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Editor Paul Osborne

     Political campaigns are in the final stretch as there is less than a month before the Nov. 8th General Election Day and early voting continues. This week, we take a closer look at another race that impacts Decatur and Macon County. The state senate race in the 48th District has challenger Rep. Sandy Hamilton (R-Springfield) seeking to beat incumbent Senator Doris Turner (D-Springfield). Each candidate’s response to three basic questions about their candidacies, including why they are running, can be found on page 6 of this week’s Decatur Tribune print and online editions.

     Out of the 3 state senate races that include various parts of Macon County the race between Hamilton and Turner is the only contested race. Last week, we featured the state representative race between incumbent Sue Scherer and challenger Lisa Smith for the 96th District seat.

     Out of five state representative races that include parts of Macon County, the 96th is the only contested one. That means that, out of 8 senate and representative races, only 2, or 1/4th of the seats that represent us, give us a choice between two candidates. That’s not healthy for our city and county when three-fourths of the candidates involved don’t have an opponent and don’t have to answer for their record, or explain why we should vote for them.

     • THE RACE in the 13th Congressional District, which includes part of Macon County, between Democrat Nikki Budzinski and Republican Regan Deering is a race that seems to be attracting the most interest in the Decatur area. Budzinski announced last week that her campaign raised over $1,000,000 in the third quarter of 2022. To date, Budzinski has raised over 3 million dollars since announcing her campaign in August of 2021. Although they keeps pouring money into her campaign, Democrats have found Deering to be a stronger candidate than expected when the 13th District was redrawn to eliminate Congressman Rodney Davis and elect Budzinski.

     The other Congressional Race directly impacting Macon County between Republican Mary Miller and Democrat Paul Lange was essentially over when Miller beat Rodney Davis in the Republican Primary months ago. Lange, of Quincy, doesn’t seem to me to have a strong campaign, and not much campaign money to advertise.

     • THE SHERIFF — A television commercial for Nikki Budzinski began running on various television and social media platforms last week and it brought a response from Macon County Sheriff Jim Root. A press release coming from Root’s office stated: “This advertisement portrays Sheriff Antonio Brown (Retired) endorsing Candidate Budzinski for her political office race while wearing a shirt that says ‘Sheriff A.D. Brown’ and ‘Sheriff’ on the sleeves. The Macon County Sheriff’s Office does not provide endorsements for persons running for political office. Deputies and retired employees are entitled to endorse or support political candidates in any manner they chose as long as they are not portraying themselves as a member of the Sheriff’s Office. In the case of Retired Sheriff Brown he is not representing the views of the Macon County Sheriff’s Office but rather his personal opinion. Questions concerning an individual’s appearance in political advertisements should be directed to the committee producing the advertisement and not the Macon County Sheriff’s Office.”

     As Sheriff Root pointed out, Brown certainly has a right to endorse any candidate as a private citizen but he no longer represents the Macon County Sheriff’s office. According to Tribune readers who contacted me, the impression was left that Brown was still in office. No surprise that the present sheriff responded to the commercial.

     • ROUTE 51 OOPS! — Last week, in this column, I mentioned that roadwork was underway on Route 51 South between Cleveland and Boody, instead of Cleveland and Elwin. I heard about the mistake BIG TIME with phone calls and a host of emails. Thanks to Dan Sebok for the most diplomatic correction: “Paul. I just read your article on the Rt. 51 work. For the work to get to Boody they are going to have to go through some corn and soybean fields to get to Rt. 48. I guess after all these years you are entitled to one mistake. Loyal reader Dan Sebok.”

     Actually, I live on the south side of Decatur not that far from Elwin so I did know better. Of course, it is nice to know that our readers keep close tabs on what I write. Anyhooo, the work on Route 51 South seems to be progressing nicely. I’ve been enjoying the drive each morning before construction workers arrive, in the one-lane traffic. All of the early morning speeders that come up behind me have to observe the speed limit because that’s what I drive. Of course, when the one lane opens back up to two lanes as we get closer to the intersection with First Drive, I feel like the pace car driver at the Indy 500 who drives off the track as the green flag is waved and the race begins!

     • BAD NEWS! Last week’s editorial in the Wall Street Journal about the terrible condition of education in Illinois, and especially in Decatur’s public schools, brought almost as much response from our readers as the misnaming of Elwin on Route 51 — and the readers were upset about what was written and how it made our community look. If you haven’t read the Wall Street Journal editorial, here’s a sampling of what was written, bashing Decatur’s public schools: “A child who can’t read in third grade can’t do word problems in fourth or science experiments in fifth. Promoting Decatur children to the fourth grade when 99% are below grade level in math condemns them to future failure. By 11th grade, 5% of Decatur’s students are reading at grade level and 4% are on par in math. Why shouldn’t every single adult presiding over the Decatur schools be fired?” OUCH!!!

     One of our readers sent me the following email: “It was also mentioned on Fox Business where Stuart Varney said after reading it that he was glad he did not live in Decatur. Not a good report on our schools.”

     Of course, there are denials (including at the state level) that Illinois’ public schools aren’t that bad, and the pandemic was responsible (the statistics inthe WSJ were compiled in 2019, before the pandemic) or its political, or things have improved since those statistics were gathered. One thing I know for sure: The Wall Street Journal is the business bible for companies and so many who make decisions that impact the present and future in our community. How many people and companies would think of moving to Decatur after reading that editorial! Whether true, or not, the perception was created that Decatur public schools are in terrible shape.

     “Perception” is very often believed to be the “truth”, whether it is or not. It may be unfair, but that’s the reality of how many people will make the decision to move into our community, or even Illinois. That editorial was very damaging to everything that is happening in our city, and state, today. Little wonder that people are leaving Illinois in droves each year.

     • THE FIRST Friday in October just didn’t seem right this year without the WSOY Community Food Drive which ended last year after a long, successful run. It was such a great event and an example of the good hearts and giving spirit of our community and beyond. Thanks to Brian Byers, Kevin Breheny and so many others who worked very hard in the quest to help others in our community who needed what came out of the food drive, That Friday in October each year was one of the most rewarding days during my years as mayor and also the years as a private citizen. The far-reaching impact on so many lives will never be known — for both those in need and those whose gave to meet that need.

     • THIS week, my Scrapbook article on pages 4 and 5 of the print and online editions is about the Transfer House and how it has been 60 years this year since it was moved from Lincoln Square to Central Park. I remember when we lived on Packard Street and I would ride my bike to the Carnegie Library at Main and Eldorado, It was always awesome to me to look south down Main Street and see the Transfer House dominating the center of Lincoln Square.

     When I got my driver’s license the first time I drove to Lincoln Square and around the Transfer House as a rite of passage into adulthood. It was also a tradition that the groom would push his bride around the Transfer House in a wheelbarrow after they were married. (I never did that, but several people I know, carried on with that tradition,) The Transfer House created a lot of memories for a lot of people and it is always enjoyable to write about and reflect about those special times.

    • THANKS TO Steve Bingamon who was recently at a sale that included a plate embossed with the Transfer House and its history — and he thought of me. That’s what he told me when he gave it to me. When I reminded him that it has been 60 years (1962) since the Transfer House was moved to Central Park, I don’t think he realized it had been that long. Neither did I, until I wrote about it this week.

     • I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. every Thursday morning at 7:00 for the “City Hall Insider”.

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