Re-elect Karen Yarbrough, defeat Chris Welch
We want State Rep. Karen Yarbrough to be a stronger voice for change in Springfield. We want her to be more visible in this district. That said, we also admire much that she has accomplished in five years in Springfield and strongly urge her re-election.

We are particularly eager to see Yarbrough win because that will assure the defeat of Emanuel “Chris” Welch in the 7th district. Chris Welch is a scary, political hack. That he talks smoothly and dresses well”qualities learned from his mentor in political hackness, Cook County Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore”only adds to the impetus to stop him now.

Chris Welch is using a base of control that spins through school districts in the near west suburbs as his political foundation. It is where he practices cronyism and long-since discredited patronage politics. And, cynically, thousands of poor and poorly educated elementary and high school kids are the dupes in this political machination.

Chris Welch may have, inexplicably, fooled the Tribune which graced him with its endorsement. But he doesn’t fool us. And he shouldn’t fool voters.

Yarbrough is a traditional, liberal Democrat. That’s what she is. We’d like to seen more maverick, reformer tendencies. But we’ll settle for diligent, honest and decent.

Yarbrough was the chief sponsor in the House on the clean indoor air bill that has allowed all communities the opportunity to enact their own smoking bans. She is fighting against housing discrimination with regards to a buyer’s or renter’s source of income, which may include child support or a federal voucher. That bill has languished in the House Rules Committee after debate last year.

Chris Welch is not credible. He is not straightforward or trustworthy, either. He says as a state lawmaker he would outlaw his own practice of taking huge campaign donations from contractors working on projects he oversaw as an elected school official. He should already have done that as president of the Proviso Board of Education where the contractor/campaign contributor in charge of the new magnet school finished nearly $10 million over budget.

He has helped deplete Proviso’s surprisingly large budget by steering contracts and jobs to political allies, connected attorneys, overpaid public relations firms and even family members with highly questionable backgrounds. As a result, the school district’s already dismal test scores have tanked, and are now the worst in the county. Those who speak up have, on several occasions, been hit with multi-million dollar libel lawsuits (all of which Welch eventually dropped).

Welch thinks he can spin everything. It worked on the Tribune. Hopefully it won’t work on the majority of voters affected by Welch’s mismanagement and slippery shenanigans.

We support Karen Yarbrough for 7th district state representative.

Return Davis to Washington, D.C.
U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (7th) has been in Congress for 10 years. He hasn’t lost the fire in his belly, he hasn’t lost the righteous indignation, he hasn’t lost the low boom in his voice that he uses so effectively in making his points clear.

And that for us is plenty of reason to endorse him for reelection in the Democratic primary. Danny Davis is an advocate for people who need advocates. His Arkansas roots, his West Side roots, his independent political roots have not been co-opted by the high praise and endless perks of a Congressman’s life in D.C.

That said, we are disappointed by Davis’ recent endorsement, along with a bevy of black politicians, of John Stroger’s re-election as county board president. That was a political act we would have expected Davis to rise above.

Despite spending all of his 10 years in the House of Representatives in the minority, he has successfully worked with the Republican majority to get significant legislation passed.

Davis has worked to pass legislation to fund health services to eradicate Sickle Cell Disease. He also helped pass legislation to create partnerships between large corporations and small businesses. His admitted crown jewel would be the Second Chances Ex-Offenders Act, which was recently passed out of committee and is awaiting introduction to the floor of the House.

Davis’ ‘down home, good-ole-boy’ approach, which is often criticized, has served him well to build relationships.

Davis has reached a level of respectability”both locally and nationally”rivaled by only a few in his position. Could he have accomplished more? Perhaps. But he has been a voice worth having in Washington and in our community.

His Democratic opponents have called for change. But there must be good reason to remove someone from the level of seniority that Davis has attained. At this time, there is none.

Unlike previous Davis rivals, Jim Ascott has something to offer voters. This may not be his election, but we’d like to see Democrats find a race for him in the future.

Re-elect Kimberly Lightford
Kimberly Lightford has served as 4th District senator since 1998, and we believe she has earned another term.

Lightford has, among other accomplishments, sponsored legislation to expand HIV/AIDS testing in prisons, fought for stricter regulations of the payday loan industry, and supported increases in the minimum wage.

As chair of the senate’s education committee she has pushed for a school funding system that relies more on income taxes than property taxes. She does not gloss over the state’s dismal ranking of 48th in the country in school funding, and is dedicated to finding solutions.

Lightford’s opponent, James T. Smith, is a rare political outsider looking to make a difference for all the right reasons. He certainly could be a viable candidate in years to come, but at this time it would do him good to work to balance his idealism with a thorough understanding of the political process. Identifying problems is one thing, but proposing realistic solutions is another, and Smith has yet to do so.

Lightford’s alliance with, or at least acceptance of, local political hacks such as Chris Welch and Eugene Moore is cause for some concern. Still, Lightford says she’s beholden to no one but the district’s voters. Her record supersedes her political networking, and provides ample reason to support her re-election campaign.