EDGEBROOK — One of the leaders of the group that formed to protest the racket made by planes using new east-west runways at O'Hare Airport said Monday he would challenge state Rep. John D'Amico's bid for re-election.
Jac Charlier co-founded the Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition and helped launch an effort to turn an Edgebrook underpass that had become an eyesore into a landmark depicting the area's history and lush vegetation.
Charlier blasted D'Amico, who is the nephew of Ald. Margaret Laurino (39th), as a "career politician" who helped create the fiscal crisis now engulfing the state and city. Charlier said he would run in the Democratic primary as an independent Democrat.
D'Amico "is a press-release politician with a strategy of saying little and doing even less," Charlier said. "The voters of the 15th District deserve leadership and in his 12 years as a failed legislator he hasn't provided it.”
D'Amico, who has represented Edgebrook, Sauganash, Mayfair and the Northwest Suburbs in the Illinois House since 2004, said he was confident that his record would earn him the Democratic nomination and another term in Springfield representing the district.
"I'm very proud of what I've accomplished," D'Amico said, citing his work on bills that prohibit drivers from using hand-held electronic devices and increasing supervision of teen drivers. "I have saved people's lives."
Charlier, who served as a captain in the Army and was a member of the National Guard for 11 years, said his record of 25 years of community-organizing work would inform his role as a state representative. Charlier works as a consultant to governments across the country trying to reduce crime.
"Too many politicians only give lip service to working side-by-side with citizens," Charlier said. "I've lived it every day for over two decades.”
Charlier said he has been frustrated on D'Amico's "inaction" on efforts to reduce O'Hare jet noise.
But D'Amico was among several lawmakers who forged an agreement that forced local aviation officials to sit down with Charlier and other coalition members.
D'Amico said he planned to campaign door-to-door and, if re-elected, would continue to work to "protect the middle class."
State lawmakers have yet to adopt a spending plan for next year, with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner at loggerheads with the Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, over a host of issues, including business regulations, tax rates and pension funding.
D'Amico acknowledged that the state's poor financial health — and the political gridlock — made it a tough year to run for re-election as an incumbent.
"Everyone is frustrated," D'Amico said. "That's why I'm not accepting a paycheck until everything is resolved."
Laurino, D'Amico's aunt, has represented the 39th Ward — which includes much of the 15th District — since 1994, when she was appointed by former Mayor Richard M. Daley to replace her father.
Anthony Laurino, first elected alderman in 1965, resigned after being indicted as part of a ghost payrolling investigation.
"It is time to reclaim democracy on the Northwest Side," Charlier said. "I don't want my kids to grow up under the rule of one family as I have."
D'Amico is the second member of the Laurino family to be challenged by a member of the Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition. Robert Murphy, a leader of the group, unsuccessfully tried to unseat Laurino in February, falling 360 votes short of forcing a runoff.
Earlier this month, Murphy announced he would run for the unpaid position of 39th Ward Democratic committeeman now held by Randy Barnette, Laurino's husband.
Committeemen, elected to four year terms, are charged with overseeing voter registration, increasing voter turnout and making sure elections run smoothly.
The Democratic primary for state and local offices will take place in March.
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