This is our last edition before next Tuesday’s General Election and I think everyone I have talked with, including candidates, are happy to see this campaign nearing an end. I share those feelings and explain why in my “View-point” column on page 3 of this edition. We are overloaded with “Letters to the Editor” this week in the print and online edition and had even more letters supporting candidates but they came in after our deadline and could not be included.
All letters received before the deadline are in today’s edition — and letters supporting candidates have also been in previous editions. Interestingly, the overwhelming majority of letters supporting candidates in this edition, that we received before the deadline, are for either Shane Mendenhall or Andrew Weatherford, the two candidates in the race for Macon County Circuit Judge.
There is one letter this final week supporting any candidate who wants to represent us (Macon County) in Congress or in the Illinois General Assembly. That lack of “letter power” may be the result of so many uncontested races so there isn’t the same need for candidates to be endorsed in “letters”.
• AS I wrote in my Viewpoint column this week, I had a lack of enthusiasm for voting when I cast my ballot on Friday. One reason for my lack of enthusiasm was that, as a voter in Macon County, I had very few choices on the ballot. Major county offices of county clerk, county treasurer and county sheriff had incumbents without opposition listed on my ballot. That’s not the fault of Josh Tanner, John Jackson or Jim Root and it could also indicate that most residents are satisfied with the job they are doing.
• AS I’VE mentioned in past City Beat columns, Macon County is divided up into three state senate districts and five state representative districts which means we are chopped up like political mincemeat! Out of the three state senate races involving voters in Macon County, only one is contested — in the 48th between Sandy Hamilton and Doris Turner! That race was not on my ballot. Out of the five state representative races involving voters in Macon County, only one is contested — in the 96th between Lisa Smith and Sue Scherer! That race was not on my ballot.
• THE LACK of choices was very apparent when I looked at my uncontested choices on my ballot that included the part of Decatur (Macon County) where I live. My ballot listed Steve McClure of Springfield as the only candidate for that office. I’ve talked to Steve McClure on the phone about meeting with him but, to this date, we haven’t met. I covered this campaign focusing on candidates in races that were contested, not those without opponents. My ballot listed Brad Holbrook of Shelbyville as the only candidate in the 107th district. I knew actor Hal Holbrook better than I do Brad Holbrook I’ve never met Brad Holbrook, or talked with him, or received an email from him. Hopefully, that will change after he is elected.
• THANK goodness for the race between Shane Mendenhall and Andrew Weatherford for Macon County Circuit Judge which makes me feel needed as a voter. That’s where most of the local interest is focused as you can see by the volume of letters to the editor for each candidate. I also had a few other choices including a competitive county board district race and a few proposals to consider on the ballot.
• I LIVE in South Wheatland Township and there is a proposition on the ballot for those of us living there stating “Shall the prohibition of the sale at retail of alcoholic liquor be continued in South Wheatland Township, County of Macon, State of Illinois?” Yes or no. Regardless of how you feel on this item be careful that your vote reflects that choice. It’s kind of like the sentence: “Yes we have no bananas”. “Yes” continues the prohibition and “No” eliminates the prohibition.
• AN AMENDMENT on the ballot is touted as the Workers’ Rights Amendment. The amendment will ask voters whether they wish to establish a constitutional right for employees to organize and bargain collectively, specifically to negotiate “wages, hours and working conditions and to protect their economic welfare and safety at work.”
Labor groups have largely supported the measure, including the Chicago Teachers’ Union, the Illinois chapter of the AFL-CIO and the SEIU. Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Illinois Democrats support the amendment.
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce believes the passage of the amendment “would be another ‘blackeye’ for Illinois and its ability to retain and create jobs. Voter approval of this constitutional change only adds to the negative perception that Illinois is unfit to locate or expand in. On behalf of the Illinois business community, we encourage everyone to ‘vote no’ this November.”
• QUESTION: One of our readers, who was also an election judge in the last election, sent me an email about his concerns about a candidate who was on the ballot showing up at the polling place where he was working. He wrote that State Rep. Sue Scherer of Decatur walked through the building “talking to everyone”.
“No other candidates showed up there,” he wrote. “I would like to hear what she has to say as it would be hard to vote for someone who passes laws that we have to obey and she won’t follow them herself.”
I contacted Sue about the man’s concerns and she responded: “Paul, I consulted with our election attorney to be certain I had been told the correct election law. I went inside (the polling place) with no name tag or T-shirt campaign logo. I simply asked if turn out was good and if there were any problems. I didn’t ask anyone for a vote.” She also sent me the election attorney’s reply regarding the issue:
“This is the language for the credentials in the Election Code that allows a candidate to be in a polling place. This section also says that the candidate running in a multi-county district can be admitted to any and all polling places throughout the district without regard to the county in which you are registered to vote. A candidate can be removed from a polling place if a majority of the election judges in the precinct believe that the candidate is engaging in activity that can be reasonably construed to be campaign activity.”
Thanks to Sue for the quick response, which is especially refreshing this campaign when there are some candidates that only respond to questions after being asked two or three times, and a few who never respond.
• CLOSING DOWN — Helen Albert, District Director for the Office of Congressman Rodney Davis (IL-13) sent me an email letting me know that his Decatur office at 243 S. Water St. will be closing down in December.
Rodney has always been extremely good in staying in touch with this editor during the years that he has served in Congress. We sat at the table in this newspaper’s conference room and discussed the issues when he was first running for the office and whenever we needed to sit down and talk about any issues which concerned me or he felt our readers needed to know. Rodney brought back a lot of dollars to this district over the years and leaders in our community and communities making up this district have lamented how much clout we’ve lost in D.C. this election year.
Thanks to Rodney and Helen for all of the work they have done in our community. I will miss that “political and personal” contact and that Decatur office only a block south of this newspaper’s office downtown.
• CONGRATULATIONS! The Illinois Broadcasters Association announced recently that they have introduced a new award this year, and two team members from Neuhoff Media are thonored. Carolyn Hilligoss, Comptroller Neuhoff Media and Tim Schweizer, Sports Announcer for WFMB-AM.
“We are thrilled for Carolyn to be among the first Illinois Broadcasters Association Vanguard Award winners” said Neuhoff President/CEO Mike Hulvey. “Carolyn’s dedication behind the scenes for almost 50-years at WSOY and for the past 14-years with Neuhoff Media, is a great example of her dedication to our profession. She has seen so much change in her time but one constant is her professional approach to the business of our business.”
I don’t know Tim. but I’ve known Carolyn for many years and I see her every Thursday morning when I go to the studio to appear on WSOY’s Byers & Co. (She unlocks the door to let me inside.) I don’t know of anyone who is more deserving of the award. Congratulations to Carolyn and Tim.
• THANKS to Dale Jenkins of Decatur for sending me the fall edition of “The Flyer”, The Magazine of Illinois Terminal Railroad History, which has a two page spread on “Decatur’s Fairview Park And The Traction”. Dale is the president of the Illinois Traction Society and the magazine is extremely attractive and the photos are interesting to view. If you need more information about the Illinois Traction Society you can email Dale at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
• LOOK OUT! The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting an increase in the number of counties at an elevated level for COVID-19. The CDC released data showing that 38 counties in Illinois are at an elevated community level for COVID-19, up from 26 counties last week. Five counties are rated a High level and 33 are at Medium. IDPH is reporting 13,642 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, and 67 deaths since October 21. There have been 347 COVID-19-related deaths in Macon County since the pandemic began.
• I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. every Thursday morning at 7:00 for the “City Hall Insider”. I always enjoy our discussions each week.