Abernathy: Voters deserve chance to vote on Independent Map Amendment
Many voters and supporters of the redistricting initiative in Illinois suffered a loss on July 2 when Cook County Circuit Judge Diane Larsen ruled that the proposal did not meet the requirements of the Illinois Constitution to be put on the ballot before voters in November.
Dawn Abernathy, a Republican campaigning for the District 59 State House seat, finds the ruling troubling and believes fair mapping would be beneficial to Illinois.
“I was disappointed in the recent ruling that found the initiative unconstitutional,” Abernathy told the Lake County Gazette. “A fair map would be an important step in protecting the interests of all voters, not just those of whichever party happens to be in power. In poll after poll after poll, Illinois voters have supported such a change, but they can't get the ruling class to put it on the ballot.”
Over 560,000 people signed the petition supporting the initiative, which calls for an 11-member commission to redraw the map. It was challenged in court, and Larsen ruled that the process was not limited to “structural and procedural” changes to the legislature as required by the Constitution.
Abernathy still believes in the good that the remapping initiative could provide.
“I am running for office to give families and businesses a voice in Springfield,” Abernathy said. “This begins with letting voters choose politicians, not letting politicians choose their voters. A lawmaker who doesn't have to earn your vote doesn't have to listen to you. Competitive elections produce better candidates — and better, more responsive representatives.”
The candidate said her opponents’ defense of the current map-drawing process is an empty argument. Their objective, she alleges, is to protect partisan advantage and not to promote fair representation.
“The Independent Map Amendment is a good government initiative that will reform the rules and require a process of drawing maps that is transparent, impartial and fair,” Abernathy said. “Illinois elections should reflect the will of the people, not the politicians.”
Reflecting and responding to the will of the people are especially important at a time when people are leaving the state for better employment opportunities. The recent jobs number showed a diminishing Illinois workforce, with the state losing over 2,200 jobs.
“The No. 1 issue facing Illinois and impacting our budget is our inability to compete with other states for jobs and economic development,” Abernathy said. “Illinois is blessed with great infrastructure, world-class educational institutions, a highly skilled workforce, and a diverse base of industries. Illinois should be leading the Midwest with a booming economy, providing high-quality jobs for our families. Instead, families and businesses are fleeing because of high taxes and overly strict regulation.”
Abernathy said the state has been trailing the nation over the past two decades when it comes to job creation and opportunities.
“Since the year 2000, the 50 states combined have created almost 12 million net new jobs,” Abernathy said. “Illinois has created no net new jobs. Illinois has fewer jobs today than we had 17 years ago. If we don’t correct that problem, nothing else matters.”
Abernathy said she is going to Springfield to reform state government, reduce taxes, and improve the business climate so that middle-income workers can find and keep jobs.
“I’m going to Springfield to ensure government is serving our interests,” Abernathy said. “Another tax hike will just allow the politicians to continue spending our money on their pet projects or to line the pocket of entrenched political supporters.”
Part of Abernathy’s solution to fix the state’s problems is to pass term limits, which she said would help reduce the presence of career politicians in office and reduce the mismanagement that allegedly has plagued the state.
“For far too long, the State of Illinois has been run by career politicians and special interests willing to do anything and say anything to hang on to power,” Abernathy said in a statement issued to the Lake County Gazette. “We have had decades of mismanagement, corruption and insider favors. Term limits are a way to start to fix the broken political system.”
Abernathy is calling for prospective candidates like herself and incumbents, including her opponent, State Rep. Carol Sente, to stand with Gov. Bruce Rauner and be an Independent leader in Springfield.
“Sign the pledge to change the culture in Springfield,” Abernathy said. “(Sente) should demand a vote in the next session of the Illinois General Assembly to limit the terms of service to no more than 10 years combined Senate and House terms and no more than eight years for the governor.”
Abernathy said there should not be any reason for any legislator to oppose term limits because they have bipartisan support, as well as the support of nearly 4 out of 5 residents.
“At any time, the Illinois Legislature can bring a term-limits amendment up for a vote,” Abernathy said. “Let the people of Illinois decide. Mike Madigan has blocked every attempt to bring term limits up for a vote. I call on Carol Sente to be the independent you claim to be, and support term-limits legislation being on the 2018 ballot. It is time to let the people decide.”