House District 61 candidates Mason, Yost weigh in on Madigan's leadership
The status of Illinois Speaker of the House Mike Madigan is as much a political issue as it ever has been, and the two candidates for the House's 61st District weighed in on how they would address it if elected.
Republican Dan Yost of Antioch is challenging first-term Democratic incumbent Joyce Mason of Gurnee in a district that includes their hometowns as well as Winthrop Harbor, Beach Park, Zion and others parts of northeast Lake County.
Both Mason and Yost were asked in a Daily Herald questionnaire whether Madigan, a Chicago Democrat who has been implicated in the ComEd bribery scheme but hasn't been charged, should resign his leadership positions, and if they would support him for a new term as speaker if he didn't. Madigan has denied any wrongdoing.
"If at any time anyone in our government is proven guilty of abusing the public trust, they must be held accountable -- without exception," Mason said. "And I have called on my fellow legislators to stand with me to enact the strongest ethical reforms so we can all get back to fully focusing on the important work that we have been entrusted with by our constituents."
Mason described the criteria she would use for casting a vote for speaker.
"I will vote for a House speaker who puts the needs of Illinois residents first," she said. "The individual I vote for must be committed to addressing the concerns I hear from residents in our district, including rising health care costs, systemic racism, property taxes, environmental protection, domestic violence and the need for more high-paying jobs in our local economy."
Yost characterized the role of House speaker and Madigan's long tenure in less abstract terms.
"Yes, he should resign from all of his leadership positions," Yost said. "Illinois needs change in leadership if we are going to change the trajectory of our state. After 40 years, it should be clear to everyone that, guilty or not, change is not something we can expect under Speaker Madigan's leadership."
Yost described Madigan's influence as something that affects more of Illinois' character than just the House.
"We need to put an end to the culture of corruption and give residents the confidence that their government is working for them and not the political class in Springfield. That won't happen as long as Speaker Madigan remains in power," Yost said. "This is not a partisan issue. Reform-minded Democrats have also called on Speaker Madigan to resign. If elected, I absolutely will not and never will support him as House speaker."