We hold our state legislators in such low regard these days why do we care who gets the nod, the nudge, the clap on the back to become Oak Park, Austin, River Forest and Maywood’s next state rep?

If you dozed off here’s the chronology. Ike Carothers was the alderman from Austin. He gone. That’s what happens when you take bribes, get indicted, plead guilty. They send you off to the small rooms with the vertical metal shades. There you can find Jesus, think about why you are the second consecutive generation in your family to go from alderman to felon, and maybe you drop a few pounds. Yes, Ike, I’m talking about you.

The mayor of Chicago, who has now appointed more than half of all aldermen, held a totally open and transparent process featuring online applications before he appointed the new alderman. Going way outside the box, Richard Daley astoundingly chose the current state rep from the 78th District, Deborah Graham. Don’t get me wrong, I sort of like Graham. But it is all like frickin’ baseball managers. There is no way into the circle. Everyone gets perpetually recycled. Voters hire them, very occasionally fire them. Courts convict them. But they all wind up employed in the public sector and earning pensions.

So now Graham’s seat is left open. It must be filled because, well, because there are important instructions from Mike Madigan to be carried out and he is short a minion. In any event we must have a state rep and so we shall. How does that happen? Well, there is a completely open and transparent process. Actually happens this Saturday at the Carleton Hotel when the folks interested in driving back and forth to Springfield to take their orders from Madigan get to explain why they’d be really good at it. Then the Democratic committeemen, and yes, this is just as inside as it sounds, get to choose. The committeemen are mainly women. We’ll take that as slight progress. There’s State Rep. Karen Yarbrough from Maywood, Ald. Emma Mitts from Austin, Sen. Don Harmon from Oak Park. Plus another pair of aldermen, River Forest’s committeeman and, of course, Deborah Graham.

Here’s the danger. Politics locally being what they are, getting appointed the Democratic state rep from this district is akin to being named to the Supreme Court. Unless you outright and incompetently steal money, this could be a lifetime appointment. There are seven candidates. One is a white guy from River Forest. Toss him out. This is rightly a black seat. Another white fellow is former state rep Ted Leverenz. He is sadly seeking a final hurrah. Way too late Ted. Two candidates are seeking the double pension bump-up from current service in the Chicago Park District or county government. There is a Princeton grad who won’t finish law school for another year.

That leaves two people I know a bit and admire. Camille Lilly has worked at Loretto Hospital for many years as its public face to the community. She also heads the Austin Chamber. Rev. Marshall Hatch is pastor of New Mount Pilgrim Church on the West Side.

I’m not making an endorsement here. These are two good people. Hatch is the political progressive here, the outsider. Lilly is the inside candidate. She knows everyone. She works hard at building alliances. Alliances had more appeal in a day when everything didn’t feel so tarnished.

So do you want someone with an activist agenda or do you want a consensus builder? An important question. Too bad you don’t have a vote on the decision. That’s politics.

Join the discussion on social media!

Dan Haley

Dan was one of the three founders of Wednesday Journal in 1980. He’s still here as its four flags – Wednesday Journal, Austin Weekly News, Forest Park Review and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark – make...