There is an epic and overdue shift coming to Democratic politics in Springfield. State Senate President John Cullerton announced his coming resignation, either being chased or shamed by the corruption swirling around his caucus. Or maybe he wants to spend more time with his family.
The feds are deep into an investigation of Democratic state senators, lobbyists attached to them, and the industries footing the bill for all the political muscle. Sadly, a focus of the multiple threads of the investigation is in our general neck of the woods with State Sen. Martin Sandoval and Cook County Commissioner and McCook Mayor Jeffrey Tobolski in investigators’ crosshairs.
Add in the putrid culture of sexual harassment in the state capitol and the desire for substantive change is upon us.
Two of the names prominent in reporting of possible replacements for Cullerton are even more local. And both Kimberly Lightford and Don Harmon have made plain their interest in the promotion.
Majority Leader Lightford, of Maywood, reps River Forest, Forest Park and parts of Oak Park and Austin. She is a smart and effective legislator who has driven education reform among other issues. She has a common touch along with sharp political instincts.
Harmon, an assistant majority leader, is Oak Park’s favorite son. Present and well connected locally, Harmon is a deep thinker by the standards of state government. And he is persistent, too. When a progressive income tax finally gets passed, Gov. J.B. Pritzker will get the credit. But it is Harmon who has been pushing his Fair Tax for evermore.
There are other names in the mix for what is often a once-in-a-generation opportunity. And we’ll allow that the cultural forces at work in this moment point toward the virtues of a woman running the senate.
But Illinois would benefit from either Harmon or Lightford stepping up to this key leadership role.