A fundamental part of our representative democracy is that we vote for politicians who we expect to then serve out their terms working for constituents.
When they resign those posts, like several Illinois politicians did in recent weeks, it undermines our democracy. Then we are represented by whomever the party picks, not whom we elected.
Illinois leaders need to be giving the public more reasons to trust politicians and the election process, not less.
State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, recently announced his resignation to join Gov. JB Pritzker’s staff as a senior adviser. Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, announced his immediate resignation on Dec. 31.
Both seats will now be filled by their respective party leaders, going on the ballot again in 2022.
Eight members of the Illinois General Assembly resigned between the last time it was in session in late May and this week.
Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, who recently lost re-election for his District 66 House seat to McHenry County Board member Suzanne Ness of Crystal Lake, resigned just weeks before his term ended as well. After his adamant declaration to the Shaw Media Local News Network and Daily Herald editorial boards during the campaign that he was committed to the race and rumors otherwise were false, he decided to not serve out his current term.
Instead, he sent a resignation letter stating he had moved to Arizona to a home with a swimming pool but lower property taxes because, “like many, I can no longer afford to stay in Illinois.”
It’s not the only game our lawmakers play with resignations. Before the next statewide election, we are bound to see more lawmakers resign and their party-appointed replacement run as an incumbent in the next election.
It happened when Craig Wilcox took over Illinois’ 32nd District Senate seat from Sen. Pam Althoff when she resigned just months before Wilcox was on the ballot against Democrat Mary Mahady. Althoff herself was initially appointed, not elected, to the 32nd District post.
The same happened with the 33rd District Senate seat now held by former St. Charles Mayor Don DeWitte, who was appointed to the post at nearly the same time as Wilcox after Karen McConnaughay resigned.
That made both DeWitte and Wilcox incumbents for their seats, historically an advantage, even though the voters hadn’t elected them.
There are plenty of games played in Illinois politics and few of them benefit the regular taxpayers.
Musical chairs in the General Assembly is one of them and it needs to stop.
New Democratic leadership in the House early this year and ending the clogged artery of fairly assessing bills from both parties, would be a great start.
But a world with fairly drawn maps, honest politicians and our elected representatives serving out their terms shouldn’t be too much for voters to expect.