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City Beat: Political Races In Decatur Area Are Dominated By Female Candidates


Editor Paul Osborne

     The “Good Old Boys” club is dead — and has been for a long time when it comes to politics and political campaigns in Decatur and Central Illinois.

     Recently, I was looking over one of the layouts for a Decatur Tribune edition, and on one of the pages about candidates in various races, I couldn’t help but notice that every photo of a candidate on the page was of a woman. I then read the story headlines and looked at the photos carried on our website and, there it was again — every candidate on the front page of that edition, was a woman.

     It was a long time in coming, but women are dominating the political news in Central Illinois and in many part of the nation. I’m in my 53rd year as editor and publisher of this newspaper and, in the over half century that I’ve written about area races for public office I’ve been privileged to be a witness to the evolution of traditional all-male candidates in political races and public officeholders — to increasing dominance by female candidates.

     • TWO YEARS AGO, I published a “Scrapbook” article by Mark W. Sorensen, the Official Macon County Historian, about Women’s Suffrage in Decatur. Considering all of women in Decatur and Macon County who are either serving in public office or running for public office, I think the following paragraphs from Mark’s article are appropriate.

     “Starting in 1860, the Macon County Board was originally comprised of township supervisors. It took 64 years for Flora F. Baldwin and Hazel Williford to be elected assistant Decatur Township Supervisors in 1924 and thus become the first women on the County Board under the old format. The Sanitary District of Decatur was formed in 1917 and 61 years later League of Women Voters’ officer Kathy L. Sorensen was appointed the first woman to its ‘five-man’ board in 1978 [and immediately appointed Board Clerk].

     “After the passage of Illinois’ Municipal Suffrage Bill in 1913 it took 62 years before Carol A. Brandt [1932-2020] became the first woman elected to the Decatur City Council in April 1975. Illinois women could vote for and be elected to the Illinois General Assembly in 1920. It took 67 years for Decatur to elect Penny Severns [1952-1998] its first female state legislator in 1987. Finally, since 1913 any qualified adult could run for Mayor of Decatur. Julie Moore Wolfe [after serving two years as Decatur’s first appointed female mayor] was the first woman elected mayor in 2017 after 104 years of possibilities.”

     • MY VIEWPOINT COLUMN in this week’s edition of the Decatur Tribune  is about Carol Brandt and the time she came to my office at the newspaper nearly a half century ago to tell me that she was going to run for the city council.  She won and became the first woman to sit on the Decatur City Council and helped open the door for those who would follow her.

     • LAST WEEK, Julie Moore Wolfe announced her candidacy for election to a third term as mayor in next April’s election. If she wins and serves another full term she will become the longest serving mayor in Decatur’s history. Councilwoman Lisa Gregory has also announced that she is seeking a third term on council in 2023.

     • CONGRESSIONAL races that directly impact Decatur and Macon County this time around, have Democrat Nikki Budzinski and Republican Regan Deering dueling it out to see who will represent the 13th District when the votes are county on Nov. 8th. In the 15th Congressional, District race where I live Republican Mary Miller defeated longtime Congressman Rodney Davis to advance to the General Election against Democrat Paul Lange. Miller is expected to win easily in November. So, the 13th and 15th Congressional Districts will be represented by women.

     • OUR STATE Senator in the 48th District is Doris Turner (D-Springfield) and she is running against Sandy Hamilton (R-Springfield). Obviously, a woman will continue to serve in that position regardless of who wins. Also, longtime State Rep. Sue Scherer (D-Decatur) is running for re-election in the 96th District against Dr. Lisa Smith (R-Blue Mound). As in the 48th District, State Senate race, the winner will be a woman.

     Politics and political campaigns for office are no longer the exclusive domain of men. Women candidates are beating men in primaries. Congressional candidate Mary Miller beat longtime Republican Congressman Rodney Davis in the June primary to move on to the general election and Dr. Lisa Smith beat Prescott Paulin in the primary.

     • THE ROUTE 51 South construction sign has moved the beginning of work from the week of Sept. 12, to the 19th and now to the week of Oct 3. Maybe they should list the year when road work will begin in addition to month and day. Just a suggestion. (smile)

     • I JOIN BRIAN BYERS on WSOY’s Byers & Co. every Thursday morning at 7:00.

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