New but familiar face wins race in 26th

Considered by some in the political arena as Sen. Barack Obama’s protégé,William D. Burns defeated Democratic incumbent Elga Jefferies to become the new state representative for the 26th District. “I knew he had it in him,” said

“Will is a fighter, visionary and tonight he is a winner.” At press time, Burns, a former aide to Obama when the Democratic U.S. senator was in the Illinois General Assembly, was leading with 7,976 votes with Jefferies in fourth place with 2,817 votes. Challenger Kenny Johnson, an entrepreneur, trailed in second with 6,709. Phillip Jackson, executive director of the Black Star Project, had registered 4,344 votes, and Paul Chada was last with 2,223 votes.

“Kenny Johnson has called me to concede,” Burns said. “I want to thank all the candidates, who ran a good race but it’s clear the people of the 26th District are ready for a change.” Among those 26th District residents who voted for Burns was Melissa Smith.

“This young man has worked with the next president of the United States so I had to come meet him,” she said. “He could follow in Obama’s steps someday. And if that should happen I want Burns to know I supported him then and I will support him in his future endeavors.”

Burns also worked as chief of staff to state Senate President Emil Jones Jr. “Working with President Jones has taught me a lot and given me my greatest insight to state government,” added Burns. “I am very excited about the opportunity to return working in Springfield but as an elected official this time.” He said his plans as a state representative include improving education, creating more affordable housing, gun control, property tax relief and more economic development. Janet Sharp said she voted for him because he stands for gun control.

“My father was killed seven years ago by a gun so I hate guns but I love those who are fighting to keep them off the street like Burns,” she said.

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