Elect replacements for legislative vacancies

To the Editor:

In November 2018 Illinois elected J.B. Pritzker governor with a sound defeat of ultra-conservative incumbent Bruce Rauner.  State Rep. Christian Mitchell (26th) has been promoted to the position of deputy governor, and his seat was just filled through the clout-heavy process of committeemen appointing his replacement.

Voters in the 26th district – and every other district – deserve to choose their representatives through a special election.

Current law makes the committeemen “king-makers,” and too often those appointees merely carry out the political agenda of the democratic machine and the corporate elite that provides its fuel. (i.e. former state representative and 4th ward Alderman Will Burns) This is unacceptable.

Within the last few years, there have been two cases where elected officials won, only to announce within months (and in some cases days) of their election that they will not serve their terms.  To simply appoint someone who has not been democratically vetted by Illinois voters is dismissive of Illinois taxpayers and the democratic process.

Naysayers will argue that a special election costs too much.  Well, what is the cost when appointed officials ignore the voices of their constituents to carry out corporate interest?  We have not forgotten Rep. Mitchell’s and Ald. Burns’ lack of support for community efforts to improve Dyett High School and parents having to wage a 34-day hunger strike to save Bronzeville’s last open-enrollment high school.

Too often, elected officials are more concerned about ascending to higher political office or corporate positions than actually being the voice of their constituent’s interests.  In this structure, the taxpayers always lose.

In the case of the 26th District, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle might have the weighted vote in appointing Kam Buckner as Mitchell’s replacement.  This is the same “progressive” Toni Preckwinkle who has recently been exposed for accepting ill-gotten gains in the form of allegedly extorted campaign contributions from businessmen connected with powerful machine Ald. Ed Burke.

The same Ed Burke was the enforcer of the Vrdolyak 29 and waged war against former Mayor Harold Washington and his policies; the same Burke who maneuvered tax breaks for Donald Trump, costing tax-payers at least $14 million dollars.

This corruption is like a mutated octopus, with too many tentacles for the public to see; therefore, the power to replace public officials needs to rest with Illinois voters in a special election, not in the hands of ward committeemen.

Jitu Brown

People United for Action