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 Wednesday, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.
1864 — 150 years ago: Some persons are negotiating for 80 feet of ground on Illinois Street with a view of erecting four stores thereon. It would serve a better purpose if the money was invested in neat tenement houses. 1889 — 125 years ago: The Central station, car house and stables of the Moline-Rock Island Horse Railway line of the Holmes syndicate, together with 15 cars and 42 head of horses, were destroyed by fire. The loss was at $15,000. 1914 — 100 years ago: Vera Cruz, Mexico, after a day and night of resistance to American forces, gradually ceased opposition. The American forces took complete control of the city. 1939 — 75 years ago: Dr. R. Bruce Collins was reelected for a second term as president of the Lower Rock Island County Tuberculosis Association. 1964 — 50 years ago: Work is scheduled to begin this summer on construction of a new men's residence complex and an addition to the dining facilities at Westerlin Hall at Augustana College. 1989 — 25 years ago: Special Olympics competitors were triple winners at Rock Island High School Saturday. The participants vanquished the rain that fell during the competition, and some won their events; but most important, they triumphed over their own disabilities.