Will County Republicans rally against Cook County
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain Sun-Times Media firstname.lastname@example.org September 10, 2012 3:40PM
Brian Woodworth, the Republican facing U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. attended Monday’s rally in Joliet against the Cook County Democratic party, but did not mention the long medical leave of absence taken by his opponent.
But afterward, he criticized the Jackson camp for not keeping constituents informed.
Jackson is reportedly recovering from bipolar depression at his Washington, D.C., home after being treated at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
“Why doesn’t he come back to his home in the district?” Woodworth asked. “Why isn’t he communicating with anybody in his district? Is he really serious about this campaign anymore? I say no.”
Rick Bryant, a spokesman for Jackson, would not comment on Woodworth’s statements.
As for when Jackson will return to Congress, Bryant said, “That will be up to the doctors. I couldn’t tell you.”
Cindy Wojdyla Cain
Updated: October 12, 2012 6:13AM
Will County Republicans rallied around the courthouse in Joliet on Monday to declare their independence from Chicago-style politics and fire up supporters for the Nov. 6 election.
Thirty-nine Republican candidates and elected officials signed an oversized copy of the declaration, which stated the “inept and often corrupt leadership of Chicago and Cook County has caused significant damage not only to their own county, but the entire state.”
Chicago Democrats have “conspired essentially to colonize the County of Will for the benefit of themselves,” the declaration continued.
The event, co-sponsored by the Will County Republican Party and the Will County Tea Party, was triggered in part by a redistricting map that split Will County into six congressional districts.
“With redistricting, the Chicago Machine has sliced Will County into six pieces, half of which belong to Chicago Democrats,” Republican Party Chairman Ed Ronkowski said in a pre-event statement. “Will County Democrats stood by silently and allowed this to happen, essentially turning Will County into ‘Will Colony.’”
The six districts include those currently represented by Cook County Democratic U.S. Reps. Bobby Rush, Jesse Jackson Jr. and Daniel Lipinski.
Helen and Joe Sluis, of Mokena, attended the rally because they don’t like being lumped into Rush’s district.
“We came out because we agree Chicago and Cook County are trying to take over Will County,” Helen Sluis said.
She said she’s old enough to remember when Rush was a Black Panther.
“If Chicago wants to have him, that’s OK, don’t force him upon us,” she added.
Marilyn Knater of Frankfort said she attended the rally because she is a conservative voter and she’s worried about the future for her five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
“I’m very much against big government,” she said. “Most of our politicians don’t believe in the Constitution anymore.”
Republican Cory Singer, a candidate for Will County executive, said a recent RTA tax increase is an example of how Chicago is siphoning off Will County assets.
“Will County keeps half of it and half of it goes not to the RTA but it goes to pay for the Chicago Transportation Authority’s pension fund,” said Singer, a county board member from Frankfort and president of the Will County Forest Preserve District. “That’s about $20 million a year.”
Scott Pyles, chairman of the Will County Democratic Party, said having six representatives in Congress isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Will County now has more representatives to watch over its fate, and Lipinski and Rush have both made concerted efforts to visit their new territory, he added.
But Singer, who will face incumbent Democrat Larry Walsh in November, said the Cook County representatives don’t need Will County votes to win their districts because the majority of their votes come from Cook County.
“Half of this county’s population is going to have to go to the city of Chicago to see their member of Congress,” Singer said.
Pyles also said he found it odd that Republicans would protest Cook County Democrats when their party chairman worked for many years as a prosecutor for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office under Democrats — former Mayor Richard M. Daley and Richard “Dick” Devine.
“If they’re trying to declare independence from Cook County, he was part of the Cook County machine,” Pyles said of Ronkowski. “If they’re protesting that, then they should be protesting their chairman.”
Ronkowski said he wasn’t part of Cook County machine politics and he was ostracized because he was a Republican.
“Two supervisor threatened to fire me because I was too heavily involved in Republican politics here,” he said.
Pyles did not organize a counter-rally.
“I think they probably could find something better to protest about, but it’s a free country and they can protest what they want.”