Evanston Democrats sweep races

Susan Du, City Editor

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Skokie) and State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) all won by a wide margin Tuesday night against Republican challengers Timothy Wolfe, Glenn Farkas and Eric Lieberman. Debra Shore, commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, was also re-elected.

As the wins became apparent, cheers erupted from local Democrats at the candidates’ joint watch party at Evanston’s Prairie Moon. Biss, formerly a state representative, will step up to the senate vacancy left by Jeffrey Schoenberg (D-Evanston). Incumbents Schakowsky and Gabel retained their posts, the former collecting 66 percent of the vote and the latter 62.4 percent with 97 percent of precincts reporting.

Schakowsky left Prairie Moon early in the night to join crowds at McCormick Place in Chicago — but not before predicting her win.

“I’m hoping that you’re going to have a great celebration, I want to tell you,” Schakowsky said to local supporters. “I appreciate you so much and I’m very hopeful that my election is going to go just fine. I owe you all of that. Thank you so much.”

Gabel attributed her lead early in the night to the campaign efforts of supporters, noting that the Democratic Party of Evanston helped knock on 37,000 doors.

“There’s a lot to do in Springfield, as you all know,” Gabel said in anticipation of her work ahead. “And we are here to represent the people so we are really looking forward to working with all of you. I believe in an approach where it’s grassroots up so I’m counting on all of you for your ideas.”

Evanston voters also overwhelmingly opposed unlimited political contributions from corporations in response to a referendum question asking whether U.S. Congress should pass a bill allowing the federal government and states to impose restrictions on them. Eighty-two percent voted in affirmation of the referendum question and 17 percent in opposition, with 50 of 53 precincts reporting.

The state referendum question of whether to amend the Illinois Constitution to require a three-fifths majority vote of governing bodies in order to increase benefits under a public pension system was split more evenly, with 55.8 percent voting in favor and 44.2 percent opposed. Designed to address the state’s daunting unfunded pension liability — $83 billion — the amendment has been met with resistance from unions that would incur difficulties in attaining benefit increases for public employees.