Monday, November 5, 2018

Bible and the Ballot-Illinois Midterm Endorsements

This is the first time I have done political endorsements. People are constantly asking me what I think about candidates, however, I typically stick to providing them with tools to research for themselves. Increasingly however, I feel compelled to do more. As a person of faith, who cares deeply about the issue of biblical justice and protections for the marginalized in our society, I understand the need to promote leaders who reflect these concerns. Furthermore, given the severe cost of political corruption, it is also important to elect candidates with a history of conducting themselves in an ethical fashion. My endorsements are, obviously, not the only way to view these candidates and referendum questions. Sincere and thoughtful people from all perspectives can arrive at different conclusions. I fully support the government fulfilling its God-ordained role of promoting order and justice (Romans 13:1-7). I also am committed to policies that protect the most vulnerable in our society over those who are in a more fortunate position. I believe this to be God’s heart. (Prov. 29:7) For this reason, each candidate has been considered through this lens. I honestly understand the limits of any political candidate or movement. Consequently, I don’t recommend the following candidates because of some false messiah-like hopes I have. I support them because they appear to be the best candidates running based on the aforementioned criteria. Hopefully, my analysis will help you in the difficult process of researching a host of candidates and issues. Happy voting!

Illinois Governor and Lieutenant Governor-After using his millions to essentially buy an election, Bruce Rauner has proven to be ineffective in the art of governing. Whether fully to blame or not, his budget crisis and inability to coalesce his own party make him weak. JB Pritzker has also bought his way to statewide prominence. However, he appears to have a greater heart for addressing inequality and a solid plan to deal with issues like education and healthcare. We should elect him and hold him accountable to his pledges. If he proves to be ineffective or unconcerned with the aforementioned issues, the next election is only four short years away.

Illinois Attorney General-Having two African American candidates vie for the top legal job in the state is a rare opportunity. Ericka Harold, a dynamic young lawyer, is too ideologically obsessed to win statewide. For this reason Kwame Raoul, the successor to Obama’s State Senate seat, is the best choice. Although Raoul is the recipient of large donations from the Democratic establishment, his record of ethical conduct, commitment to criminal justice reform, and ability to work across the aisle clearly make him the strongest candidate. 

Illinois Secretary of State-Jesse White is uncontested

Illinois Comptroller- The incumbent, Susan Mendoza, is strongly considering a run for mayor of the City of Chicago. In fact, a video announcement of her mayoral campaign leaked this week. Consequently, I support the Republican candidate, Darlene Senger, simply based on this revelation. Mendoza may turn out to be a great mayoral candidate, however, the people of Illinois deserve a candidate committed to doing this job first. While there is a libertarian candidate in the race as well, I cannot support the libertarian ideology. Its commitment to minimalist government through laissez-faire economic principles is socially irresponsible, historically ignorant, and lacks compassion for the marginalized among us.

Illinois Treasurer-Michael Frerichs is clearly the candidate most committed to the issues facing struggling workers and students. He is heavily supported by a host of labor, education, and environmental groups in the state. Furthermore, his proposal for increasing college savings programs at the state level will provide much needed support to working families faced with the rising costs of college education. Lastly, he’s been recognized nationally for his work in government ethics and accountability. For these reasons, I will support him.

Representatives in Congress (2-year terms, one in each district)-This position is geographically based, therefore you should research on your own.

State Senators (4-year terms for one in each of the following Districts that are partly or entirely in Chicago: 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 39)- This position is geographically based, therefore you should research on your own.

Representatives in the General Assembly (2-year terms, one in each district)- This position is geographically based, therefore you should research on your own.

Commissioners of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (3 to be elected to 6-year terms; 2 to be elected separately to 2-year terms)-Barring some major crisis of water pollution, resource mismanagement, or ethical scandal, it is difficult to determine which candidates will be most effective in keeping our water supply safe and clean. The current Democrats in office have managed to keep the ship steady while adding new initiatives designed to protect the environment. However, supporting one of the many Green party candidates running for these seats would not be a poor choice given their party’s undying commitment to the environment. Take your pick on this one.

President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners-Although she has announced her intentions to run for mayor as well, current President Toni Preckwinkle is running unopposed. Her re-election is a simple formality.

County Clerk of Cook County- Current Clerk Karen Yarbrough is running unopposed.

Sheriff of Cook County- Current Sheriff Tom Dart is running unopposed.

Treasurer of Cook County- Current Treasurer Maria Pappas is running unopposed.

Assessor of Cook County-Fritz Kaegi has made countering the corruption and racial bias that plagued the office of Assessor Joe Berrios his number one priority. Kaegi has focused his efforts on outreach to the mostly poor minority communities impacted by erroneous low assessments of their home values. Additionally, he has personally and professionally spent time in the faith community working towards a biblical view of justice for the poor. He should make a great Assessor.

Cook County Commissioners (4-year terms, one in each district)

Commissioner of the Board of Review (Property Tax Appeals) of Cook County (Districts 2 & 3)

Circuit and Sub-Circuit Judges (to fill vacancies as needed)-The judges are often the most difficult section of any ballot. Using the  website will make your research extremely simple. Each judge is endorsed by associations of lawyers. Endorsements from groups like the Black Women Lawyers Association, the Chicago Council of Lawyers, Women’s Bar Association, the Cook County Bar Association, and the Hispanic Lawyers Association give pretty clear indications of their relationship to poor and minority groups in our area. A cursory look at these endorsements, using the previously mentioned website, should help make the decisions easier.

The City Council assigned three citywide advisory referendum questions to appear on the ballots:

- Should the City of Chicago ban the use of plastic straws within the corporate city limits? Many recent studies have alerted the public to the environmental hazards associated with disposing of these items. I’d hate to see them go, but I’d had to see the planet impacted as well. Consequently, we should support the ban.
- Should the City of Chicago seek that the State of Illinois create a homeowners' property tax exemption for families in municipalities of over 500,000 that have lived in their home for over 10 years and whose income is under $100,000? Yes-property taxes, which fund education in Illinois, are heavily burdensome to middle class families. Restructuring our tax code to provide less exemptions at the top and changing our state education funding system is a sure-fire way to deal with inequality in the state. I support the measure.

- In the event marijuana is legalized, should the City of Chicago appropriate revenue from the sale of marijuana to increase funding for Chicago Public Schools and for mental health services?
Of course! While I am not a huge proponent of marijuana legalization as a revenue source (Although I support decriminalization, there are other revenue options devoid of marijuana’s social costs/externalities) any potential cash income should be used for students and mental health services. 

The Cook County Board assigned three countywide advisory referendum questions to appear on the ballots:

- Shall the minimum wage in your municipality match the $13 per hour Cook County minimum wage law for adults over the age of 18 by July 1, 2020, and be indexed to the consumer price index after that?
Minimum wage laws have historically protected low-income workers from exploitation. They should be supported more often than not. While businesses often complain about their increased costs, the generous benefits in the US tax code still give them solid ground on which to function. Even at $13, many workers face heavy economic insecurity and should be supported in their quest for social mobility.

- Shall your municipality match the Cook County earned sick time law which allows for workers to earn up to 40 hours (5 days) of sick time a year to take care of their own health or a family member’s health?
Yes-The United States is woefully behind most industrialized nations with respect to worker benefits.

- Should the State of Illinois strengthen penalties for the illegal trafficking of firearms and require all gun dealers to be certified by the State?
Yes-gun violence claims the lives of 12,000 Americans each year. Even responsible gun owners should be in favor of stiffer penalties for the illegal trafficking of firearms.

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