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As local races begin to take shape thanks to the bumped up election schedule prompted by the state’s bid for an earlier national primary, Rep. Karen Yarbrough, D. 7th Dist., has backed away from early consideration to challenge a political rival in Cook County and will instead seek re-election to the State House.

Earlier this summer Yarbrough went public with the notion that she might challenge Cook County Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore for his seat. Recently, however, the state representative said she had to consider what is best for her, which means maintaining her presence in Springfield.

“It wasn’t about challenging him, it was about holding the office,” Yarbrough said of squaring off against Moore. “He’s just warming the seat, and not very well, I might add.”

As the representative for the 7th District, Yarbrough serves a portion of Forest Park’s residents, largely to the north of Roosevelt Road. Voters in nine other municipalities including Broadview, Maywood, River Forest, and a sliver of Oak Park are also represented in the district.

The upcoming primary election will be held Feb. 5, which is earlier in the year than normal. An earlier primary is expected to bolster U.S. Sen. Barack Obama’s bid for the White House. Cook County Democrats met earlier in the month to slate its candidates in the upcoming elections, a process that has also been moved up on the calendar from its traditional spot in mid November.

The candidate Yarbrough said she would support to run against Moore in the primary, Ald. Ed Smith (28th), failed to earn the party’s support. Moore received the nod and will have the party’s backing in a bid for re-election.

Yarbrough’s legislative district extends into the city as well, and covers a portion of Smith’s ward.

Yarbrough has held the state seat since 2001 and also serves as Democratic Committeeman for Proviso Township. She scoffed at the suggestion that she and Moore have developed an intense rivalry over the years, but continued to barb the county politician. Yarbrough criticized Moore’s influence in area politics, alleging he has sought to control several local school districts and other area offices.

“That octopus has more than eight arms,” Yarbrough said.

Moore did not respond to a request for comment.

As for her focus on state-level politics, Yarbrough said another term would allow her to bring more attention to predatory lending, enacting tougher child support laws and greater accountability in education. Administrators, students, teachers and everyone “across the board” must be taken to task if schools are to improve, Yarbrough said.

“We want to make sure school board members are accountable, that they understand their roles,” Yarbrough said. “They have a fiduciary responsibility.”

Mandatory training sessions, similar to those used in Chicago, could be used to help educate newly elected school board members on their role in public education. Such training could be particularly helpful in Proviso Township, Yarbrough said, where she has seen little discipline in recent years.