Editor’s note:This is the third in a series of political endorsements for the Nov. 5 election. The Daily Egyptian is endorsing only candidates who attended editorial board meetings, which are candidates for 58th district state senator, 115th district state representative and attorney general.

By Gus Bode

David Luechtefeld is a proven statesman who has led this district since being appointed in 1995, following Ralph Dunn’s retirement. He has run two tough campaigns in the past against the widely respected SIUC professor Barb Brown and through it all has remained a professional.

He fought fair and tough to get elected in the past and has become an effective state senator rallying for Southern Illinois, and he receives our endorsement.

Luechtefeld is running against former state Rep. Charles Wayne Goforth, who served in the House from 1985 until losing to Terry Deering in 1990. He was a Republican at the time, but then he decided to be a Democrat. We can appreciate a change in ideological leanings, but his party preference isn’t the only thing he seems to be unsure of.

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Goforth fumbled most of the questions we asked about education funding, higher education and the Southern Illinois economy, claiming that a single senator had little control of public policy. Perhaps this is true, but Goforth lacks the skills necessary to wheel and deal or stand on his own two feet in today’s generation of Illinois politics.

Goforth claims his main reason for running is because Luechtefeld has a track record of voting with leadership and not for the district.

That statement is simply not true. Luechtefeld went against the majority of Senate Republicans and voted against a bill that would have closed the Vienna Correctional Center and displaced a number of workers in the area. He also sponsored Empower Illinois legislation to begin churning the coalmines and the economy in Southern Illinois.

Luechtefeld knows how to be a good state senator, but he is not a career politician. He was a teacher and coach for more than 30 years, which has made him patient and humble and able to deflect the political power that too often goes to our leaders’ heads.

Luechtefeld is realistic. While he does not want to support a tax increase, he admitted that sometimes there is no other alternative and he supported an increase in the cigarette and casino taxes to help offset this year’s budget deficit. We would rather see someone that would be willing to break ranks with the party to support necessary funding than say no to a tax increase in fear of re-election retaliation.

Goforth said his No. 1 priority is children and senior citizens. But when it came to raising taxes, which would be a considerable increase when discussing reforms of the education and health care systems, he won’t support a raise to get the jobs done.

He also said he thinks higher education should be affordable, but couldn’t identify how, at a state level, he could ensure that universities were spending their budgets properly.

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Luechtefeld didn’t answer the higher education question much better – he too couldn’t give an example of how he would ensure affordable higher education, citing the budget and the new governor as two variables that would determine how he would proceed. He said he would consider line item budgeting as a possibility, a move we believe would be detrimental to public universities that know how to best use their resources.

But Luechtefeld’s position as the only career educator in the Senate tells us he is already ahead of the game in the education arena. Based on first hand experience, Luechtefeld knows that education reform is equally necessary and difficult to implement. He also recognized the budget problems are not going away soon and he anticipates next year’s hit to be even harder.

Goforth’s political glory days have passed. Plain and simple, Luechtefeld has the personality and education to be taken seriously by fellow colleagues and get things done for the University and surrounding area.

He enjoyed a winning track record as a basketball coach at Okawville High School where he served as a teacher, mentor and friend, and he is well on his way to creating one in the Illinois Senate.

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