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10th District House Race: Candidates Are Ready for a Change

U.S. Rep Danny Davis, D-Ill., Pamela Reaves-Harris, and Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) at Reaves-Harris’ endorsement event. (Photo by: Sheila Headspeth)

On Tuesday, five candidates will compete against an incumbent who is facing bribery charges in two months and a veteran cop who’s running for the third time, making the 10th district House race one of the most vigorous races in the primary election.

The 10th district is represented by Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago) and extends from Lincoln Park to Garfield Park. It includes many neighborhoods like the Ukrainian Village, the West Loop, Wicker Park, Bucktown and Austin.

Smith was elected in November 2011. He was expelled from office in August 2012 for allegedly taking a $7,000 bribe to support a daycare center.

Voters returned him to office in November 2012. Despite everything, he’s hoping to be re-elected in 2014.

“No one has to worry about my integrity,” said Eddie Winters, a veteran Chicago police sergeant who replaced Smith after he was expelled.

Winters, who is running for the third time, said he thinks his experience in Springfield sets him apart from the other candidates.

Winters said when he drives around the district he sees many empty store fronts with no economic development and he wants to repair those buildings.

Winters also said he would focus on funding schools and decreasing the high foreclosure rates in the district.
Winters is endorsed by Gov. Pat Quinn (D), Secretary of State Jesse White and Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd). Waguespack’s ward is in the 10th district.

Pamela Reaves-Harris, is endorsed by U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., and Ald. Jason Ervin (28th). At an endorsement event last month in a backroom of Ruby’s Soul Food Restaurant on the West Side, Davis, Ervin and Reaves-Harris’ supporters gathered to explain why they support her.

Davis said he’s endorsing Reaves-Harris because she is qualified and cited her work as an attorney as a major qualification.

Reaves-Harris said because of the high unemployment rate in the district, she wants expand the workforce and bring jobs.  The 10th district has been underrepresented for the last few years because of Smith, she said.

“There are too many issues facing our district and we need someone who will put full focus and attention on them,” Reaves-Harris said.

Antwan Hampton, a college professor, said he was raised in a single-parent home, got his General Educational Diploma and was in the army and said that prepared him to be in office. Hampton doesn’t have any endorsers.

“I’m not tied to any of the political machines in Chicago,” Hampton said. “I believe that that’s a good thing because I’ll be able to represent the people [well]. I don’t owe any favors to anyone.”

Hampton said he sees connections with unemployment with violence.

“We’ve had a lot of violence and a lot of people unemployed and those individuals are taking to street corners and engaging in violent behavior,” Hampton said.

Beverly Perteet, who taught in Chicago Public Schools and taught General Education Degree classes, is from the West Side and said protesting school closings inspired her to run for office.

“None of our elected officials are standing up to stop [the school closures],” Perteet said.

Mark Calonder is the only republican candidate in the election and this district has a history of mostly electing democrats.

Calonder is also focused on the district’s crime, but he wants people to have the right to bear arms. On his website, the example of a single mother living in a bad neighborhood needing to protect herself is used as an argument for the right to bear arms.

After several calls were made to Smith’s Springfield and Chicago office, his legislative assistant said she couldn’t schedule an interview and to find Smith on social media. Unlike many other candidates for public office, Smith does not have a social media presence.

Smith’s federal trial is expected to start in May. If he’s elected and then convicted, he would definitely be forced to leave again. If he leaves the position, the Democratic committeemen will choose a replacement.

Michael Madigan, Illinois House Speaker, is supporting Smith during this primary election.

Kent Redfield, political science emeritus professor at the University of Illinois Springfield, said Madigan’s support for Smith shows true loyalty. Madigan has given Smith about $29,000 for Smith’s campaign.

Smith has received $22,000 in campaign contributions from his committee. Reaves Harris has about $22,000 in campaign contributions from her committee. Winters has about $16,000 in campaign contributions from his committee. Hampton, Perteet and Calonder have no campaign contributions.

“Other than the question of Smith’s character, there aren’t many other issues involved with this,” Redfield said. “He has shown some resilience in terms of being able to win last time. On the face of it, it looks like he’s probably alright [with the election turnout].”

Redfield also said that the other candidates don’t have many campaign contributions. “Clearly, the other candidates on the ballot really aren’t serious,” Redfield said on their minimal campaign contributions.

The primary election is on March 18.



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