Candidates tussle over incumbent's 'effectiveness' in 42nd primary
The two candidates running for the 42nd state House seat in the March 18 Republican primary -- incumbent Jeanne Ives of Wheaton and challenger Adam Johnson of Warrenville -- strongly disagree about how much Ives has accomplished during her first year in office.
During a Daily Herald endorsement interview, Johnson said he is challenging Ives for their party's nomination because she hasn't delivered visible results since taking office last January.
Ives said she is an effective legislator who isn't afraid to take a tough stand.
The winner of the GOP primary in the district that covers all or parts of Wheaton, Winfield, Carol Stream, Warrenville, Lisle, West Chicago, Naperville and Woodridge will advance to the November general election. No Democrat has filed for the seat.
"In her time down in Springfield she has not successfully sponsored a single bill that has become law," Johnson said, while GOP representatives from five neighboring districts have introduced and passed multiple bills in the past year.
Ives confirmed that none of her bills has become law, but argued she filed important, "tough bills" and made comments at committee level that affected legislation that was passed.
"I didn't go down there to pass Bring Your Parent to School Day. I filed only landmark legislation that will actually do things in Illinois," she said, while other freshman representatives filed "fluff legislation" that passed.
Ives pointed to a pension bill she filed that would have prohibited members of select state boards or commissions that rarely meet to accumulate pension credits. She said it passed out of the House, but was grabbed by a Democratic senator who refused to pass it off on third reading.
Still, Johnson said Ives has been described as "perhaps the least influential member of the Illinois House," a quote he took from a comment Rich Miller, a blogger for the website capitolfax.com, made on one of his posts last August.
Ives said Johnson was being "disingenuous, or essentially lying" about someone calling her the least influential because it was from an anonymous comment on a left wing blog website.
In December, Miller wrote a post titled "Careful what you say," in which he said he did make the comment and notes Johnson's use of the quote in a news release announcing his candidacy.
Regardless, Ives said she believes she is serving her constituents well.
"The truth is, I'm extremely influential down there, which is why they want to make me sit down and be quiet," she said. "I went down there to represent the taxpayers of District 42 and I'm doing a great job doing it. The truth is the Democrats don't want me to have success."
Johnson said blaming the other party isn't a good excuse for not getting things done.
"It's not simply the case that Democrats can't be worked with or nothing can be accomplished. It is that our current representative specifically has been exceptionally ineffective in accomplishing results that benefit the residents of this community," he said.
Ives, meanwhile, points to a case last May when Chicago asked for a pension holiday, or approval to skimp on pension payments for Chicago Public Schools.
Ives said she took the floor and read a quote to the bill's sponsor, Northbrook Democrat Rep. Elaine Nekritz. The quote came from a Daily Herald article about a previous pension holiday that was approved in 2005. In the article, Nekritz said she was very sorry she voted for that pension holiday.
Ives said she respects Nekritz, but felt she swayed people to vote no by reading Nekritz's words back to her. The bill failed in the House with only 39 votes.
"Everybody expected that bill to pass. I killed that bill," Ives said. "I stood up for teachers at that point. I stood up for them. I stood up for fiscal sanity and Chicago is going to have to solve their problems with good legislation and not pension holidays."
But Johnson said he feels Ives' approach makes it harder to get things done.
"People who you personally insult are not going to work with you in the future," he said. "That's different than taking a stand on an issue and someone disagreeing with you."
Prior to being elected, Ives worked as a tax adviser and bookkeeper and served on the Wheaton City Council. She graduated with a degree in economics from the United States Military Academy at West Point and served in the Army from 1987 to 1993.
Johnson is a Harvard University and Wheaton Warrenville South graduate who works in the DuPage County clerk's office. He intended to run for the DuPage County Board last year, but said he changed his mind after hearing residents who were discontent with Ives.