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Sowing seeds of compromise

The second class of Edgar Fellows contains two officials with links to the Sauk Valley. We encourage state Sens. Darin LaHood and Daniel Biss to get the most out of this innovative leadership training program.

Published: Thursday, July 11, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

Have Illinois’ current leaders lost the ability to forge compromises to solve the state’s difficult problems?

Most people would respond with a resounding “yes.”

The concealed-carry gun compromise is an exception to the rule that solutions to Illinois’ financial woes continue to elude state representatives, senators and the governor. A prime example is the unsolved pension reform mess.

With the goal of improving the abilities of emerging leaders to work together for the public good, former Gov. Jim Edgar has announced his second class of Edgar Fellows. The initiative, operating in conjunction with the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs, named 40 Edgar Fellows – young leaders in government, business, and non-profit agencies.

Last year, the closest Edgar Fellow to the Sauk Valley hailed from Moline.

This year, several Edgar Fellows have closer connections to our region..

State Sen. Darin LaHood, a Dunlap Republican, represents the 37th Senate district, which in the Sauk Valley includes Harmon, Walnut, Ohio, and part of Amboy.

State Sen. Daniel Biss, an Evanston Democrat, has connections with Lee County through the Illinois Farm Bureau’s Adopt-A-Legislator program. Biss toured farms and ag-related industries in the Lee and Ogle county region 2 years ago.

Among the other 38 Edgar Fellows are six state representatives and one state senator. They join last year’s 10 state representatives and two state senators who participated, meaning that 22 legislators (12 percent of the Illinois General Assembly) will have gone through the program by the time this year’s 4-day session concludes Aug. 7.

But it’s a start, and a noble one, at that.

Edgar told the story about how, as a young aide to W. Russell Arrington, then the Senate Republican leader, he had urged a distraught Arrington to look at the political bright side of the failure of a transportation bill.

Arrington replied: “That’s not the point, Jim. We’re here to solve problems, and we didn’t solve the problem.”

Oh, that today’s elected officials could adopt a similar mindset, put down their political posturing and provincialism, and consistently work together for the good of all Illinoisans.

We encourage Sens. LaHood and Biss to get the most out of this leadership training program.

We urge emerging leaders across the Sauk Valley to consider applying to participate next year.

And we call on today’s old guard leaders to put aside their differences, tackle today’s problems with renewed vigor, and do a better job for the people they serve.

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