Kelly Burke

Kelly Burke

Burke wins seventh term in Illinois House

By Bob Bong

State Rep. Kelly Burke (D-36th), of Evergreen Park, easily won election to her seventh term in the General Assembly Tuesday.

Burke, who is also mayor of Evergreen Park, easily beat back Republican challenger David Sheppard, the police chief of Robbins. It was her first contested race since 2012.

Complete but unofficial results showed her with 20, 317 votes (61 percent) to 12,924 (39 percent) for Sheppard. Vote totals will not become official until they are ratified in the coming weeks.

Both were seeking to represent the newly drawn 36th District, which stretches roughly from Ashland Avenue in Chicago, west to Will-Cook Road, meandering from 83rd Street to 123rd Street. In addition to parts of Beverly and other Chicago neighborhoods, the boundaries encompass all or parts of Evergreen Park, Oak Lawn, Chicago Ridge, Worth, Palos Hills, Palos Park and Willow Springs.

In addition to being a state representative for 12 years, Burke has been mayor of Evergreen Park since being elected in May 2021. Previously, she was a trustee in the village she has lived in for 27 years, and a member and president of the local library board. She also was an attorney with the Evergreen Park-based firm of Odelson & Sterk. Burke earned a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a law degree from the John Marshall Law School.

Sheppard, a Navy veteran, also lives in Evergreen Park. He has been police chief of the village of Robbins since October 2021. He previously had been a detective with the Merrionette Park Police Department for two years, and an investigator with the Cook County Sheriff’s Department from 1995 to 2021.

Both candidates were critical of the controversial SAFE-T Act, particularly the elimination of cash bail in most cases, which is due to go into effect in January. Burke voted against it in 2021, and has said some changes could be made. She and Sheppard said some parts of it are good, including the requirement that all police departments use body cameras by 2025.

Burke, the assistant majority leader in the House, said improving the economic situation for everyone is her goal in Springfield. In her campaign literature, she points to her votes to eliminate the grocery tax, suspend the gas tax and get more property tax rebates for residents.

She also said she supports the Rebuild Illinois program to invest $20 million infrastructure improvements in the 36th District and much more statewide.

Other priorities she listed include expansion of job training, and cracking down on
“corporate price-gouging.

Burke also has pointed out that the financial situation in Illinois has improved considerably in recent years, going from a $16 billion deficit in the general fund in 2017, to a budget surplus in 2021.

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