D’Amico defeats Biela in 15th District
by KEVIN GROSS
Democratic incumbent John D’Amico was re-elected to his eighth term in the 15th Illinois House District, defeating Republican challenger Amanda Biela in the Nov. 6 election.
D’Amico received 21,243 votes, or 61.3 percent of the total votes cast in the city and the suburbs, and Biela received 13,395 votes, or 38.7 percent of the total votes cast, according to election results from the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners and the Cook County Clerk’s Office.
"We ran a good, inclusive, positive campaign. The voters liked our message," D’Amico said. "I did not take a day off knocking on doors, and I want to thank voters and constituents who opened their doors and had conversations with me on their doorsteps."
"It was a hard night to be a Republican, all around," Biela said, referring to the election of Democrat governor J.B. Pritzker and Democrat gains of several House seats in the state. "But we’re pleased in how we did in the city, we increased the Chicago (Republican) vote by about 6 percent, which is not insignificant. I personally don’t have regrets as to how we ran our campaign."
Leading up to the election, D’Amico said he was confident that voters would look at his record as a legislator, which includes drafting the graduated driver’s license model now used nationwide, as well as his advocacy for social issues and public amenities.
"We’re always trying to improve our schools, parks and libraries," he said. "That goes hand in hand with making our neighborhoods more desirable. I’d always vote for things like that to help our district."
D’Amico also said that his opponent was unrealistic with her campaign proposals.
"Her talking points sound good, but when you financially try to implement them I must ask, where are you going to make cuts?" D’Amico said. "When she was hammering me about my vote on the (income) tax increase, the reason I voted was that Rauner drove us so far into the ground that we couldn’t let our schools or our mental health institutions close. That was literally on the table (to be cut)."
Biela, an Edgebrook resident and former CPS teacher, ran a fiscally centered campaign around limiting property and income taxes and shrinking municipal government. She opposed "machine" politics and expressed concerns about the direction that Illinois is headed.
"With a now larger (state) Democrat majority, I don’t feel a lot of people on the left tackling fiscal issues in any way that creates real reform. I don’t think a progressive (income) tax would help, you’ll see more people check out of Illinois," she said. "I don’t know how 4 years of Pritzker will go."
D’Amico, who is also a Chicago Department of Water Management foreman and the nephew of Alderman Margaret Laurino (39th), said that he was excited about the election results and what Democrat legislators could accomplish in the upcoming years.
"I’m very optimistic with what can happen in Springfield in the near future," he said. "We’ll have a governor that will listen and work with us. The biggest thing as an official is that you have to be able to listen."
This election was the fourth time that D’Amico faced an opponent in the general election in his 14-year career. In 2016, 2014 and his initial election year in 2004 he received more than 60 percent of votes against his Republican opponents.
Despite the election loss, Biela expressed optimism that the race signified increased competitiveness in future Northwest Side races.
"Many of the last cycles he (D’Amico) was not opposed. I think at least having a contested race changes expectations and gets people more excited. I encountered voters who said, ‘I’m voting straight Democratic except for you,’ and I think there are a lot of people who are willing to be independent on local issues," Biela said. "As ‘the Machine’ dies out there could be new openings for people, regardless of party."
D’Amico scoffed at the notion of Republican competitiveness.
"Right now Republicans can’t even hold their suburban seats. They (Republicans) have vilified Mike Madigan for the last 5 years. And guess what, he got stronger," he said. "We take every election serious and work extremely hard to get the numbers (we) want."