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Fairley for Democratic nomination for attorney general

Freeport Journal Standard

Tuesday, March 13, 2018  |  Editorial  |  Editor

Attorney General (6) , Candidates--Statewide (12) , Quinn, Governor (44) Raoul, Kwame--State Senate, 13
Of the eight candidates in the race for the Democratic Party nomination for Illinois attorney general in the March 20 primary, one stands out when it comes to prosecutorial experience, toughness and eagerness to confront government corruption: Sharon Fairley. Fairley most recently headed the city of Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which she overhauled and transformed from the old Independent Police Review Authority. Before that, she worked for eight years as a federal prosecutor. Fairley was hired by and worked with corruption- busting U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who sent two Illinois governors, Republican George Ryan and Democrat Rod Blagojevich, to federal prison. Fairley, who was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland, graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University with a degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering. “I wanted to design airplanes,” she told the Editorial Board. She then earned an MBA in marketing from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from the University of Chicago. She worked as an engineer for General Motors and ran the marketing department of a pharmaceutical company. Fairley came to Chicago and worked as an assistant Illinois attorney general before joining the U.S. attorney’s office. Besides her impressive resume, what we especially like about Fairley is her independence from the state Democratic machine run by House Speaker Mike Madigan, whose adopted daughter Lisa Madigan has been attorney general for nearly 16 years and is not seeking re-election.. “I don’t want the next attorney general to have ties to the political establishment,” Fairley told us. We agree. Fairley said that fighting corruption will be a major emphasis of her office if she wins. She pledged to strengthen the Government Integrity Bureau in the AG’s office “to ensure there are sufficient checks and balances in place to hold our public officials accountable and to restore the people’s trust in honest government.” Fairley also said she would name integrity officers in every region of the state to give residents a place to report complaints of government corruption without fearing that local politics would influence the outcome. Fairley is smart, tough and ready to tackle political corruption — something that has been lacking in the attorney general’s office. Former Gov. Pat Quinn and state Sen. Kwame Raoul of Chicago are considered favorites in the race. Respondents to a recent poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute showed Raoul ahead of the field with 22 percent. Quinn was next with 18 percent. The rest were stuck in single digits, although 39 percent of respondents were undecided. Raoul touts “a record of doing” in the legislature that included tougher penalties for repeat gun offenders. He worries that society is normalizing gun violence and would like to see investments in violence prevention. He thinks the approach should be multifaceted, with education, intervention and legislation. “Nobody comes out of the womb with a gun in his hand,” he said. “What drove them to a life of crime?” Quinn has many supporters in the Rockford region because of unprecedented investment in the area while he was governor. However, we think Quinn has had his chance in elected office. He’s been governor, lieutenant governor and state treasurer. Private citizen should suit him fine. Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering is near the top of our list because of her record reforming city government and taking on entities such as ComEd. Highland Park’s local assault weapons ban, the first in the nation, went to the U.S. Supreme Court. Justices refused to consider a challenge to the ban in 2015. She would use the power of the attorney general’s office to allow other communities to implement similar bans. Public defender Aaron Goldstein, cable news commentator and former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti, former Chicago Board of Education Vice President Jesse Ruiz and state Rep. Scott Drury round out the ballot. The candidates share similar, traditional Democratic positions on gun control, women’s rights and consumer protection. All are fine candidates, but Fairley has the right combination of experience, integrity and independence that would make her a good attorney general. Fairley is endorsed.