Nearly all candidates in contested races in Morgan County came out to attend one of the last forums before the March 20th primary. They answered questions in a packed Jacksonville City Council chamber. Over 50 people were in attendance.
Of the nine candidates invited, only Rep. Darin LaHood was unable to attend. He is currently serving in Washington. The candidates who could make it included:
- Donald Rients, a Republican running in the 18th Congressional District
- Darrel Miller, a Democrat running in the 18th
- Brian Deters, a Democrat running in the 18th
- Junius Rodriguez, a Democrat running in the 18th
- Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer, a Republican running in the 100th Illinois House District
- Jonas Petty, a Republican running in the 100th Illinois House District
- Chris “CJ” Johnson, a Republican running for Morgan County Sheriff
- Mike Carmody, a Republican running for Morgan County Sheriff
There were few surprises from any of the candidates on any of the questions. However there were some. Both Miller and Deters expressed pro-life sentiments for their personal views; but were pro-choice from a policy standpoint. On the same question about the sanctity of life, Petty said we need to get the root of the abortion issue, and supported better economic opportunities and sex education to reduce abortions.
Both Sheriff candidates also expressed concerns about body cameras. While they saw the utility, they spoke about how unclear the law is at this point. This includes protecting suspects’ and other individuals’ fourth and fifth amendment rights. Additionally, storing the footage and providing Freedom of Information Act access for the footage is far more expensive than the cameras themselves. But throughout the evening, both said their job was to enforce and follow the law, not to make policy.
All of the candidates opposed a mandate on arming teachers. Rients and Petty were open to the option, and Miller said it was a local issue, not a federal one. Johnson warned about the change of mindset that comes with carrying a firearm and distractions that would cause teachers. Carmody opposed a mandate, but said he would enforce it if it was a law.
Langfelder remains confident in his Township merger question
Springfield is on its way to eliminating a unit of government. Capital Township, which is coterminous with the City of Springfield, is moving towards consolidation. Currently, Sangamon County is trying to get the township to merge with the county. But Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder is pushing the effort for the township to be merged into the city.
The County’s effort had strong momentum going for it before the election. Both the township board and the county have approved the merger. To further solidify their mandate, they put a non-binding question on the November 6th ballot. That question asked if the county and township should pursue a full merger. The effort passed with 75 percent support, or 31,800 votes.
Despite the progress the County’s effort is making, Langfelder still thinks the city should take over the township. He remains confident that voters will support his ballot question. But that support will have to come in two parts. Because the Springfield City Council declined to endorse his question, Langfelder will need signatures to get on the April ballot at all, in addition to getting votes on Election Day.
Republicans Davis and LaHood hold onto congressional seats
Both Congressmen who serve the Springfield area retained their seats last night. Darin LaHood (R-18) and Rodney Davis (R-13) will be going back to Washington DC. LaHood had a decisive victory with 67.5 percent of the vote against Democrat Junius Rodriguez who took 32.5 percent. Davis had a much closer race. He won out over Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan by a margin of just 3,700 votes.
But Illinois Congressional races generally went towards the Democrats. The 6th District went to Sean Casten over Republican incumbent Peter Roskam. Lauren Underwood came out over Republican incumbent Randy Hultgren in the 14th. These races were part of the Democrats retaking of the US House of Representatives. Illinois now has 13 Democratic and 5 Republican Congressional Representatives.
Even in the races they won, Republicans have reasons to be concerned. LaHood received 57,000 fewer votes in his rematch against Rodriguez than he did in 2016. Rodriguez’s total dropped just 3,000 votes. Davis faced a similar situation. Where the Democrats actually gained 5,000 votes in the 13th, Davis’ total declined by 52,000.
While a win is a win, even these high points of last night’s election should be worrying to the Illinois Republican Party.
Sales tax and township consolidation propositions pass
In addition to the candidates running for office, there were several questions on the ballot for voters in Sangamon County. One question was if Capital Township should be consolidated with Sangamon County. The other was if there should be a one percent sales tax to help schools pay for facility improvements.
Both questions passed. The township question passed handily with 75 percent of the vote. The sales tax was approved much more narrowly, 53 to 47 percent.
Because it was a non-binding question, the township vote will do nothing by itself. It will, however, strengthen the case for the county and township to consolidate.
The sales tax referendum was a binding question, and will go into effect July of 2019. It is expected to raise about $10 million for District 186, and another $10 million for other districts in Sangamon County.