Ira, Four Others File for 8th District Senator

The Illinois State Board of Elections reports that petitions have been filed for the following candidates for Illinois State Senate in the 8th District :

Ira Silverstein
Ram Villivalam
Caroline McAteer-Fournier
Zehra Quadri
David Zulkey

All the candidates are Democrats who live in Chicago.

The next phase of the elections process is for opponents to file objections to these petitions; these must be filed no later than Monday, December 11.  If no objection is filed to a candidate’s nomination papers, the papers are presumed to be valid.

I checked each candidate’s reported campaign funds this morning and learned the following:

Ira Silverstein (Silverstein for Senator) has $89,169.57 on hand. He received $9,200 of that in November, including $1,200 from the Realtor PAC; $1,000 from the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association; and $7,000 from the Chicago Land Operators Joint Labor-Management PAC. His October contributions were from lobbying groups (SEIU, AFSCME, and PhRma) and brought in another $5,000.

Ram Villivalam (Friends of Ram) has raised $40,535, all of it between November 7-11, 2017, including $5,600 from himself. Another $5,600 came from his wife, Elizabeth Granato, identified on her November 7 contribution as the Manager of Business Development for the Public Building Commission of Chicago.

Interestingly, there are numerous small donations reported to other political groups, mainly the Indo-American Democratic Organization, from an individual named Ramachandra Villivalam who lives (or lived) in Naperville. This is the name under which Ram Villivalam was employed when he worked for Brad Schneider. Ramachandra’s Naperville address puts him in the 21st Senatorial District.

Nothing wrong with moving to a district where your political chances are better. Maybe he moved after his recent wedding. However, the Indo-American group reported an expenditure of $466.52 for Ramachandran Villivalam for a “mailing” on September 28, 2017. Since Villivalam is their current president, I would think they know where he lives. This donation-in-kind does not appear on his disclosure to the State Board.

The last thing we need is a repeat of the battles of the 2015 aldermanic election, when one candidate claimed to live in the ward but didn’t.

Caroline McAteer-Fournier (Caroline for Illinois) has not reported any contributions or expenses.

Zehra Quadri (Zehra for Illinois) has not reported any contributions or expenses.

David A. Zulkey (People for Zulkey) has not reported any contributions or expenses.

The lack of funding for the latter three candidates indicates how hard it is for female and independent (i.e., not politically-connected) candidates to acquire the obscene amounts of money now required to be considered credible candidates. Huge campaign war chests are often misinterpreted as proof that a candidate has the backing of the people, when the truth may be simply that the contributions of a few wealthy individuals and groups have bought the race.

We finally have the opportunity for participatory democracy in this State Senate race.
Let’s take it.

 

 

 

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Identity Politics Already Mars the Race for Ira’s Seat

The first candidate to announce he’ll run against Ira Silverstein for the 8th District Senate seat couldn’t wait to also announce that he’s running as an Asian-American “…to bring more diversity .” He added that the district has “the highest concentration of Asian-Americans in the state.”  He says he wants to be “a progressive voice,” but then claims the ethnic-pride vote. Some progress.

This is a bad start to a long race.  The primary is only four months away (March), and then it will be a very long eight months until the November 2018 election. Let’s not forget that the Republicans have a chance in this district, too.

Ram Villivalam  may talk about Illinois needing a “new generation”  of politicians but youth won’t matter if they practice the same old politics. Diversity is meaningless if the end game remains the same. Political consultants have so divided this country into competing special interest groups based on race, ethnicity, religion, and grievance that we’ve lost sight of and interest in the common good.

The religious candidates have yet to weigh in, but they’ll no doubt be announcing soon, too. Then there are representatives of all the other ethnic groups in the district. Not everybody will have the money to support a campaign, and the big bucks go to the early candidates. If he’s already announced, you can bet he’s got the backing. And it took only a week.

He’s never held office before.. Perhaps Mr. Villivalam should consider testing his appeal in a more diverse district, where his ideas might count for more than his ethnicity.

Identity politics should have no place in this race. Illinois has enough problems..