I am writing to urge my friends and neighbors to vote for Jeff Smith in the Democratic primary for 18th District State Representative on Feb. 2.  This is not an easy choice. 

Many of the candidates have deep roots in our community, most take progressive positions on the issues, and all are sincerely dedicated to public service.   

The most important characteristic I look for in a public servant is courage.  I have seen Jeff demonstrate courage over a long period in public life and in the current campaign.  At a debate among the candidates I attended, when the candidates were asked how they would address our state’s profound fiscal crisis, only Jeff had the courage to acknowledge that digging us out of our fiscal hole will require “pain” that we will all have to share. 

Similarly, while all the candidates advocated greater support for mass transit, only Jeff had the courage to point out that the money to pay for this would have to come from someplace, and to specifically propose an increase in the gasoline tax to pay for it.   

Courage is a trait that is particularly essential in a member of the Illinois House of Representatives, for that is a place where truth must be spoken to power.  That body has long been run according to a way of doing business that stifles progressive legislators and progressive legislation.  That way of doing business must change, and I believe Jeff Smith has the courage to be a leader in seeking that change.

Jonathan Baum