Illinois’ largest teachers’ union is endorsing Democrat Mike Frerichs in the race for treasurer. Frerichs, a state senator from Champaign, says the treasurer helps invest in Illinois and its workforce, including management of college savings plans. He points out that his opponent, State Rep. Tom Cross (R-Oswego), is only running for treasurer because other options, including running for attorney general, appear less viable, while he –Frerichs – actually wants to be treasurer.
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“We have a long association with the senator,” said IEA spokesman Charlie McBarron, “and we’re very pleased to have the opportunity to support him. He has supported changes in revenue that would help our state and our education system, and that is why we are supporting the senator.”
Newspaper stories over the weekend portrayed both incumbent treasurer Dan Rutherford and Frerichs’ opponent Cross in an unflattering light, though Frerichs’ campaign jumped on only one of those stories: one in the Chicago Sun-Timesabout Rutherford’s office interns. The campaign was mute on a Chicago Tribunestory, putting Cross on the front page, about lawmakers helping constituents and/or donors navigate red tape to get a teaching certificate.
“What I said was inappropriate was in the treasurer’s office. When you clearly see a spike … in the number of paid internships,” Frerichs said, “this was clearly out of balance, and as soon as (Rutherford’s) campaign for governor ends, the number of paid interns drops dramatically.”
As for the teaching certificates, Frerichs said constituent service is an important part of a lawmaker’s job, and Cross’ role in helping people through the process, in Frerichs’ view, is not relevant to the treasurer’s race.
Statement by Cross on the Frerichs endorsement by the IEA:
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Illinois’ teachers. My mother is a teacher, my wife is a teacher and our daughter is studying to be a teacher, so I know the challenges they face and the sacrifices they make on a daily basis to educate our children. But, unlike my opponent, I do not believe that doubling down on failed policies and more job killing tax increases is the way to improve education or help our teachers. Illinois needs an honestly balanced budget so that we can properly fund education on a consistent basis and we need to make sure those funds make it into the classroom, where they are needed the most.”