Political news


U.S. Illinois 17th District Representative Cheri Bustos announced on Friday that she will not seek a sixth term in Congress. The Democrat has represented her northwestern Illinois district, which includes the Quad Cities area, Peoria and Rockford, since 2013, the first woman to do so.  Her current term, her fifth, ends in January of 2023. 

In a release announcing her decision,  Bustos stated:

Yvonne Boose

More than a dozen northern Illinois residents voiced their concerns at a redistricting public hearing Friday  in Aurora.

Redistricting hearings are taking place across the state. State representatives Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora, and Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, hosted the meeting.

Sarah Jesmer

With all precincts reporting, unofficial totals show Cohen Barnes has won the election to be the next mayor of DeKalb. He received 2,391 votes to claim 62% of the votes against challenger Carolyn Morris. Barnes and Morris met several times in forums to outline their vision for DeKalb, including a forum hosted by WNIJ, the League of Women Voters of DeKalb County, and the DeKalb Public Library.

Election Day for DeKalb is coming up on April 6. Recently the two mayoral candidates took time to share their personal journeys with the community.   

The “Getting to Know You” conversations took place at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church and were streamed on Facebook Live for both Alderman Carolyn Morris and local businessman Cohen Barnes.  

DeKalb Mayoral Candidates Take Part In Front Yard Forum

Mar 15, 2021
Chase Cavanaugh

The two candidates for DeKalb mayor took part in a neighborhood forum Sunday. 

About a dozen Kensington Pointe residents gathered on a chilly day to hear from candidates Carolyn Morris and Cohen Barnes. They gathered on the front lawn of the Rev. Marty Marks, a pastor for Immanuel Lutheran Church. Marks said he personally knows both candidates and wanted to create an event that focused on commonalities. He said the results speak for themselves.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Rockford voters overwhelmingly decided to continue to fund their road improvements with a one-percent sales tax.

79% of voters said yes to the city’s road tax referendum in Tuesday’s primary election. Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara thanked voters for investing in their infrastructure. The sales tax has been in place since 2007, when voters decided to move from funding their road improvements with a city sticker.

City of DeKalb

A former DeKalb mayor and long-time community activist died Sunday. Bessie Chronopoulos was 72. 

She was a teacher in Genoa-Kingston schools for more than 35 years and served on DeKalb City Council for decades before she was elected mayor in 1997. After serving one term, Chronopoulos stayed involved in politics as a fixture at city council meetings, a prolific author of “letters to the editor,” and as a voting rights advocate.  

Rockford Aldermanic Candidates Speak At Virtual Forum

Feb 5, 2021
City of Rockford

Nine candidates for Rockford alderman recently spoke at a local forum in advance of the state primaries later this month.

The forum was hosted by Live Free Rockford. It featured a diverse group from different ward elections. Though many didn’t have their opponents present, they spoke at length about their priorities for the office.

A man running for DeKalb Township Supervisor is challenging a decision by the township to not certify him for the ballot.

Jim Luebke filed a Statement of Economic Interest before the designated deadline, but the accompanying receipt of his filing was not in his packet by that date. Luebke said Township Clerk Lynne Kunde initially approved his candidacy after verifying the Statement was submitted on time.

Connie Kuntz

Women's "march circles" are taking place across the country on Saturday. Women's March Rockford is participating, too. This year, because of the pandemic, they are hosting a gathering -- not a march -- at the Women's Suffrage Centennial Sculpture. The event is in support of women's rights. Organizer Mel Champion said women and those who support women are invited to attend the goal-setting event.

"They're just going to write on ribbons, or postcard, what their intentions are for this year to advocate for women, and how they plan on achieving that goal," said Champion.

U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood Votes To Impeach Trump

Jan 13, 2021

Illinois 14th District Congresswoman Lauren Underwood said she was at the Capitol when it was breached. She called the deadly attack "an infuriating and un-American disgrace." She said President Donald Trump incited the insurrection and directed violence towards the United States Congress, a separate but equal branch of government. 

"There should be no historical sanctuary for those who ignited the fire," Underwood said.

The House of Representatives approved a symbolic resolution urging Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment against President Trump, after the president's No. 2 has expressed that he would not exercise that option. The move comes nearly a week after violent pro-Trump extremists breached the U.S. Capitol.

The vote was mostly along party lines, 223-205, with just one Republican, Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, joining Democrats to vote for the measure.

Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-16) says he will vote in favor of impeaching President Donald Trump. He was among the first to comment on Tuesday's moves in Congress to remove the President from office, sending out a news release just as discussions got underway in the House of Representatives. 

Rock Valley College ATC Financing Approved

Dec 16, 2020
Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco

The Rock Valley College Board of Trustees approved an increase in the budget for its new Belvidere campus amid opposition from several Rockford community leaders. 



Durbin Urges Passage Of COVID-19 Relief Package

Dec 4, 2020

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said Congress needs to pass a COVID-19 emergency relief package now. He said the legislation is substantial and includes funds to support various measures. 

“We have a $908 billion program that can make a significant difference in the lives of many Americans and save many American businesses that are teetering on the brink of failure and bankruptcy.”

But Durbin said passage of such a bill remains uncertain.

Rockford Mayor Announces Reelection Bid

Nov 19, 2020
City of Rockford

The mayor of Rockford is seeking reelection in 2021.

Mayor Tom McNamara made the announcement this week, touting successes such as growth downtown, in the health care industry, and at Chicago Rockford International Airport. A central campaign message is his desire to make further improvements in those areas.

“We have had great progress these last four years and we want to build on that progress," he said. "We know there is so much more work to be done.”

Underwood Wins 14th

Nov 12, 2020

The Associated Press on Thursday called the race for the seat in Illinois' 14th Congressional District for incumbent Democrat Lauren Underwood. She defeated Republican Illinois state senator Jim Oberweis. 

In response to the AP call, Underwood issued the following statement: "I am honored to be reelected to represent Illinois' beautiful 14th District in Congress. This was a tough race under some very difficult circumstances, and I want to say thank you to my supporters, the voters, and our elections officials for their diligent work."    

NIU Faculty Weigh In On Post-Election Ponderings

Nov 6, 2020
Northern Illinois University

Election Day may be over, but there is plenty to talk about before the inauguration. 

Voters are still glued to their screens to find out who will lead the nation…and what the final vote has to say about how a politically divided country will move forward.

That’s behind the timing of a virtual panel Thursday night. Experts from Northern Illinois University’s colleges of Law and Political Science took questions from the community about different election-related subjects. 

One of the closest races is in Illinois’ 14th Congressional District. Incumbent Democrat Lauren Underwood faces challenger Republican Jim Oberweis.

On Wednesday, the Oberweis campaign issued a statement declaring victory. But in a virtual news conference on Thursday afternoon, Underwood said that the race is not over and that there are thousands of vote-by-mail ballots outstanding.


This year’s first presidential debate created lots of buzz but it also birthed a new idea. A Boston musician solicited performers across the country to play the stress away as voters wait in line this Election Day. 

Mike Block is the director of Play For The Vote, an organization designed to increase voter turnout. Block is also a composer, singer and cello player. He said the morning after the debate he found himself practicing his craft.  

Pixabay user ArtsyBeeKids

A Northern Illinois University professor says presidential political polls are likely to be more accurate this year than in 2016. 

Political Science professor April Clark said there were several complicating factors in 2016. These included a greater percentage of nonpartisan voters to consider and the timing of their votes.

“In 2016, we had a large percentage of late deciders that broke for Trump, but we don’t have that same pool of undecideds that can break for him," she said. "So the chances of him turning this around are diminishing.” 

Meg Kelly/NPR

President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden are holding a final debate Thursday in Nashville, with Kristen Welker of NBC News moderating. After a haphazard first debate, and a canceled second one, this final debate has new rules established by the Commission on Presidential Debates. Follow live updates and analysis.


Meg Kelly/NPR

President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden are holding a final debate Thursday in Nashville, with Kristen Welker of NBC News moderating. After a haphazard first debate, and a canceled second one, this final debate has new rules established by the Commission on Presidential Debates. Follow updates and fact checks on NPR.org, too.


Four Downstate Lawmakers Launch 'Restore Illinois Tour'

Oct 20, 2020

A group of lawmakers is traveling around the state this week on what they are calling the “Restore Illinois” tour. 

The group consists of four Republican lawmakers; Darren Bailey, Chris Miller, Blaine Wilhour, and Brad Halbrook. Bailey said the group wants to address various longstanding problems, which they believe come from “unethical behavior” and “bad rule” by the Illinois government.

“We’re just sick and tired of the way Illinois is doing business," he said. "We want to get the word out. We want to let people know that there is hope for Illinois.” 

Peter Medlin

Early voting is on the rise in northern Illinois as new voting stations have been announced. Kane County has expanded early voting locations to 25, including two “Votemobiles.” DuPage County has increased voting to 18 sites.   


With Election Day weeks away, top Republican donors have funneled more than $2.5 million to unseat one of four Democratic justices on the Illinois Supreme Court, and potentially seize control from the court’s Democratic majority, which has lasted since 1964.


An independent candidate is looking to gather support in the race for the Illinois 16th Congressional District. 

Roy Jones is a write-in candidate who describes himself as post-partisan. He said running outside the major parties allows him to suggest things they would brush aside.

Pixabay user Tumisu

The effects of climate change are becoming more and more apparent. Experts suggest there is a narrow window in which to act before they get worse.

Various weather events have highlighted the effects of climate change in the public eye. These include wildfires, hurricanes, and heavy rain. Ross Powell is a professor emeritus of sedimentology and climate change at Northern Illinois University. He’s noticed significant ice loss during his research in the Arctic. He said the U.S. could quickly heat up if nothing is done to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Illinois taxes and the future of nuclear power are major issues in two northern Illinois legislative races. 

These topics were part of the discussion at a recent League of Women Voters virtual forum in DeKalb. The most prominent candidates were those competing in the race for the 70th and 90th Districts of the Illinois House of Representatives.

Watch Live: Vice Presidential Debate

Oct 7, 2020
Meg Kelly/NPR

Vice President Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris are debating in Salt Lake City. Their only face-off of the 2020 campaign comes with a wave of uncertainty with President Trump undergoing treatment for COVID-19. Follow live updates and fact-checks on the debate.