10th District State Senator Robert Martwick being challenged in Democratic primary by Chicago police detective Erin Jones
by BRIAN NADIG
Chicago police detective Erin Jones is challenging incumbent state Senator Robert Martwick in the Illinois 10th Senate District race in the June 28 Democratic primary.
In 2018 Jones was a 39th Ward Republican precinct captain, but she maintains that she is a lifelong Democrat and has never taken a Republican ballot in a primary. She said that at the time she worked with the Northwest Side GOP Club because it was willing to listen to her after she said a political ally of Martwick made a false accusation against her and dozens of other government workers.
Jones was one of dozens of city workers who then-45th Ward alderman John Arena had complaints filed against for allegedly making “racially charged” comments on social media about the controversial mixed-income housing development at 5150 N. Northwest Hwy. in Jefferson Park. Arena’s office kept a spreadsheet with dozens of names, including current and former government workers such as retired school teachers, who he claimed made offensive comments about the proposal.
“I’ve never been politically engaged until the stuff with Arena happened,” said Jones, an 18-year veteran of the police force. “I was getting death threats, and (the club) was willing to listen. … I reached out to my own party, … and they would not listen.” She added that she is no longer a precinct captain.
Jones said that that she and many others have never been formally served with the complaint but that it remains on her record, with no way to fight the allegation, and that its presence in her personnel file could prevent her from getting a job in another police department or obtaining the retirement credentials needed for private security jobs.
“I’ve been denied my due process,” Jones said.
Martwick was appointed senator in 2019 after Arena, who at the time was the 45th Ward committeeperson, convinced at least one other committeeperson to switch his support to Martwick, giving Martwick the edge in the weighted vote selection process, Jones said. “Otherwise (then-41st Ward committeeperson) Tim Heneghan is the senator,” she said. The vacancy had been created when John Mulroe left the Senate to become a judge.
Martwick said that he was not involved with Arena’s decision to file the complaints and that to him Jones sounds like a Republican. He provided a Facebook posting in which Jones in 2020 called for her union to support two local Republican candidates, including one who later reposted a message that called the Democratic Party a “worst enemy” than China, North Korea and Russia.
“Hard to say you’re a lifelong Democrat when you support someone with views like (that),” Martwick said.
Jones responded that there is too much labeling in politics and that as senator her goal would be to listen to both sides and focus on legislation that helps families.
Martwick said that Jones is similar to previous challengers he faced in both primary and general elections for a house or senate seat.
“Every single opponent I’ve had has been a Republican … and a police officer,” Martwick said. He added, “She can run, but she can’t vote for herself … because (of the boundary changes).”
Martwick is referring to the remapping of the 10th District, where Jones’ home in north Gladstone Park is now in the 8th District. Because of the remapping is new, Jones is allowed to run for the 10th District seat even though she cannot vote in the race. Jones would have to move into the district if she were to win.
Jones said that she found it unusual that the map makers drew what she described as a “triangle” around her house and moved her block and a couple adjacent blocks from the 10th to the 8th District. She said that an initial map kept her in the 10th District but that her house was later taken out of the district “by 50 feet” after word got out that the Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge 7 was recruiting her to run for office.
Jones said that she will fight for legislation that prioritizes safety. “A lot of Democrats do support the police,”she said.
She added that she opposes legislation that raises the threshold for felony retail theft from $300 to $2,000, would work to expand school choice by raising the income threshold on the tax-credit scholarship policy and would support legislation that would allow a recall vote for any elected official.
Martwick said that during his time as a legislator he has led the fight for pension reform that protects government workers and helps make sure massive tax hikes will not be needed due to pension debt problems.
“I’ve worked to provide middle-class tax relief, (and) I’ve work to expand collective bargaining rights, including for police officers,” Martwick said. He added that he is especially proud of his efforts to create an elected school board in Chicago, giving taxpayers more control over who sets policies for the school system and creates the budget for Chicago Public Schools.
Martwick said that he also supports legislation that would increase the minimum annuity for the widows of Chicago firefighters and police officers who die in the line of duty.
Martwick served in the House, representing the 19th District, from 2013 to 2019, when he was appointed senator. He then won the 2020 senate race, defeating Daniel O’Toole in the primary and Anthony Beckman in the general election. Martwick, a lawyer, also serves as the 38th Ward Democratic committeeperson.
Jones said that Martwick is part of the “political elite” and that voters are looking for change.
Martwick filed his nominating petition with the state election board on Monday, March 7. Jones said that she will file by the Monday, March 14, deadline.
No Republican candidate has announced for the 10th District senate seat. If no one runs in the Republican primary, the party can slate its own candidate, who would then be eligible for the Nov. 8 ballot.