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Edly-Allen hoping to revive political career with victory over former colleague in race for a Lake County Senate

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Tuesday, June 21, 2022  |  Article  |  Ben Szalinski

Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) decided to end her Senate career after 10 years in Springfield and is now backing former Rep. Mary Edly-Allen (D-Libertyville) to be her successor in a competitive primary against veteran lawmaker Rep. Sam Yingling (D-Grayslake).

 

Edly-Allen served one term in the House, narrowly losing to Rep. Chris Bos (R-Lake Zurich) in the 2020 Election for the 51st House District. But 2021’s redistricting process put Edly-Allen in a more favorable Senate district that covers Libertyville, Grayslake, Round Lake, Zion and parts of Gurnee.  

 

Bush said Edly-Allen checked her boxes for being a progressive and hard-working lawmaker that she feels would best be able to deliver results for the district.  

 

“I really care about the people of the district and that’s why when I was stepping down, I wanted to make sure there was someone who was stepping in that was a hard worker,” Bush told The Daily Line. 

 

Edly-Allen said the race is about the “old versus the new” and trying to replace Yingling, who has been in the House for 10 years. Yingling’s campaign did not respond to multiple requests for an interview.  

 

“Where is their heart and what is their motivation? Mine has always been to serve and this is just another opportunity,” Edly-Allen told The Daily Line. 

 

The redrawn 31st Senate District should favor a Democratic candidate going forward as Lake County’s voting population begins shifting more to the left, Bush said.  

 

“We’ve seen with population changes and the Republican Party becoming extremely far right –we’ve seen the suburbs align with the Democrats,” Bush said.  

 

Priorities

 

Edly-Allen, a teacher, said she has a lot of priorities on her list if reelected. She already has a binder of potential bills and issues to tackle that she kept from her first term in the House. They include environmental bills, such as a plan to teach kids about cutting down on waste rather than just recycling, a pro-choice agenda and plans to better use property taxes.  

 

“People really love their strong school districts, and your property values are directly related to how strong your school is, so these things don’t come for free,” Edly-Allen said. “And I would like us to kind of look at property taxes as something that we’re making our community better [with].” 

 

Edly-Allen said tax increment financing (TIF) reform is also a key issue to tackle so that communities get more out of their taxes. She said Libertyville’s use of a TIF district to redevelop their downtown areas into a haven for small businesses, dining and foot traffic is a good example of how a TIF district should be used.They should not be used to subsidize development for large companies, Edly-Allen said. 

 

But there is one avenue she would not use to reform property taxes. 

 

“You don’t have task forces that put binders on a shelf that go nowhere,” Edly-Allen said. 

 

Yingling chaired a property tax task force in 2019 that has been widely criticized by lawmakers and editorial boards for producing little to no reforms to bring down property tax rates.  

 

Edly-Allen also says combating gun violence is a top priority and suggested a ban on automatic weapons, longer waiting periods before someone can buy a gun, stronger licensing requirements to own a gun and a greater emphasis from lawmakers on how to safely store a gun. As a teacher, she also said conversations about stopping school shootings should focus more on preventing the shooting from happening rather than how to stop the shooting once it starts.  

 

“I’d like to really change the narrative and stop expecting teachers and children to make themselves safe,” Edly-Allen said.  

 

A record to run on 

 

General Assembly records show Edly-Allen was the chief sponsor on five bills that became law during her two years in the House, which was affected by spring 2020 COVID-19 shutdowns. Of those five, she said she’s most proud of PA101-0290 because it passed unanimously and requires high school counselors to talk to students about vocational schools rather than just higher education. She also took credit for a portion of the Legislative Black Caucus’ economic pillar that was passed in January 2021 that capped consumer loans at 36 percent.  

 

However, she said she is most proud of her work gathering support among House Democrats to pass the 2019 Reproductive Health Care Act, which keeps abortion legal in Illinois even if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.  

 

“I didn’t knock on all these doors to not do big stuff,” Edly-Allen said.  

 

Bush said Edly-Allen’s work on the bill is a big reason she is supporting her in the race.  

 

“That [bill] would not have happened without Mary Edly-Allen,” Bush said. 

 

Edly-Allen also addressed why she participated in the January 2021 lame duck session in a limited role, which caused her to miss key votes on the Black Caucus’s packages, including the SAFE-T Act, which passed the House by one vote. 

 

“I missed session because I was losing my medical insurance” and decided to return to teaching at the beginning of January to get paid and have insurance, Edly-Allen said.  

 

She said she traveled to Springfield on one of the final days of session at Rep. Justin Slaughter’s (D-Chicago) request to vote in favor of the SAFE-T Act but returned home to teach before a vote was taken when she learned the bill had enough votes to pass.  

 

Edly-Allen and Bush said voters should be concerned with Yingling’s legislative record. . Bush called Yingling a “populist” candidate who will

do whatever he needs to get reelected and said she didn’t work with him much on issues despite representing the same area. 

 

“I would say [my endorsement] is more about how I see Mary than Rep. Yingling,” Bush said. “But I would say he’s also not consistent on issues.” 

 

Yingling was also one of 19 members of the 102nd General Assembly who turned their backs on former House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) and blocked his bid for another term as speaker in 2021.  

 

Edly-Allen was not reelected in 2020 and is not part of the 102nd General Assembly, but argued she was “one of the first five” lawmakers to oppose Madigan’s reelection as speaker before Election Day 2020 during a League of Women’s Voters debate. Yingling announced his opposition to Madigan’s reelection after Election Day. 

 

“The reason I wasn’t all flashing lights is because number one, Speaker Madigan deserves the respect,” Edly-Allen said. “Number two, him leaving is not going to clear up all the ethics stuff that goes on.”  

 

“He should be credited for all the wonderful things he did do,” Edly-Allen said, adding he kept the party unified, but there were times where she believes he should have supported harder working candidates.  

 

Endorsements and contributions 

 

Endorsements for Yingling and Edly-Allen have added up in the race. Yingling is supported by a large group of state and local lawmakers in Lake County, Personal PAC, the Associated Firefighters of Illinois and several anti-gun violence advocacy groups. 

 

Edly-Allen has been endorsed by Gov. JB Pritzker, the editorial boards at the Daily Herald and Chicago Tribune, and several unions, anti-gun advocacy groups and Personal PAC. 

 

Pritzker’s endorsement of Edly-Allen, which was announced on June 1 and the first day of Pride Month, did not sit well with Yingling.  

 

“As a gay man, I am used to being bullied,” Yingling said in a statement. “But, I did not expect to be attacked on the first day of PRIDE month by a fellow Democrat.” 

 

Edly-Allen said they planned to announce the governor’s endorsement at the end of May by feeding the story to the Daily Herald, but those plans fell through and the June 1 announcement was a coincidence.  

 

Edly-Allen closed March with $10,868 in her campaign account, but has since added at least $321,700, including $55,000 from Pritzker.  

 

Yingling ended March with $108,555 in his campaign account and has since added at least $92,500 with help from several incumbent House members.