The Austin Weekly News endorses incumbent Deborah Graham for 78th District State Representative and Ald. Ed Smith for Cook County Recorder of Deeds. But we are endorsing both for very different reasons.
Our endorsement of Graham comes enthusiastically and without waiver. Graham has conducted herself professionally and has worked hard on issues such as health care, crime prevention and improving state funding for education. Graham also has a clear understanding of the issues and the district she serves, which includes Austin and Oak Park. We were concerned that she would become just another political slacker. She has not. Instead, she’s helped bring some stability to an Illinois General Assembly that’s in desperate need of more. She’s been present in the district without grandstanding. She’s highlighted issues without letting her personal ambitions get in the way of doing so.
Graham’s opponent, Austin Realtor Phyllis Logan, has a strong background in community volunteerism but isn’t ready for elected office.
As for Smith, our endorsement comes with less enthusiasm. Smith has served in the City Council nearly 25 years. He’s passionate and is a capable politician, as demonstrated in his leading the city’s smoking ban. But for so much time spent in the City Council, surely more could have been done in the 28th Ward during his tenure. While the smoking ban, and the recent sale of the long-shuttered Brach’s candy site can be seen as positives, these accomplishments have come too little, too late. A sure sign of the ward’s stagnation can be seen with the progress on Ald. Isaac Carothers’ 29th Ward and Ald. Emma Mitts’ 37th Ward. Both have served in the City Council in a shorter time than Smith but have been able to accomplish much more. But as Recorder of Deeds, Smith will be a breath of fresh air versus incumbent Eugene Moore, who’s the kind of political “insider” a city and community doesn’t need.