Chicago Sun-Times, 2/18/16
State Rep. Christian Mitchell has a bright future. He is fighting the right battles — for sensible gun laws and better public schools — and he’s taken at least one tough stand in his first three years in the Illinois House, voting to cut public employee pension benefits.
Last year, Mitchell introduced legislation to license all gun dealers in the state. On education, he supports the implementation of a new funding formula that would benefit the Chicago Public Schools and poor suburban and downstate school districts.
“Our formula right now does not do enough to account for kids in concentrated poverty, who are [English as a Second Language] learners and special-needs kids,” he said in a meeting with the Sun-Times Editorial Board.
Mitchell, a University of Chicago graduate, has earned our endorsement for re-election in the 26th District in the Democratic primary. He serves an economically and racially diverse district that stretches narrowly along the city’s lakefront from the Near North Side to the South Side’s 10th Ward.
Mitchell’s opponent, community activist Jay Travis, has criticized Mitchell for voting to cut pension benefits, but shared sacrifice is the only way Illinois will ever solve its financial problems. Taxpayers, public union employees and recipients of state aid all will feel the pain. Mitchell made the right call, though the state Supreme Court ultimately declared the pension bill unconstitutional.
It’s important to stress, in this respect, that Mitchell nonetheless has been endorsed by several major labor groups.
Travis also is a rising star. Supporters of Dyett High School in Bronzeville can thank her for the school’s anticipated reopening; she was a major force behind the effort. Travis is backed by the powerful Chicago Teachers Union. In a different race on a different day, we might look forward to endorsing Travis. But in the 26th District, voters already are represented by a class act.