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When Illinois Democrats redrew the state senate district boundaries they didn't do any favors for their handpicked replacement for Lou Viverito, who retired mid-term in February 2011.
Steve Landek, who took over Viverito's seat, was drawn into the new 12th District, which is a heavily Latino district compared to the present 11th District, and Landek is vulnerable.
His opponent, a community activist/muckraker Raul Montes Jr., has spent almost his entire campaign stating why voters shouldn't choose Landek, charging that he was offered a job and cash from Landek to drop out of the race (something Landek confirmed), that Landek doesn't live in the district and that Landek improperly used a public venue to hold a private meeting.
Montes, on the other hand, could do a better job of convincing voters why they should pick him to be their state senator. He has spent little time getting his own message across, focusing instead on trying to demonize Landek.
He says he's for reforming the pension system, cracking down on Medicaid fraud, rooting out double- and triple-dippers in government (like Landek, who is also mayor of Bridgeview) and against privatizing public assets. He opposes red light and speed cameras and would like more police officers hired throughout the state, although he doesn't explain how to pay for those salaries and their impact on pension obligations, especially since he'd like the state income tax lowered.
Landek is an admitted process wonk, who is not prone to introducing game-changing legislation. On issues like pensions and education funding, he says he's a realist - you make the incremental changes you can as you go. He also suggested across-the-board cuts, a la Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinckle, as a possible way to trim the state budget.
But we don't see real reform coming from Landek, who knows that's he's vulnerable to a Latino opponent, even one who has as little to offer as Montes. He's spent lots of effort to knock Montes off the ballot, an effort that's been unsuccessful.
We also don't like the company Landek keeps. He's aligned closely with the Town of Cicero and its president, Larry Dominick. Landek hired Dominick's spokesman to serve as a communications point person during the campaign. It's also somewhat odd that Landek's biggest contributor in this campaign is his own local political party. What message does that send to the rest of the district? That Bridgeview, particularly a specific political party in Bridgeview, comes first?
To us, Landek is representative of the culture in Springfield that led to the condition the state's in right now. He hasn't been there very long, so it's hard to judge him on his short record there, but we're not convinced he can provide the kind of leadership that can help lead Illinois out of its financial morass.
Quite frankly, neither of these candidates does much for us and we don't offer an endorsement in this race.