With the headlines focused on the full-bore ascendency of Democrats in Illinois, attention rightly turns to new Governor J.B. Pritzker and the swearing-in Monday of an all-Democratic roster of state constitutional officers.
Our headline, though, is on the deserved recognition of two veteran local Democratic state senators who have risen to the heights of influence within the senate. Oak Park-based Sen. Don Harmon's role as head of the Senate Executive Committee continues and carries considerable substance in driving the progressive agenda for Illinois.
Winning the more dramatic promotion is Sen. Kimberly Lightford. The Maywood native represents portions of Oak Park, all of River Forest, Forest Park and much of Proviso Township. She has now been appointed Senate Majority Leader, the number two post in the senate. She replaces James Clayborne Jr. who has retired.
Certainly, it is notable that Lightford becomes the first black woman to hold this post. She is also president of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, another post of considerable influence.
Beyond that is Lightford's considerable political and policy chops. She earned this post because she is a legislator with clear policy priorities, focusing directly on unmet needs in her communities. She is savvy and persistent enough to make those priorities real on-the-ground change.
We look particularly at Lightford's public education focus and the statewide impact of her legislation, which forced high school districts to radically change direction on suspensions and expulsions of students. This is a restorative justice approach that makes so much sense and goes straight to the inequities in how schools have dispensed discipline along racial lines.
For Harmon's part, we look to his determined efforts to move gun safety legislation through to the incoming governor's desk after years of hard work and to the necessary shift to a progressive state income tax, Harmon's Fair Tax, about to become the next essential discussion in fixing the state's broken finances.
Our communities have offered up to the state two legislators with progressive values, deep knowledge and political skills to make genuine change happen.
This editorial has been updated to reflect that Lightford replaces James Clayborne Jr.
Answer Book 2018
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