Double Trouble for Don
The Zephyr, Galesburg, August 27, 2009
by Mike Kroll
Republican State Representative Don Moffitt has represented the Galesburg area in Springfield since 1993 and he will presumably be seeking reelection in 2010. But, unlike his 2008 race, this time he will face a Democratic opponent. Elizabeth Double of Galva is a former elementary school teacher who describes herself as “a working woman with a regular life” and a desire to represent the 74th district.
She made the first public announcement of her candidacy in Galesburg at the Knox County Democrats’ Ice Cream Social August 20th. “I am a representative of the 74th District already. I am a working woman with a regular life. I understand the struggles of the people who live here. I struggle right along side them. However, I am bright, well-educated and well-read and have a driving passion to improve everyone’s life in this district. My education, creativity and life experience makes me an attractive candidate for State Representative.”
“When I came to Illinois as a college student and newlywed, I took one look around and said “ Oh my goodness you can see so much sky.” I grew up in Georgia where the sky is hidden by hills and pine trees. I fell in love with central Illinois as we drove onto the campus of the University of Illinois in Urbana. The landscape was so different and beautiful and the people were so honest and giving. I was forced to leave Illinois when my first husband got a job in Alabama but we came back the first chance we got. After starting my master’s degree at U of I, I got a job in Galva and my husband had an opportunity to teach at Augustana. We moved here in August of 1999 and have been in Galva ever since. “
Asked what she sees as Illinois’ top priority in these trying economic times and Double responds quickly: “The education of our students should be one of the highest priorities. With our high school drop out rate topping 30 percent, funding for retention programs has to take priority. When a state is not successful educating its residents, the best and brightest go elsewhere, taking their children, their civic participation, their taxes and their votes with them. If elected, I know that my priorities will be educational funding, more access to higher education and industrial and technological expansion to create jobs for the graduates of my district and my state.”
I asked her about the economic plight of many residents in western Illinois. “Our population will continue to decline if people believe there is no hope of a future here. Frustrated or disheartened people move away or they have fewer children. Many that leave are not replaced. Jobs, affordable housing, lifestyle amenities and a vibrant arts and entertainment community are what help people to stay in an area.”
“We have lost major manufacturing jobs and they have not been replaced. Farming has declined as many small family farms cease to exist. Unfortunately service industries will not offer enough sustainable opportunities for our workers. We need to make things. We need to manufacture products people want. We need to make them in competition with foreign companies and we need to make them with American workers. Profit cannot be the only deciding factor to locate a business in West Central Illinois.”
“Farmers need more than corn and soybeans to sustain them. Diversity in crop production will provide more farming opportunities and reasonably priced land will encourage new farming endeavors.”
“Beautification projects, updating our parks and recreation, and building green housing will provide even more jobs. Wind farms and ethanol plants can provide sustainable energy and ongoing job opportunities. Jobs create funding as people spend more and invest in their communities. We need to provide artists and musicians opportunities to work and perform. We need to increase parental participation in schools so the family and the school becomes a viable partnership in educating our young people. If we believe in hope, then hope will float and our communities will begin not only to survive, but thrive.”
I asked Double to comment on the plight of downstate public school systems struggling with declining enrollments that challenge the economic sustainability of small town schools and forcing round after round of consolidation.
“A child in Illinois should not be denied educational opportunity based on where the family lives. A town’s identity is often found in its school’s identity. The basketball games on Friday nights are the social highlight of the week. We do not need to lose that.”
“Many of the suburban schools are known more for excellent education and opportunities. We need to provide the same excellent education and opportunities to downstate schools as well. Property taxes cannot continue to be a major source of school funding because of the huge disparity in property values. A child in Illinois should not be denied educational opportunity based on geographic location.”
“The state school funding formula needs to be re-evaluated and I would propose a county system. We should continue local elementary schools in each community and develop county-wide high schools. High schools must have enough enrollment to afford competitive opportunities to secondary students while still preserving community identity in the primary schools. County-wide budgets with fair representation on school boards will relieve smaller communities of the burden of top-heavy administrative costs and the students will benefit from more class offerings and more equalized funding regardless of location and property tax values.”
Finally I asked Double why the voters of this district should replace their longtime incumbent representative with a little-known newcomer like her.
“Every incumbent was originally a little known newcomer like myself. Our people want a decisive, energetic and hardworking representative. I intend to be just that. I don’t pretend to know all of the answers to the problems facing Illinois, but I do know that I can do the job if I get the opportunity. Change can only happen with a catalyst. If we want things to change in our district, we need new fresh ideas and someone who can implement them. I believe I am that person and would appreciate the support of the people of the 74th District.”