Since Julie Hamos announced her decision to leave Springfield for Washington D.C. by seeking the seat in the10th Congressional District being vacated by Mark Kirk, five Evanston residents are seeking the Democratic nomination for state representative of the 18th District.

The five Democrat hopefuls – Robyn Gabel, Patrick Keenan-Devlin, Eamon Kelly, Edmund Moran Jr. and Jeff Smith – are facing off in the Feb. 2 primary election, to see who will be the party’s candidate in the November general election.

The field of five presents a range of age and experience. Shawn Jones interviewed each candidate about the state budget, education, health care, public transit, corruption of public officials, pension funding and the environment.

Each candidate was also asked to identify a signature issue. Ms. Gabel said health care was her signature issue. Three candidates – Mssrs. Keenan-Devlin, Kelly and Moran – said addressing the state’s budget was their primary issue. Mr. Smith cited change, rooted in reality, as his first issue.

On what may be a divisive issue, four of the candidates said they thought Illinois would have to increase income taxes to address its budgetary problems. One said he views increasing the income tax as a last resort.

Articles summarizing each candidate’s views, based on the interviews are found in the election section. 

On Jan. 10 the League of Women Voters and the District 65/District 202 PTA Council will hold a forum at Evanston Township High School featuring these candidates as well as 13th Cook County District Commissioner Larry Suffredin and Democratic challenger John Michael Keefe. The candidates for Cook County Commissioner are scheduled to begin at 2 p.m., and the 18th District candidates at 3:30 p.m.

At present there is no Republican candidate for state representative in the 18th District, but that party may appoint a candidate after the primary election.