, that means the forest preserve district is asking voters to increase its levy by 1.6 cents per $100,000 of assessed value.

If approved, the rate would move up slightly to above 10 cents.

It really is a modest sum. As such, the request will test voters’ increasing hostility to property-tax increases, an aversion shared by The News-Gazette.

In this case, we encourage voters to approve the increase. If they do, it would be the first voter-approved rate hike for the district in 72 years and generate an additional revenue of nearly $700,000 per year.

Forest preserve facilities draw heavy use that generates maintenance expenses that cannot be indefinitely delayed.

The choice here is clear: Pay slightly more in property taxes or watch the preserve cuts programs and raise user fees to address the revenue shortfall.

Vote yes for the forest preserve district.

Cunningham Township:

  • The News-Gazette is no fan of the thousands of township governments in Illinois, which cumulatively cost a fortune and are largely invisible to most taxpayers. They need to be consolidated and/or eliminated statewide to reduce the size and cost of government.

Cunningham Township, whose boundaries are the same as the city of Urbana, is seeking a substantial property-tax increase to fund its social-service programs for lower-income residents.

The requested increase — nearly

10 cents per $100 of assessed valuation — would boost taxes by $36 a year for the owners of a home valued at $100,000, and $118 for the owner of a $300,000 home.

If approved, the increase would generate an additional $570,000-plus for the supervisor’s office.

Urbana residents traditionally have embraced property-tax increases with surprising enthusiasm, and they may again. But this is a good opportunity to say no by those who are groaning under the weight of ever-increasing property-tax bills.

Vote no for Cunningham Township’s tax increase.

via The News-Gazette

October 4, 2020 at 10:25AM