Speaking for Themselves …

At the RoundTable’s invitation, each of the five candidates in the 18th Legislative District Democratic primary submitted a brief personal statement. They are printed below.

 Robyn Gabel

I have been a lifelong advocate for better health care for everybody. For the last twenty years, I have been the Executive Director of the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition.  I was a key architect of the Kid Care program in 1997, which later became the All Kids program.  This program guarantees health care access for every single child in Illinois and it has made Illinois a national leader in health care reform.

As State Representative, I will have three main goals.  First, as a lifelong advocate for a health care system that works for everyone, I am excited about the opportunity to work with the federal government in implementing the national health care reform that will soon pass the U.S. Congress.  It will take years of careful implementation at the state level to make quality, affordable health care coverage a reality. It would fulfill my lifelong dream to be a part of that effort.

My second goal is to help devise a plan to restore Illinois to fiscal stability while robustly building for the future.  There is an important role for Illinois in ensuring that America retains its prominence in global affairs.  But fulfilling our obligations requires rebuilding our public education system, investing in green technologies, and improving our public transportation system.  We cannot do these things if we are unable to pay our current bills.  Illinois needs to develop a stream of revenue that is consistent and sufficient while restoring fairness to the tax system.  This requires some form of increase in the income tax, coupled with tax credits for low-income families and a decrease in property tax rates.  It may also require that we investigate whether expanding the sales tax to certain luxury services.

My third goal is to develop a strong progressive caucus in the Illinois House of Representatives.  My success as an advocate lay in bringing people together to resolve problems.  As a state representative, I would apply this skill to breaking down the barriers that separate the various factions within the Democratic Party and build a strong, cohesive force for change.

 Patrick Keenan-Devlin

These values define Evanston – and they define my campaign.  I’m calling for a New Way for Illinois which will rid Springfield of the crooks, the cronies, and the corporate lobbyists who’ve emptied the state coffers and shattered the public trust. We must put government where it belongs – in the hands of the people. It’s a bold initiative, but this is the place to begin paving that new way.  Members of this community live by the proposition that with vision and cooperative effort, big change is possible.

 And to turn things around in our state, we must think big.  In my position with Citizen Action/Illinois, fighting for progressive legislation, I learned how things get done in Springfield – and how they don’t for average citizens.  Corruption and irresponsibility lead directly to failing schools, crumbling infrastructure and a bankrupt budget.  That’s why I offer a comprehensive plan to restore integrity to Illinois which would:

  • Get the cash out of campaigns: impose meaningful contribution limits, adopt public financing for state campaigns, and end “pay to play” for good;
  • Fix our budget mess: Address our crippling structural deficit and revitalize the economy;
  • Protect our schools and our vulnerable citizens: Restructure our unfair tax system and fully fund education and vital social programs.

We must attack these systemic problems so that we can educate every child, advance women’s rights, protect our environment and reboot our economy.  To learn more, visit www.PatrickForIllinois.com.

I know we’re in for a big fight if we want big change.  But I also know from the work I’ve done here with organizations like the League of Women Voters and the Democratic Party of Evanston what great things people working together and listening to each other can accomplish. With your help, we can forge a New Way for Illinois.  I’d be honored by your support and your vote in this primary election.

 Eamon Kelly

I am an education reformer, progressive advocate, attorney and lifelong resident of Evanston. I decided to run for State Representative when Springfield politicians – engaged in doomsday budgeting – demonstrated to us they were incapable of protecting programs and community institutions that are critical to our state. The legislature was considering massive cuts to programs and services across the board. One program on the chopping block was the Preschool for All, which provides preschool to 100,000 families in Illinois. At the same time, politicians were protecting politically motivated programs like Blagojevich’s Free Rides and the General Assembly Scholarship, where legislators can give $30,000 scholarships with little oversight.

I have first-hand experience working in state government. As Chief of Staff of the State Board of Education I worked to reform our education system by improving graduation requirements, increasing preschool access for low-income families, and blocking the Bush Administration from shifting public tutoring dollars to unregulated private companies.

I understand the importance of our community’s strong public services because I owe my success to our community. My mother teaches at Washington School, and I attended Evanston’s great public schools: Dewey, Nichols and Evanston Township High School.   I benefited from programs provided by Y.O.U., Fleetwood-Jourdain and the YMCA, among others.  I continued my education at the University of Illinois, where I graduated summa cum laude from the College of Law.  Because of my great experience growing up here, my wife Lakshmi, an immigration attorney, and I moved back to Evanston to start our family; our first child is due this spring. 

The chronic failure to make the tough choices needed to support these community programs and failure to cut back politically motivated expenses has brought our state to the brink of bankruptcy.  I am prepared to make the tough choices to protect essential services and our community institutions.

You can learn about our campaign at www.eamon2010.com. You can read our plan to fix Illinois’ budget, reform education and prevent corruption in state government. You can also read about my support for a woman’s right to choose
and marriage equality. Please join our campaign and help bring real reform
to Illinois now.

Edmund B. Moran Jr.

Illinois is in crisis.  The upcoming Democratic primary on Feb. 2 must be the beginning of a revolution in Illinois state government.  I am asking for your vote because I believe that I am the only candidate out of a field of five who sees clearly the perilous straits that our state is in and has the independence and experience necessary to change its course.

I am the only candidate who has stated consistently that I will not raise your taxes.  All the other candidates have not only promised that they will raise your taxes but that they will do so by multipliers of two to three times the current tax rates. This will hurt all of us, but it will be a terrible blow to underprivileged people and to business development and jobs.

This has to stop.

I was on the Evanston City Council for 18 years.  I voted for 18 City budgets that were balanced without the use of sleight of hand but with hard work and sacrifice, where necessary, and a keen eye on reality.  We passed several budgets without a tax increase and, when an increase was necessary, I worked hard to keep it as low as possible.

If you allow me to represent you in Springfield, I will return your confidence and get the great State of Illinois back on track.

Jeff Smith

This election, we have a chance to transform the political landscape of Illinois. And we must.

On Jan. 9, I was honored to address the Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti at its Independence Day dinner. Who knew that 72 hours later, many of the assembled would be back at the Levy Center, hearing Lionel Jean-Baptiste brief us on the horrific devastation wrought on the island nation? How unpredictable our tenure here can be. And how critical that first responders answer the call.

This past year, our elation at a new president gave way to the shame of having to impeach a governor. The politics-as-usual of 2009 denied us the change for which so many had worked. Meanwhile, crises mounted.

The 18th District must elect a representative who knows Illinois and this community intimately. We also need the practical knowledge, seasoning and life experience to navigate the tough choices ahead.

In a wide-ranging legal career, I’ve touched most subjects of legislation. As a parent I’ve lived our schools’ challenges. I’ve worked in the private sector to pay taxes for those schools. I’ve seen how laws play out in the real world, outside the “bubble.”

Whether working with a block group to bring community policing to Rogers Park, fighting to protect the shoreline in court, helping coach kids’ skills and self-esteem to a higher level, or doing late-night research for presenting our community vision, I’ve always been engaged. An engaged life teaches more than any class. Whenever I’ve driven home a latchkey kid, counseled a jobless client, or sat through meetings hearing citizens’ frustrations, I’ve learned. The lives that have touched mine, and knowing how many share similar stories, drive this campaign.

The question of 2010 must be, “Who will guide true transformation?” This district must elect a representative who we know can withstand powerful interests, ask the hard questions, and dig in to craft a solution. I’ve responded before. I will do so again. The job requires no less. I ask for your vote to forge a better politics together. To put our government back on track. To believe again in Illinois.