* Credit to Rep. Cassidy for participating in this event, even though the sponsors (the local Indivisible chapter) are openly hostile to her state Senate appointment bid…
State Rep. Kelly Cassidy and two others interested in the appointment to outgoing state Sen. Heather Steans’ legislative seat laid out their resumes and fielded questions from constituents Tuesday evening at a virtual meeting hosted by a group that has raised concerns that the selection process shuts out voters. […]
As Democratic committeeperson for the 49th Ward, Cassidy is one of the nine members of the Cook County Democratic Party who will ultimately decide who gets the appointment Cassidy and Simmons are seeking and Koziatek is considering.
“This process isn’t perfect. I don’t know that there would be a perfect one or could be a perfect one,” Cassidy said. “But the committeepeople in the North Side have, for years, worked to go way beyond what the, I believe, intentionally vague state law on filling vacancies permits. This is not a smoke-filled room, and none of the other forums I’ve heard about so far will be either, but we can lead and set an example of doing better.” […]
On Sunday, Ald. Harry Osterman, who also represents the 48th Ward as its Democratic committeeperson and has the largest share of the weighted vote, said he plans to convene the nine committeepeople for an open forum at 1 p.m. on Feb. 6 at the Swedish American Museum, though the meeting will be conducted via videoconference.
“We’re trying to do this in an open, fair, transparent process,” Osterman told the Chicago Sun-Times Sunday. “I think that’s really important for us, I think our constituents expect that, and that’s what we’re committed to.”
* Chicago Magazine…
Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth, the group’s co-founder, said its campaign has been called “naive” and “unfortunate” by local politicians who gained their offices through this system. But, she argues, the last Far North Side state senator who was fairly chosen by the voters was Arthur Berman.
That was in 1976.
Sen. Berman served until 2000. He quit and Rep. Carol Ronen was appointed to his seat. But she quit in time to allow for a contested primary in 2009, which was overwhelmingly won by Steans. Also, Steans wasn’t even opposed last year in the primary.
This process of stepping away from your elected position so a small political committee can replace you seems pretty consistent with machine-style politics. So it’s ironic that Steans and Cassidy are enmeshed in it. They were outspoken critics of former House Speaker Michael Madigan, who was a master at such maneuvering.
Some politicos have a greater concern. They worry minorities are being shut out of elected positions. Steans and Cassidy’s seats encompass the Rogers Park community, which is majority minority. Cassidy is white.
1) Most Chicago wards are bigger than most Downstate towns.
2) Cassidy was initially appointed to her House seat, so I’m not sure I see the irony here.
3) Chicago and Cook County committeepersons are elected by primary participants. Outside Cook, county party chairs make the appointment decisions and they’re not directly elected.
4) During the last census, the Senate district was about 17 percent African-American, 17 percent Hispanic, 17 percent Asian-American and 53 percent white. It’s not all about Rogers Park, no matter how much that Indivisible chapter may want to make it so.
* Look, if people want to change the law to allow for special elections, then fine. Give it a go. Get a bill introduced for starters and then actually work it.
But stop stretching the truth and be careful what you wish for because special elections cost real money and are generally low-turnout affairs that can be more easily controlled by the people who pay attention to these things and know how to run campaigns. You know, the sort of people who don’t spend their entire days on Twitter.
In other words, the heavens aren’t automatically going to open and unicorns won’t fall out of the sky if we switch to special elections for vacancies.
*** UPDATE *** As if on cue…
On Tuesday, January 26th, the 48th Legislative District Committee met to select the finalists for interviews to fill the vacancy in nomination after State Senator Andy Manar resigned his seat in the Illinois Senate. Interviews will be conducted on Saturday, January 30th. On Saturday, February 6th, the 48th Legislative District Committee will meet again to discuss & vote on the appointment. Time and location for the vote will be advised.
Applicants were asked to submit a resume or biography, detailed statement describing their involvement within the Democratic Party, detailed statement regarding their electability & vision for the 48th State Senate District, and a headshot. Applications had to be submitted by Monday, January 25th at 5pm. Applicants must be at least 21 years of age, a resident of the 48th State Senate District for at least two years & be a Democrat in good standing.
Finalists for the 48th State Senate Appointment include:
Lisa Badger, Springfield Park Board Member
Shad Edwards, retired Illinois State Police
Frank McNeil, former Springfield Alderman
Doris Turner, Springfield Ward 3 Alderwoman
Roberta Vojas, Macoupin County Board Member
Ruth Waller, Macon County State’s Attorney’s office
Chase Wilhelm, previous candidate for State Representative (IL 95th)
Julie Moore Wolfe, Mayor of Decatur
The 48th State Senate District includes a large section of central Illinois, stretching from the east side of Springfield to Decatur then heading south to include Christian and Montgomery Counties and portions of Macoupin and northern Madison Counties. A map of the 48th State Senate District can be found at http://senatorandymanar.com/48th-district/map.