Oct 17, 2022 - Politics

Trail Mix: Midterm referendums tackle two big issues

Illustration of the Illinois State Capitol building with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

👋 Hi, Justin here with my weekly political column, Trail Mix.

The midterm ballot has two big questions this year: one on workers rights and another on increasing Cook County Forest Preserve funding.

Why it matters: These ballot measures could change the way Cook County — and Illinois — works, lives and plays.

Forest Preserve Referendum: The measure proposes increasing property taxes .025% to protect, expand and maintain Cook County Forest Preserves.

  • Currently less than 1% of the property tax revenue goes to the preserves.

What they're saying: A coalition of supporters says the tax increase would amount to "less than $1.66/month for the vast majority of homeowners."

  • The measure would also add 3,000 acres of preserve and help the Forest Preserve pension obligations.

The other side: Although few welcome higher property taxes, this proposal has met little opposition.

Workers rights amendment: Another aims to make permanent the right to collective bargaining as part of the Illinois Constitution.

What they're saying: Advocates include the Illinois Federation of Teachers, which says the amendment would "guarantee the right of workers to bargain for safe working conditions, fair pay, and benefits.

"The other side: The Illinois Policy Institute argues that the ballot question should be about reforming pensions, not raising taxes.

  • They also argue that giving unions permanent bargaining rights would result in higher property taxes to pay public workers.
More election nuggets

Blurred lines: Former ABC-7 political reporter Charles Thomas was once a trusted voice on the local news. Now he's getting paid to say he trusts Republican gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey.

  • In television ads called "Real Talk with Charles Thomas," he talks off-camera about how much he trusts Bailey because he's a farmer.
  • What's even blurrier is that the ad is airing right before the ABC-7 10pm news.

How many people actually watch debates? Capitol Fax broke down the numbers after WGN-TV suggested the first televised gubernatorial debate was a ratings bonanza.

  • But after the site did some math, they found just 5.5% of registered voters in the local media market watched.

Endorsement time: The Tribune endorsed Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker over Bailey, even though Pritzker didn't appear before the editorial board after claiming its prior coverage had been unfair to him.

  • The historically conservative Tribune picked another Democrat, Alexi Giannoulias, for secretary of state.

Between the lines: There was a concern that when the Sun-Times announced it would stop endorsing candidates, the Tribune would endorse only conservative candidates.

  • But that hasn't materialized.

Of note: This is the Tribune's final gubernatorial endorsement as its parent company announced it will stop the practice after this election.

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