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More women welcome in Illinois Legislature

January 30, 2019

Party affiliation is the factor most taken into consideration when a breakdown of the membership ranks of the Illinois Legislature is conducted.

Such an assessment would show Democrats in firm control of the state House and Senate. But another group, men, have a similar advantage.

An Associated Press story published in the Daily Journal Monday shed light on the issue. While the number of women legislators has inched up to a total of 64, they still represent only 36 percent of the House and Senate members in Springfield.

That number falls short of the goal set by Illinois’ Anti-Harassment, Equality and Access panel. The panel aims to have 50 percent female representation in the Illinois General Assembly, according to a report the group released last year.

Hard and fast quotas are not necessarily advantageous, and voters should support who they believe to be the best candidate regardless of gender or race.

But it is fair to strive for balance, and in a state where the female population is slightly larger than the male population, a 64-36 percent split in favor of men in the Legislature seems out of whack.

This region has done its part for the better part of a decade as a woman, either Lisa Dugan, Kate Cloonen or current incumbent Lindsay Parkhurst, has held the local 79th House District seat since 2003. Two veteran members of the state Senate, Toi Hutchinson and Sue Rezin, also are women who represent various portions of the region.

Again, voters should not make decisions based solely on the gender of a candidate. But it’s good to see more women among the state’s lawmakers, and it would be even better to see that number rise in the coming years.

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