* From a constituent e-mail sent today by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago)…
With the start of a new term also comes a new election for leadership in both chambers. Speaker Madigan has been in that role for 30 years (with the exception of 2 years when democrats lost the majority) and is the second longest serving leader of any state legislative body in the history of the United States.
I have heard from several constituents urging me to vote against Speaker Madigan. I can fully appreciate the frustration expressed towards him, and I have been vocal in my belief that we need to be doing things differently than we have over the last two years. At the same time, laying all the blame for this standoff on Speaker Madigan isn’t accurate either. I have been critical of both Speaker Madigan and Governor Rauner when they deserve it and will continue to do so.
Ultimately, the election of Speaker of the House is a choice between candidates. As of right now, there are two candidates who have declared their intention to run for Speaker on Wednesday - Michael Madigan and Jim Durkin, the current House Minority Leader. My responsibility is to cast my vote for the person whose values most closely align with mine. Madigan, while flawed, supports the rights of workers, equality for women and the LGBT community, and he is pushing back against policies that hurt middle class families and those living in poverty.
I have a good working relationship with Leader Durkin, but to put him in charge of the House would effectively put Governor Rauner in the driver’s seat. I cannot in good conscience cast a vote that would ultimately harm the people I represent even more than they have been already.
Ending this stalemate is important. But ending it by allowing Governor Rauner to ram through policies aimed at ending collective bargaining, enriching private contractors, decimating child care and care for the elderly and disabled, among a long list of things our caucus has pushed back against in an effort to find a budget solution not held hostage by non-budgetary issues, is not the right answer.
Assuming Speaker Madigan is reelected this week, I intend instead to continue to forcefully push him towards more thoughtful solutions and alternative policies that will actually help the people we serve, along with a more open process to allow more ideas to come to the floor.