Evanston resident Daniel Biss has announced that he will seek to represent the 17th Illinois district in Springfield, making a bid for the seat now held by Elizabeth Coulson. Ms. Coulson has said she will not seek re-election to Springfield, but, like her 18th District colleague Julie Hamos, will campaign for the 10th Congressional seat being vacated by Mark Kirk. Part of the 17th district is located in northwest Evanston, but the bulk of it is west and north of here.

Mr. Biss was unsuccessful in his bid to unseat Ms. Coulson in 2008. He served as campaign manager this spring for Evanston’s current mayor, Elizabeth Tisdahl.

Campaign-finance reform will be a primary focus for Mr. Biss, should he be elected. For several months this year Mr. Biss said he worked in Governor Patrick Quinn’s office, “analyzing bills on campaign finance and other reform bills” – which were ultimately “so weak that Gov. Quinn vetoed them.” In this capacity, Mr. Biss said he “learned about the environment of ethical and political reform.”

As a policy adviser for Gov. Quinn, Mr. Biss said he worked on “electronic democracy – using the Internet as an engagement tool for constructive dialogue on civic life in this state.”


The budget, which still looms large over the entire state, would be another primary focus for Mr. Biss. “The budget is a catastrophe. We’re getting through 2010 with a combination of borrowing and pretending,” he said in a recent interview with the RoundTable. Yet, he added, “Debate about the budget has become simplistic and politicized. … People have the idea that Illinois government is wasteful [and that] individual areas that are funded in the budget” are expendable. As Mr. Biss sees it, though, “The state is a large and siloed enterprise. There is not a lot of collaboration … [and this] leads to duplication” of services, programs and bureaucracies, i.e., waste.

Young Blood in Springfield

While both Ms. Hamos and Ms. Coulson are seeking to leave Springfield for Washington D.C., Mr. Biss and several others of the under-40 generation are looking to head there.

In Evanston, Patrick Keenan-Devlin and Eamon Kelly are seeking to represent the 18th District, as is seasoned activist and attorney Jeff Smith.

“The Obama phenomenon has had a great impact on my generation,” Mr. Biss said. “I think people who knocked on doors for Barack are going to stay in politics.”