Illinois sorely needs Democratic state representatives willing to challenge the authority of House Speaker Michael Madigan, but state Rep. Kenneth “Ken” Dunkin’s erratic behavior in the Legislature, showing little appreciation for when a solid front really is smart, looks more opportunistic than brave. Voters in the 5th District, a skinny swath that stretches from Grand Crossing on the South Side to Goethe Street on the Near North Side, should choose the well-informed Juliana Stratton, who has a strong background in public policy, including her job as the director of the Center for Public Safety and Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Stratton, a Bronzeville attorney who specializes in civil rights and employment discrimination, is backed by CTU President Karen Lewis, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and big labor organizations. That’s not necessarily all good, but at least Stratton’s financial support in this Democratic primary comes from actual fellow Democrats.
Dunkin skipped a crucial vote to overrule Gov. Bruce Rauner on spending cuts for child care and services for the elderly and disabled. He also torpedoed a Democratic effort to override a veto of a bill designed to limit Rauner’s control of collective bargaining with public unions. Now, much of Dunkin’s campaign money comes from groups with Rauner ties. Also troubling, it was revealed last week that Dunkin twice was convicted in the late 1990s of violating orders of protection and battery, and he failed to pay child support.