The nays | Bleader

Friday, January 9, 2009

The nays

Posted By on 01.09.09 at 05:25 PM

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State reps Milton Patterson and Elga Jeffries have something in common besides an unwillingness to vote for impeaching the governor: neither has to face voters again.

Patterson is retiring after his current term ends--which, for all practical purposes, is today--and Jeffries lost her bid for re-election last year.

As they explained their decisions to the Trib:

"Patterson said he wasn't comfortable with voting 'yes' on impeachment. 'I think the committee did an excellent job in the report, it was just there was not enough for me to feel comfortable with a decision to do that.... I did not feel comfortable voting based upon what I heard and read, simple as that.' ...

"Rep. Elga Jefferies, a South Side Democrat, cast the sole 'present' vote because, she said, a 'lot of this process was personal.' ... Jefferies, whose term ends next week, said she suffered from 'personal vendettas' in a rough primary campaign that she lost. 'I was torn between political and personal,' Jefferies said."

Patterson, a well-liked former Democratic committeeman of the 17th Ward, suffered a stroke a couple of years ago and chose not to run for re-election last year. According to state records, his campaign fund is about $138,695 in arrears thanks to loans it took out from the ward organization and Patterson's personal funds. He'll be replaced next week by Andre Thapedi, an attorney who ran for the seat unopposed: after he challenged the ballot petitions of at four foes before last February's primary, they all withdrew or were tossed off the ballot. 

Jeffries polled just 12 percent of the votes against four challengers in last year's primaries. Winner Will Burns, a former aide to outgoing state senate president Emil Jones, said Jeffries must have been referring to one of her other opponents. "When I ran for state representative, I ran on the issues," he said. "We never did a negative piece on Elga and we didn’t attack Elga. So when she says she’s talking about negative vendettas, she must be talking about somebody else."

Burns said he doesn't doubt that Jeffries had some good reason for voting "present." "I never question a legislator’s motives. If a legislator says she’s voting her conscience, I take her at her word. That said, if I had been in there, I would have voted yes."

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