Voters in Mercer and Henry counties will find themselves confronted Nov. 6 with new choices, but perhaps familiar faces, vying to represent them in the Illinois House.
Running to represent the redrawn 74th House District, which includes all of Mercer and Henry County, minus Colona, are State Rep. Don Moffitt, R-Gilson, and Atkinson's Democrat Mayor August "Gus" Junior. Both have much to recommend them, but we believe that Rep. Moffitt is best positioned to serve the needs of this new district.
We were impressed with the energy and passion Mr. Junior brings to the race. He is proud of his record in Atkinson. In his first budget in 2009, he said he cut expenses 10 percents, and increased revenue 16 percent by cutting waste and increasing efficiency. He said he'd bring those skills to Springfield. Certainly, the Statehouse could use budget cutters, but translating what works in a town of less than 1,000 people to a state that serves millions and is billions in the hole is a very different challenge.
Mr. Junior suggests that his opponent, Rep. Moffitt, has had 20 years to fix what's broken in state government and it's time to give others a chance. But there is something to be said about the wisdom of experience and the clout that comes along with 20 years in the Legislature, particularly when it is wielded by someone like Mr. Moffitt. "It's not the years you put in, it's what you put in the years," he told us. He's right. His accomplishments include getting safety arms on school buses and the ground-breaking Illinois Genetic Privacy Act. He is widely respected in the Statehouse and boasts friends on both sides of the aisle. That's evident in his position on the powerful, bipartisan Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, which controls the rules generated to implement legislation. The panel is often the last chance to get legislation right, he said.
The farmer and one-time classroom ag teacher has been a good friend to the Quad-Cities area in Springfield and said he would continue to be advocate for things like expanding Western Illinois University Quad-Cities. He is a cheerleader for rail and has captured capital development dollars for significant improvements at Galesburg, home to the Burlington, Northern and Santa Fe Railroad. He backs the Quad-Cities to Chicago Amtrak route and would love to link other Amtrak stops in Western Illinois. He'd like the Quad-Cities to join his Amtrak Corridor group, which includes Princeton, Kewanee, Galesburg, Macomb and Quincy, to promote Amtrak ridership and expansion, tourism, education, and economic development along the line.
Mayor Junior said that a chance to meet with President Obama during his visit to Atkinson last year prompted his decision to get into the race. We're glad he was inspired and hope he remains involved. Politics need more such young leaders. But our communities also benefit from experience and clout. Mr. Moffitt has both. He is recommended.
Today is Thursday, Dec. 12, the 346th day of 2013. There are 19 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: Two boys who haul coal from Coal Valley to Davenport were arrested yesterday for running their teams through the city street at a furious rate. 1888 -- 125 years ago: E.H. Barker dislocated his left wrist and suffered a compound fracture of the right wrist when he fell from the roof of his icehouse. 1913 -- 100 years ago: Lou Harris was elected county superintendent of schools to fill the unexpired term of the late S.J. Ferguson. 1938 -- 75 years ago: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that a state must give equality in educational privileges to white and Negro law students. 1963 -- 50 years ago: About 300 employees of the Augustana Book Concern, staff members of the Board of Publication of the Lutheran Church in America, as well as friends of the community and out-of-town guests honored Dr. Birger Swenson at the annual Christmas dinner of the Augustana Book Concern last night in Westerlin Hall on the Augustana College campus. 1988 -- 25 years ago: The Christmas shopping season began early this year and continues to bring out shoppers in record numbers, according to Quad-Cities retailers interviewed today.