From Rep. Art Turner's Campaign Website
Statement of Rep. Art Turner
to the Democratic State Central Committee
March 20, 2010
Dear Democratic Committee Members,
Thank you for the opportunity to present myself for your consideration to be our party’s nominee for Lt. Governor on the November ballot. I appreciate the weight of the task ahead of you and the seriousness with which you are treating your responsibility.
I believe that the Lt. Governor plays a vital, essential role in State government, and I absolutely disagree with those who think that this is a do-nothing office worthy of elimination.
The limited constitutional duties of the office allow the Lt. Governor to become a unique resource for public access, an ombudsman for the entire executive branch, and an advocate on important but neglected issues. As you all know, throughout its history the office has brought focus to disenfranchised populations and communities. Neil Hartigan brought the plight of senior citizens to light, Corrine Wood focused on the challenges of rural Illinois, and Pat Quinn championed veterans during his time in the office.
As you measure your choices for this position, I believe there are certain yardsticks that are best used. The first yardstick is how well a candidate is qualified for this unique role and responsibility as Lt. Governor.
As Representative for the 9th District, I serve one of the State’s poorest communities, on Chicago’s west side. For thirty years I have represented the very people that the Lt. Governor’s office can most effect. Gov. Quinn has publicly stated his belief that the Lt. Governor’s office should continue its focus on veterans. I respectfully disagree. I have every respect for veterans, have supported many pieces of legislation for them, and I will help the Illinois Dept. of Veterans Affairs continue their excellent work.
But I intend to bring my own focus to the office.
I will focus on the challenges and problems that face our State’s youth. Gang violence destroys too many young lives, and absolutely must have a high-level solution. All of our State’s responsibilities and challenges – education, budget, health care, poverty and more – all affect youth more than any other segment.
The second measure of a candidate for Lt. Governor is how effectively they can participate in government with real solutions to the challenges facing our State.
I am known as the ‘Father of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund’, which is the type of legislative solution that marks my career. The Trust Fund’s activity has created more than 25,000 jobs and $500,000,000 in taxes for local and State governments in Illinois. In addition it has helped create 15,000 first-time homeowners in safe, affordable, fixed-rate loans, 25,000 affordable rental units in safe and decent properties, 7,000 homes for the elderly and hundreds of additional homes for veterans, foster care families, the homeless and others. The Trust Fund is run by a State agency at no cost to the Illinois taxpayer, and has the strong support of both Republicans and Democrats. These bipartisan, structural solutions exist in many other areas of government – prison reform being the most glaring. These are the types of big ideas we need to enact, and I have a proven ability to do so.
The third, related duty of the Lt. Governor is to support the Governor, and help pass his agenda through the legislature.
I submit that Speaker Madigan is a master politician, and that over the course of nearly two decades at his leadership table in the State House I have learned something unique and of significant value. With this training, and working with five different Governors, there is no one better qualified nor more knowledgeable than I to help legislators reach out to the executive branch, or to help the Governor connect with legislators for the benefit of all. Those who feel that the problems in Illinois are due to ‘career politicians’ are simply wrong. Legislation is difficult, experience is valuable, and successful legislators work very hard at their jobs.
I believe another important yardstick should be how well the candidate serves the Democratic Party’s ideals as the Lt. Governor nominee.
The Democratic Party does not need quotas of any kind.
There is no magic formula of downstate versus Chicago, of whites, or women, or minorities on a ballot that will guarantee Democrats a victory in November. Instead of hailing from a particular community or region, we need a nominee who has an honest
connection and a true understanding of the challenges facing all the State’s communities and populations.
I know the loss of manufacturing jobs is just as painful to rural and downstate communities as it is to my inner-city neighborhood. The brain drain and flight that hurt my Lawndale community is no different from other areas of the State that face declining populations. And the social problems we face as a State are certainly as acute in my community as anywhere. As Democrats we need to leave the politics of division and us-versus-them to other parties.
Similarly, the Democratic Party must not make this decision based on fundraising ability, as some have suggested.
Someone unqualified for office, but with access to too much money is what got our Party into this situation in the first place. (I need not to mention our previous Governor’s brilliance in fundraising, too.) In thirty years combined I have not raised half what one recent opponent spent on one primary election. Instead of fundraising acumen, I have independence and integrity. I was first elected as an independent democrat, and I have continued my independence for my entire career.
The Democratic Party does need to select someone who can win.
Some may say that my second place finish is bad sign, but I disagree. As a complete unknown in a crowded five-person race, I spent less than $60k on media but received 182,000 votes, took second place against someone who spent more than $2 million, and carried Cook County where the majority of voters exist. I take this as proof of my ability to win in November, and my ability to appeal to all Illinois voters. We just need an introduction.
I do not want to be the Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor because I came in second. I do not want to be your nominee because of my home address or the shade of my skin, or because some feel I am owed it, or because I have the support of any particular person or organization. I want to be our Party’s nominee because when you consider the duties of the Lt. Governor and the needs of the Democratic Party, I am the most qualified and the best choice. I want to be your nominee because I passionately believe in the ideals and principles of our Party as I have proven for the past thirty years, and because I will fight tirelessly for our entire slate between now and November 2.
The choice of our Lt. Governor candidate will say a great deal about our Party. Have we sufficiently prepared for leadership with this selection? Or are we making poor choices based on shallow reasoning? I know you take your responsibility seriously, and I ask that you entrust me with this great obligation as our Democratic Party nominee for Lt. Governor of Illinois.