What's driving the candidates in 58th state House race
Republican Fredric Bryan "Rick" Lesser and Democrat Bob Morgan have very different reasons for seeking election to the state House's 58th District seat.
Lesser said he was motivated to run by Illinois' population decline. Morgan said he was primarily inspired by President Donald Trump's controversial 2017 travel ban targeting predominantly Muslim nations.
Lesser and Morgan discussed their motivations and other issues Friday during a group interview with the Daily Herald. The election is Nov. 6.
The 58th District includes parts of eastern Lake County and some parts of northeastern Cook County. The seat is open because state Rep. Scott Drury, a Highwood Democrat, isn't seeking re-election.
Lesser, a Lake Bluff lawyer, was appointed as the Republican nominee for the post this summer by GOP leaders. Highland Park resident Cindy Masover won the Republican primary but later withdrew.
Lesser said he's running because he's "seeing Illinois' decline," particularly in population.
Illinois lost more residents than any other state between July 1, 2016, and July 1, 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's estimates. The plunge dropped Illinois to sixth place in population, and it was the only state of the 10 most populous to lose residents.
"We were a magnet for people from all over the country," Lesser said. "And that has changed in the opposite direction."
A former Lake Bluff trustee who unsuccessfully ran for Lake County Board in 2012, Lesser criticized the state for lagging others in job growth and wage growth. He complained about declining property values, too.
Lesser blamed the changes on "bad policy in Springfield," especially unfunded pensions and other debt. He also blasted Illinois abundance of local governmental units, far more than any other state.
Those factors "are causing Illinois to recede and to get smaller rather than to grow and to give my kids, your kids, everybody's family opportunities," Lesser said.
Morgan, a Deerfield lawyer, said he was moved to seek elected office after Trump restricted travel to the U.S. by citizens of seven majority Muslim nations. Morgan said he was among the attorneys who went to O'Hare International Airport to help detained travelers during the ban.
"To me that was an unconscionable action by the government," Morgan said. "I saw the ways in which the state and federal government were not functioning and not supporting the values that I and my community hold, so I decided to jump in to fight for those values."
Morgan also is a strong proponent of public schools and said a lack of support for teachers and public education "(is) an affront to me."
Additionally, Morgan said he favors expanding health insurance coverage, reducing insurance premium costs, enacting gun safety legislation and protecting abortion rights.