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Steer clear of politics

The Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce is supposed to be apolitical, which is why it was distressing to see St. Clair County Associate Judge Heinz Rudolf, a candidate for circuit judge, speak to a chamber group on Wednesday, less than three weeks before the election. Executive Director John Lengerman said the chamber had planned to schedule Rudolf’s appearance earlier in the year but the timing didn’t work out. “We don’t endorse candidates and I hope people don’t take this as an endorsement,” he said. But when a candidate running in the only contested race in the 20th Judicial Circuit gets invited to speak and his opponent, Circuit Judge Stephen McGlynn, does not, it looks like political favoritism. Besides the fairness issue, McGlynn no doubt would have offered a much different perspective on the state of the St. Clair County courts. Rudolf asserted that the judiciary is “strong,” but that seems more wishful thinking than reality so soon after the Mike Cook drug scandal. This seat is open because Cook resigned and later was convicted of federal drug and gun charges. Rudolf didn’t even mention the scandal. For the chamber to be effective in its mission of supporting and advancing business, it needs to avoid so much as the appearance of being political. It missed the mark this time.