Pulse: Local leader will help choose preferred Jackson Jr. replacement candidate
December 2, 2012 7:00PM
Updated: January 4, 2013 6:06AM
When Democrats gather Dec. 15 in South Holland to pick a preferred candidate to replace former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., Scott Pyles will be there to represent Will County’s interests.
Pyles, who is chairman of the Will County Democratic Party, said he wants a candidate from the suburban area who understands Will County’s transportation and job needs. One thing Pyles doesn’t want to see is someone chosen who is “wrapped up in the city of Chicago.”
Will County represents only about 5 percent of the votes in the 2nd Congressional District, so it’s unlikely a local candidate will be chosen for party backing in the February primary, Pyles added.
“Obviously, I’d prefer to have a Will County candidate in there, but I don’t know if we have the horses.”
About 55 percent of the votes will come from suburban Cook County, 35 percent from Chicago and 5 percent each from Will and Kankakee counties.
This year’s Will County budget process went so smoothly, perhaps Will County officials should come up with a new title for Finance Director Paul Rafac.
How about “budget whisperer”? The low-key, apolitical Rafac, who has a bachelor’s degree in economics and an MBA in marketing from the University of Chicago, seems to have a knack for reining in spending and calming worried officials. What is his secret?
“I try to listen to what everybody wants and navigate the narrow ground between them where that thin filament of compromise is.”
Quiet in Joliet, too
It must be a sign of the times, because the 2013 Joliet budget is about to be approved, and it’s hardly been a topic of discussion. Budget approval is on the agenda for the city council’s Monday and Tuesday meetings.
“It’s a balanced budget,” said Councilman Michael Turk, head of the finance committee. “It satisfies our pension obligations. It doesn’t call for a tax increase. It’s a good budget.”
In recent years, budget meetings have been drawn out, with debates over tax increases, job cuts and proposed reductions in city services.
Times could change again for Joliet, however.
City officials on Friday wondered what kind of deal Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel cooked up when they announced they were close to an agreement for a Chicago casino.
Joliet budget makers have predicted a $5 million decline in casino taxes if a south suburban casino and slot machines at horse racing tracks are allowed.
“We’d just as soon have none,” Joliet Mayor Thomas Giarrante said, “but Chicago would be a compromise.”
Cindy Wojdyla Cain and Bob Okon contributed to Pulse.