Gubernatorial campaign stresses student voting

By M. Robert Berg

Local campaign workers for Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Richard Phelan are urging students to vote in the primary and general elections, because strong student vote turnout will equal a strong voice in Springfield.

Lance Pacernick, regional media coordinator for the Phelan for Governor Campaign, discussed Phelan’s stances on issues close to NIU students and emphasized the importance of a large student turnout at the polls.

“We will have offices in Kane, DuPage and DeKalb county,” Pacernick said. “There will also be a Students For Phelan group forming, with two goals on campus.”

The first goal will be to get every student to vote in the primary election March 15 and the general election in November, he said. “A large voting block would mean more big-time politicians coming to NIU, and NIU getting a bigger share of the higher education funding.”

Pacernick outlined Phelan’s stances on a number of issues of most concern to NIU students, including education, employment, economic recovery and abortion.

“Governor (Jim) Edgar has done very little in the way of being an education governor,” Pacernick said. “The Chicago schools are an egregious example. He sat there (in Springfield) and said everything’s all right, while the schools are only open because of money they borrowed.”

An important duty of governor involves the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), a board that directly affects NIU students. “The governor appoints people on the IBHE, so it’s very important that students vote in a governor who’s in favor of higher education,” Pacernick said.

The Illinois employment situation will affect graduating students, and as of now the situation is not good, Pacernick said. “54,000 people have been unemployed since Edgar came into office,” he said. “Under Edgar, unemployment is up 26 percent, and 300 companies have either shut down and left or have laid off employees. This is not acceptable.”

A sound economic recovery plan is needed to alleviate unemployment problems, Pacernick said. “We need economic recovery outside of the gambling boats,” he said. “Phelan is in the process of detailing a recovery plan now.”

Tony Jacob, the vice chair of the Young Democrats at NIU and a DeKalb County Board member, said the economic situation in the state needs a big improvement. “We have cities like Rockford that have been voted as one of the worst cities to live in, and some southwest suburbs outside of Chicago that have been pointed out as the worst suburbs in America,” he said. “These towns have nothing to work with economically, and have problems with bad infrastructure.”

Currently, Phelan is the Cook County Board president, and in this position he stood up for his pro-choice beliefs on abortion. “He reopened Cook County Hospital for abortion services, based on the premise that abortion should be available to all, not just those who can afford it,” Pacernick said. “The case is about to go to the Supreme Court of the United States.”

By issuing this executive order, Phelan “stuck out his neck for pro-choice and equality,” Pacernick said.

Phelan’s campaign also is breaking precedent in Democratic primary elections with his choice as a running mate, Pacernick said. Phelan chose Illinois State Senator Penny Severns from Decatur as his lieutenant governor candidate.

“Usually the governor and lieutenant governor do not run together, but there are many advantages to running together,” Pacernick said.

“Phelan is turning around business-as-usual politics,” Pacernick said. “Severns is someone who is a decision-maker on the team, not someone who goes to ribbon-cutting ceremonies and public relations events.”

Since the March primaries have been scheduled for the week of NIU’s spring break, Jacob said he would help voters in delivering absentee ballots to people’s homes. “I will pick up the ballot from the county and drop it off at their home, so they can vote and send it back,” he said. For this service, Jacob’s number is 753-2731.

Also, the Students For Phelan group will be helping students register to vote, Pacernick said. “We will have registration tables on campus, where you can register to vote in about two minutes,” he said.