State Rep. Al Riley won the Democratic primary in the 38th District Tuesday defeating challenger Toni Ashmore by more than 8,000 votes. Riley, a resident of Olympia Fields, earning 18,828 votes to Ashmore’s 10,770 with all precincts counted. Ashmore serves as Finance Contract And Economic Development Specialist for the Village of Matteson.
Riley said he feels good about winning, " Winning is better than the alternative. What the victory today, and certainly the margin of victory basically is, is a mandate for the things that I’ve done in this area, and certainly what I’ve done as the State Representative. I think what it says is, people trust in me, they like what I’m doing, they like the way that the planning for the future of the south suburbs is going, and they want me to continue doing that in Springfield for them. So, I’m very happy about the victory."
Riley commented on the mass transit bill that just passed and school funding reform. "School funding reform is very important. We got the mass transit bill passed. The mass transit bill is very important to this area. It is the linchpin of economic development because if you can’t get around, it doesn’t matter what business or industry wants to come here. They won’t locate here if there is no means of people getting around."
"The next thing is to give people a modicum of relief from the egregious property tax, the regressive property tax. It is inherently unequal, unfair, discriminatory for a child’s education to be based solely on where they live. That means that the kid in Phoenix, Illinois, or Harvey, will be relegated to a second-class education by virtue of not getting the kind of funding that a kid in the area where the assessed valuation of the property is much, much higher."
Riley expressed his support for House Bill 750, which moves the funding of education away from the property tax to a more stable base. "It mandates that all children move to what we call the EFAB level of education funding," he said.
"We’re still behind here in the south suburbs despite the fact that we have some of the number one schools in the state from District 162. We’re still 48th or 49th in terms of total school funding, and that should not be."
Toni Ashmore called Riley to concede the race. She said she looks forward to continued her work in economic development, "I will continue to do the best job that I can for not only the village of Matteson but for the region by and large. I believe that when we win, the region wins as well."
"I believe I ran a race that the constituents can be proud of." Ashmore commended her campaign staff, "We ran a very clean campaign. I’m proud of that. We chose to take the high road. I pray that the negative campaign is not going to be a precedent in the 38th District. Stick with the issues and continue to do the best job we can for the people, because at the end of the day, that’s what it is all about."
Ashmore said she is determined to advocate for issues she believes in, "I would like to have an opportunity to continue to work with not only our State Rep., but all of those in Springfield so that we can see a lot of productive things come to the 38th District. I’m very confident at this point because I know that I will be very visible, I will continue to hold not only my opponent, the current State Rep., accountable to what he says he will do, but I will continue to do what’s right as far as economic development, health care, education is concerned for all of the constituents of the 38th District."
Riley said he looks forward to returning to Springfield next week for the second half of the 95th General Assembly.