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 Tuesday, May 21, the 141st day of 2013. There are 224 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: On Monday the 11th inst. on Center Ridge in Mercer County,some citizens got out their cannon to celebrate the taking of Richmond. The gun wasoverloaded and burst. No one was injured, but one 30-pound piece went though thesecond story of a house. 1888 -- 125 years ago: The old folks concert at the Harper Theater last night to benefit St.Luke's Cottage Hospital, attracted a large audience. 1913 -- 100 years ago: Unless depredation by vandals in Rock Island parks is halted,special policemen will be assigned to night duty to protect the flowers and other property. 1938 -- 75 years ago: Station WHBF has received a special citation from Washington forits participation in Air Mail Week, which was observed this week throughout the nation. 1963 -- 50 years ago: A 10-year high in employment in the Quad-City area was reachedat the end of the last quarter, according to an industrial employment barometer releasedtoday. 1988 -- 25 years ago: Pee Wee teams will be able to play baseball and softball as usualon Diamond Three at Dorrance Park this summer, but after that, the ball field is doomed.County crews have put the diamond back in shape after heavy trucks marred the playingfield earlier this spring. Illinois Department of Transportation crews drove onto it to makeborings for the relocation of the junction of Illinois 84 and the Port Byron-Hillsdale road.