Will GOP Declares Independence From 'Chicago Machine'
Infuriated by new district maps in Illinois, Will County Republican officials and candidates signed a "declaration of independence," calling on voters to stop the "tentacles of Cook County" from reaching into Will County policy.
Area Republicans rallied Monday to declare independence from "the tentacles of Cook County and Chicago politics" reaching into Will County. The gesture was symbolic but served to fire up a crowd of well over 100 people as the Nov. 6 election nears.
Last year, Illinois Democrats drew new state and congressional districts that Republicans say could remove any Will County representation in Congress.
"We have to take back what's ours and make sure we stand up for it," said Dave Carlson, the Republican candidate for Will County state attorney. "To implement what we believe in, we need the voters' support in November."
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Various elected officials and candidates for office spoke outside of the Will County Courthouse, with 39 signing the declaration of independence. Bolingbrook resident Raquel Mitchell, a political coordinator for two Republican candidates, read the declaration to the roaring crowd.
"The new congressional map sliced Will County into pieces," she said. "Half of all Will County congressional districts will likely be represented in Congress by a Chicago politician ... Will County Democrat elected officials stood silently as their home county was cut apart."
The signees included state and congressional candidates, as well as local candidates for Will County Board and other positions such as the Lockport school board.
Redrawn maps extended the 1st Congressional District, represented by longtime incumbent Bobby Rush (D-Chicago) all the way to rural Jackson Township in Will County. Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski's 3rd District moved into much of what had been Rep. Judy Biggert's 13th District. Biggert is now in the redrawn 11th District, which was previously held by Tea Party favorite Adam Kinzinger (R-Manteno). His district shifted west to allow for the 1st District to extend south.
Officials have questioned whether a congressman from Chicago could truly represent the interests of Will County. During a 2011 meeting in Frankfort to discuss county pipelines, Rush said it's something he already does.
“This is a forerunner of what I plan to do,” Rush said. "I've always represented the suburban area. This is not my first time being in Frankfort."
All of the re-mapping could leave Will County without a resident representing congress. County Republicans said the larger problem was that local officials haven't done enough to protect Will County's interests on the issues of redistricting, taxes and a possible third airport.
County executive candidate Cory Singer (R-Frankfort) attacked opponent Larry Walsh (D-Joliet) for inactivity on these issues. One Singer mentioned was a Regional Transportation Authority tax increase that helped fund Chicago Transit Authority pensions.
"Why did they do that? Because they could," he said. "You know what local officials did?"
Singer let his silence represent his take that they did "nothing."
The redrawn maps didn't discourage 2nd Congressional District candidate Brian Woodworth, who will face off against Jesse Jackson Jr.
"We are going to go to Washington and represent the people of the district ... not special interests," Woodworth said. "That's the machine we're up against. The mysterious beast known as the Chicago machine."
A call to Will County executive Larry Walsh's office was not returned as of Monday afternoon.