After several decades of state Sen. James Clayborne's antics with getting state jobs for female friends and cell phone salesmen as well as trying to consolidate the district that dared discipline his son, we have an opportunity to replace him with fresh thinking that doesn't follow the same failed path. The first opportunity to get this right is Tuesday.
The Republican primary for the 57th state Senate district is a no-brainer. Vote for Tanya Hildenbrand.
Hildenbrand has a law degree and is a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve with 29 years of service, including as a senior intelligence analyst deployed to Afghanistan, Kuwait, Turkey, England, Guantanamo Bay and the Pentagon. She has an agenda to get property taxes under control, consolidate government with a vengeance and hammer state spending on prairie chicken relocation and cable TV for inmates.
"Instead of complaining about my taxes, I'm doing something about it. I am stepping up. It's time for out-of-the-box thinkers, with operational success and common sense to fix the problems that politicians have created," Hildenbrand wrote. "I have lived my life with honor and distinction and I am running for office to make a difference in my community and state."
She has proven leadership ability and experience. She understands the need to be frugal and efficient with other people's money. She has honor.
Her opponent? Not so much.
Bob Romanik was twice convicted of felonies. He cannot legally run for a school board or city council, but an oddity in the Illinois Constitution lets him run for the statehouse.
His first indictment in 1981 came after he was fired as Valmeyer police chief for padding his overtime, but they couldn't prove it was forgery. He spent three stints as Washington Park's top cop, making the village safe for illegal gambling and strip clubs, including his own.
The gambling ring led to his first felony conviction in 1997, when he lied 150 times to a grand jury probing the $48 million racket. His second felony came in 1999 when he was convicted of lying to a bank to get a $1.5 million loan to build a strip club.
He is best known as the "Grim Reaper of Radio" for his N-word and obscenity-laced AM talk radio rants, but recently our opinionated friends at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch pointed out that Romanik failed to declare all his political self-promotion on the radio as in-kind campaign contributions. His rants against Hildenbrand entitle her to the same amount of time and time slot under the federal broadcast equal-time rule.
But maybe the worst is that he was too lazy to tell voters his stands on the issues and then lied about why he didn't. He was sent a written invitation to fill out a candidate questionnaire on Jan. 24. He was sent a written reminder Feb. 21, given a verbal reminder while on the phone Feb. 23, and then a final written reminder Feb. 27.
When Hildenbrand's principled, no nonsense responses were printed Tuesday, there was a note that opponent Romanik failed to respond. He took to the airwaves to lie about the BND refusing to print his responses.
A fabricated conspiracy makes better radio than "dog-ate-my-homework" sloth.
Springfield remains a mess. Do you send in a smart military leader to bring about order, or do you send in the clown?
Hildenbrand has the Chicago Tribune's endorsement, the respect of her party and our backing in the Republican primary.