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, March 12, the 71st day of 2014. There are 294 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: Soldiers from the barracks on the Arsenal manage to elude the vigilance of the guard nearly every day and come to town armed. In the hands of excited and perhaps intoxicated men, these weapons are dangerous. 1889 -- 125 years ago: Manufacturing's merchants and professional men of Moline were petitioning the Western Union Telegraph company to establish a telegraph office in the business area of the city. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Three Rock Island students, the Misses Eleanor Cleaveland, Dorothy McCabe and Ruth West, escaped injury when fire destroyed College Hall at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. 1939 -- 75 years ago: The Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War gave a party for William H. Stremmel, the only survivor of John Buford Post 243, GAR. 1964 -- 50 years ago: The East Moline Grade School Board of Education last night granted salary increases totaling about $47,000 to teachers and staff members. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Five champion spellers from the Rock Island/Milan School district were selected after competition this week at Modern Woodmen of America. Winners are Sarah Cottay, Christopher Gilbrich, Jared Vogele, Kedric Roper and Kenny Stevenson.