Dist. 23 State Senate candidate: Emanuel-recall bill about accountability
BARTLETT — Republican State Senate candidate Seth Lewis supports House Bill (H.B.) 4356 to recall Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, but said such a proposal should apply beyond the Windy City, to all elected officials in Illinois.
“I am not for vigilante legislation,” Lewis, a trustee to the Bartlett Fire Protection District who is vying to represent the 23rd Senate District, said.
“There is opportunity, no doubt, but at the same time, it should be applied to everybody,” Lewis recently told the DuPage Policy Journal.
H.B. 4356 would allow Chicago voters to recall Emanuel, who is facing increased pressure to resign over racially charged police shootings of black suspects. The bill, introduced by State Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Dist. 8), so far has garnered support from six State Senate candidates and 10 State House GOP candidates. Meanwhile, Emanuel has dismissed any calls for his resignation.
“I am not trying to target Mayor Emanuel as much as give the voters of Illinois another tool to hold their elected officials accountable,” Lewis said.
“I do support it," Lewis said. "I’ve read H.B. 4356 and would I modify a few things? Yes. But at the same time, it starts off in the right direction, I think."
Specifically, H.B. 4356 would establish a procedure to hold an election to recall Chicago’s mayor. Lewis wants to see the proposed bill modified, then put “on the books for mayoral candidates or people elected to be mayor” in any city across the state.
“It does spell out a precise process by which a recall election could be called … so there are some hurdles that you have to go through if someone wants to pursue this path,” Lewis said. “It is not just flippant legislation.”
However, Lewis said the recall process must apply to all elected officials.
“I believe in democracy; I believe in transparency and that the public owns the government,” Lewis said. “Do I like to see elected officials facing recall? No.”
But “where we are at right now in Illinois, with the disengagement of voters, this is a consequence where we have to implement a process like this,” Lewis said.
Lewis said he thinks H.B. 4356 is a result of voters being either ill-informed or not paying attention to the process until after something happens.
“I would like to see everyone more involved in electing the officials they want on a transparent process,” Lewis said.
Nevertheless, Lewis said the bill will get stuck in committee. “I doubt it will see the floor, in my opinion.”
Lewis is running against incumbent State Sen. Tom Cullerton (D) of the storied Cullerton political family, which has had a namesake on the Chicago payroll since the 1870s. Currently, the dynasty includes cousins Patti Jo “P.J.” Cullerton, the 38th Ward Democratic committeewoman for 20 years; Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Dist. 6); and former Northwest Side Alderman Timothy Cullerton, who retired earlier this year.
Many candidates seeking positions in 2016 are running against the so-called “Cullerton machine,” of which many family members have been aligned with Emanuel.
“Tom clearly has a lot of ties to the City of Chicago," Lewis said. "He is part of the Cullerton family. I am not surprised he is trying to stay silent or distance himself” from the proposed recall bill.
“What his exact opinion is, I am not sure, but silence does speak volumes,” Lewis said.
Tom Cullerton did not respond to requests from the DuPage Policy Journal at press time.