Should teachers carry guns? 51st District candidates disagree

Differences on several issues - including whether teachers should be allowed to carty guns in Illinois classrooms - emerged between Republican state Rep. Helene Miller Walsh and her Democratic opponent at a candidate forum in Barrington.

Teacher Mary Edly-Allen of Libertyville is facing Miller Walsh in the Nov. 6 election for the seat representing House District 51. The district includes all or portions of Lake Zurich, Long Grove, Libertyville, Mundelein and the Barrington area.

Miller Walsh, a Mundelein-area resident, was appointed to replace state Rep. Nick Sauer of Lake Barrington, who resigned amid accusations he posted nude photographs of an ex-girlfriend over social media without her knowledge. Sauer's term expires in January.

Edly-Allen and Miller Walsh appeared together Saturday at a forum hosted by the Barrington Area Library District and League of Women Voters chapters representing the Palatine, Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect and Buffalo Grove areas. Both women are in their first election for public office.

On the issue of allowing teachers to be armed in Illinois classrooms, Miller Walsh said she supports the idea for those who are well trained, in an effort to make students safer. Edly-Allen opposes the concept.

"This idea that arming teachers is a solution, no," Edly-Allen said. "I think Miss Walsh needs to go to a school and see how they operate at this point, because you cannot walk right into any school anymore."

Responding to a question read by moderator Tahman Bradley, Edly-Allen said she favors high schools holding classroom discussions about sexual consent and LGBTQ issues. Miller Walsh panned the suggestion.

"I believe that the schools are supposed to teach reading, arithmetic, history and provide for physical exercise," Miller Walsh said. "I believe that these other discussions should be had at home and in the church or your synagogue or your mosque."

Edly-Allen went on the offensive against Miller Walsh in the forum's closing comments.

"This race is a microcosm of our country," Edly-Allen said. "We represent the two spectrums of what we have right now in our country. We have homophobic, racist, kind of xenophobic views and we have the other side."

Miller Walsh - an advisory board member at Project H.O.O.D., an inner city nonprofit organization started by Pastor Corey Brooks in 2012 - addressed Edly-Allen's claims in her closing statement.

"I'm not xenophobic," Miller Walsh said. "I have traveled the globe. I've been very fortunate, but I do believe that people who belong here (should) come here legally. I am not a racist. I spend a lot of time on the South Side of Chicago and have been doing so for five years."

Ex-congressman's wife appointed to seat of legislator who resigned amid sex scandal

  Republican state Rep. Helene Miller Walsh, right, and her Democratic challenger, Mary Edly-Allen, appeared at a candidate forum Saturday in Barrington. Moderator Tahman Bradley is in background. Miller Walsh and Edly-Allen are running in the Nov. 6 election for a seat in House District 51, which includes all or part of the Barrington area, Lake Zurich, Long Grove, Libertyville and Mundelein. Bob Susnjara/
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