Manifolds, Manolos, and Manure...
In November, Cook County’s voter turnout hit an eye-popping 28 percent, or the sixth highest recorded turnout in the last 12 years. With those votes comes a wave of new faces. In January, JB Pritzker, Juliana Stratton, and Kwame Raoul will join incumbents Jesse White, Susana Mendoza, and Michael Frerichs at the helm of Illinois’ government. Together they’re charged with leading Illinois out of impending fiscal doom and into prosperity. Governor-elect Pritzker won Cook County with over 71 percent of the vote.
On the federal front, Congressmen-elect Sean Casten and Lauren Underwood will join a wave of freshmen House Democrats. Like all freshmen, the Congressional class entering the 116th Congress will suffer from a lack of Congressional process experience, which will only be exacerbated by the fact that many experienced, senior Congressmen are retiring. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan opted not to run for re-election, which meant that regardless of the election, Congressmen would have to elect a new Speaker of the House. The Speaker will choose committees and committee chairs. Turnover is ultimately inevitable and with it comes a loss of institutional wisdom.
November also ushered in 13 new State Senators and 32 new State Representatives. With these new faces comes new opportunities and new relationships. It will also bring new faces to leadership given that many senior legislators opted not to run for re-election. The turnover is especially large given that 2018 was not a redistricting year.
With the elections, both the Senate and House Democrats added to their supermajorities. In January, the Illinois Senate will be home to 40 Democrats and 19 Republicans and the Illinois House will be home to 73 Democrats and 45 Republicans.
Beyond the borders of Cook County, November’s election highlighted the changing demographics of the suburbs. In DuPage County, there will be four new State Representatives and one new State Senator. For the first time, one Senate District will be solely represented by members of the Democratic Party. With change comes the opportunity to build new relationships and to create avenues for new commonalities. November meant opportunities- opportunities to fill the advocacy gap and the issue education gap. It will be of extreme importance to educate new and existing legislators on agricultural issues, including Farm Bureau’s positions on the Farm Bill, food security programs, crop insurance, immigration reform, and health care reform.
Regardless of how you voted in November, it is paramount that individuals with different ideas and opinions work together for the common good.