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State House: 3 vie for open seat in 35th

Frances Ann Hurley

Frances Ann Hurley

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Candidate questionnaires: Illinois House District 35, Democratic Primary
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Updated: April 1, 2012 8:08AM

How is it that a State House district that starts in Chi­cago and stretches deep into the city’s southwest suburbs is still dominated by a single Chicago ward?

Because it’s no ordinary ward.

It’s the 19th, the political powerhouse that includes Beverly and Mount Greenwood and is home to legions of firefighters, police officers, public union members and powerful and popular politicians including Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

The race in the remapped 35th District pits three Democrats against one another, with two splitting the endorsements from the major players in this race.

The winner will succeed Bill Cunningham, who was first elected in 2010 and is now running for state Senate. The district also covers Morgan Park, Merrionette Park, Worth, Alsip, half of Palos Heights, Palos Park and Orland Park and parts of Orland Hills. There are no Republican candidates in the March 20 primary. Two years ago, when the district covered slightly more of the 19th Ward than it does now, about 65 percent of the total votes cast were from that ward.

Frances Ann Hurley, who is 51 and lives in Mount Greenwood Heights, has worked for the city since 1994, mostly in the 19th Ward aldermanic office as an office manager, community liaison and, since 2011, as a constituent service coordinator.

She was slated by the powerful 19th Ward Democratic Organization and many of its related groups and people are lining up behind Hurley: Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th); Dart; Rep. Cunningham, and Sen. Edward Maloney. Hurley, who is active in several community groups, also is endorsed by Representatives Kelly Burke and Monique Davis; the mayors of Palos Park and Alsip; the Palos and Worth Township Democratic organizations; the Chicago Police union, the Chicago Teachers Union; the Illinois Federation of Teachers; the Illinois Retailers Association, and a few smaller unions.

The other two candidates, both of whom cast themselves as outsiders, aren’t conceding anything to Hurley.

Anthony Martin is a 23-year veteran Chicago Fire Department lieutenant who has worked the last five years as an elected trustee of the city firefighters pension fund. The 46-year-old Mount Greenwood resident is running hard on preserving pensions for current public employees. He has racked up most of the non-teacher union endorsements, including the Chicago Firefighters; Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois; the Illinois Police Benevolent & Protective Association; AFSCME; the CTA rail operators union, and a dozen other unions.

Frank and to the point, Martin is running on this slogan: “Illinois is not broken, it needs to be managed better.”

Andrew Byrne Hodorowicz, 52, is a mortgage banker who has worked as the chief financial officer at the Hawthorne Race Course, as assistant financial officer for the Illinois Racing Board and as an auditor for the auditor general of Illinois.

Hodorowicz is running as an independent, saying, “I am not a child of the Illinois political system.”

He lives in Palos Heights but grew up on the Southwest Side and his family is still active with the 19th Ward Democratic Organization.

Hodorowicz claims to be the only candidate with the financial skills to serve as state rep.

“That is the first compelling reason why I’m running,” Hodorowicz told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I don’t see any one of those candidates qualified for what they are about to get into in Springfield.”

Hodorowicz criticized Martin for his management of the firefighters pension fund, which at 32.4 percent funded ratio in the 2010 fiscal year is worse off than other distressed public pensions and has declined from a 58 percent funded ratio in fiscal year 2002.

In response, Martin, who has been on the pension board 10 years and is now the secretary, said the fund has exceeded its expected investment performance over the last 25 years. The fund was predicted to go bankrupt in 2013, Martin said. The fund’s current position, he said, “is a positive reflection of how hard our board has worked.”

Both Hodorowicz and Martin are critical of Hurley, saying she doesn’t have the financial expertise to run for state representative, and they may be onto something. On her Sun-Times questionnaire, Hurley displayed a mastery of the issues, but she didn’t appear to have a good grasp of the issues during an interview with the Sun-Times Editorial Board.

In her interview, Hurley emphasized her experience connecting residents with services. She is running, she told the Sun-Times, “because I’ve seen the good government can provide citizens.”

As a single mother who worked two jobs to support her family, Hurley says she appreciates the struggles of working families, noting how hard last year’s state income tax increase hit her family and others like hers.

On the issues, all three are opposed to changing pensions for current public employees. Hurley and Hodorowicz want the state’s temporary income tax increase to expire in 2014 as planned. Martin wrote in his questionnaire that he wants a “thorough assessment” before making any decision. During his Sun-Times interview, he said that the state needs the revenue.

Martin and Hodorowicz are opposed to gay marriage; Hurley says she is “leaning toward yes for gay marriage.”

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