Kelly, Albers vie for 15th District
by JASON MEREL
Democratic candidate Michael Kelly and Republican candidate Mark Albers have different goals as they vie for the job in the 15th Illinois House District that represents the Far Northwest Side of Chicago and several suburbs.
KELLY, who is the incumbent, defeated Democrat Michael Rabbitt in the primary election earlier this year. He was appointed as the district representative in November of last year after former state Representative John D’Amico announced that he would retire before his term ended for plumbers union job. Kelly has been a Chicago firefighter for 18 years, as well as a sports coach at Saint Edward School. He said he has lived in the district for his entire life.
ALBERS has a background in sales and product management, which he turned into a private consultant business. He said that his background in negotiation would help him represent the district in the general assembly.
Albers grew up on the South Side of Chicago but has been a Village of Morton Grove resident for more than 35 years. He has served as president of the Morton Grove Chamber of Commerce and the president of the Morton Grove Public Library Board of Trustees, as well as the Saint Martha Church Parish Council.
The candidates cited some differing concerns from constituents but both agreed that safety is on the top of voters’ minds.
Kelly said that the concerns he hears most often from constituents are about public safety, a woman’s right to choose and passage of the Workers’ Rights amendment which is proposed on the ballot.
The amendment would codify workers right to organize into the Illinois Constitution’s Bill of Rights and further preserve the right to collective bargaining for negotiating wages and hours, as well as working conditions.
“I have been to every precinct in the district knocking on doors and attending as many events as I can possibly get to,” Kelly said. “We have also sent out mail pieces.”
Kelly said he reached out to commanders at the Chicago Police Department’s 16th (Jefferson Park) and 17th (Albany Park) police districts, as well the chiefs of police for village of Niles and Morton Grove, to discuss their needs. Kelly said they spoke about access to more license plate readers in the district. He said he is working with Senator Ram Villivalam (D-8) and other officials to get those resources.
“I have already voted to codify a woman’s right to choose and I will continue to do so in my role as state representative,” Kelly said. “I fully support the Workers’ Rights Amendment and have spoken to the importance of voting Yes on the ballot.”
Kelly said he is also currently working on trailer bills to help clarify language in the SAFE-T Act. John D’Amico voted against the legislation prior to Kelly’s appointment.
“I will continue to work with the stakeholders on this as well as funding the mandates that are put in place,” Kelly said. “My predecessor voted againt it. The constituents in our district reached out in opposition and that is why I would have voted that way as well.”
Albers said that the concerns he hears most often from constituents are about taxes, safety and education.
“Illinois is a high tax state and taxes are going up, up and up,” Albers said. “People are tired of it.”
He said people want to see police funded and that he wants to “give them back the qualified immunity so police can do their job effectively” and to repeal the SAFE-T Act.
“If you can’t afford the bail, don’t do the crime,” Albers said. “I would ask the 102 state’s attorneys to help craft the language on this thing and take that away from the politicians.”