Tom Kacich: Farren's stays out of political fray
At one Champaign restaurant, politics not on the menu
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner brought his "Shake Up Express" bus tour to Champaign last Friday, but not to Farren's Pub and Eatery.
Farren's, at 308 N. Randolph St., was listed on Rauner's campaign itinerary as the last of seven Champaign stops Friday.
But no one had checked with Farren's owner Carolyn Farren. She stopped Rauner from coming into the crowded restaurant.
"I introduced myself. He introduced himself and I said, 'I'm sorry but you're not going to be allowed to come in and campaign here. I had no advance knowledge of this event. It wasn't cleared with me,'" Farren recalled. "I said, 'It's not because you're a Republican or a Democrat. It has nothing to do with a political party. I just said that our restaurant is not a place for political campaigning.' He was nice."
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Farren said some people had showed up at the restaurant for the Rauner event.
"I just politely told them that the event was not going to take place because it was never cleared with me and I wouldn't have approved it if they had asked me," she said. "It's like I told my husband, 'If I'm out for dinner, especially in a place where I know everyone and I'm a regular, I don't want my dinner interrupted by someone campaigning.'"
Farren said she is politically independent and stays clear of politics in running her business.
"I've always turned down people from both parties who approached me about having fundraisers or private events. I just won't do it. I want to remain politically neutral," she said. "From a business standpoint I don't want to put off any Democrats, I don't want to put off any Republicans. I have tons of regulars from both parties and I love all of them.
"I just don't think for me — from a business standpoint — that it's a good idea for me to make any kind of political statement."
Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf said the campaign put the downtown restaurant on its list of stops Friday without checking with the owners.
"We had heard Farren's has great burgers and could be a good place to stop in. The owner said she'd prefer if we didn't come in, so we kept driving. No hard feelings on our end," Schrimpf said.
Rauner on "the Mansion"
Addressing an issue that is always a touchy one with Downstaters, Rauner says that if elected he will live in the 158-year-old Executive Mansion in Springfield.
"I am going to move to Springfield. I'm going to live in the mansion. My wife agreed. That was another hard sell, but we're going to live in the mansion and I'm going to work with the Legislature every day they're in session to drive legislation to get major bills passed," Rauner said Friday at Merry Ann's Diner.
Pat Quinn, however, said pretty much the same thing after he became governor following Rod Blagojevich's impeachment.
Records show, though, that Quinn spends most of his time at his Chicago home.
On Sunday the newly formed Champaign County Young Democrats made their first set of primary election endorsements in three county board races and in the three-way 13th Congressional District race.
The Young Democrats endorsed Ann Callis of Edwardsville in the 13th District over Champaign Democrats George Gollin and David Green. In County Board District 7 they chose former board chair C. Pius Weibel over current board chair Alan Kurtz. Shana Jo Harrison won the group's backing over incumbent Ralph Langenheim in District 8. And incumbent Lorraine Cowart was endorsed in District 11 over challenger Brent West.
No endorsement was made in County Board 6, where former County Auditor Tony Fabri is challenging incumbent Pattsi Petrie.
"There was not enough agreement for an endorsement one way or another. They both have the potential to be great candidates in the fall," said YD president Scott Redenbaugh,
A two-thirds majority was needed to get the endorsement from the eight executive board members voting, Redenbaugh said.
The group's endorsement doesn't yield any campaign funds, he said, but candidates "can publicly say the Young Democrats of Champaign County endorsed them. We'll be working toward helping those candidates in any way that they feel they can use us."
Redenbaugh said he didn't think the Young Democrats had significantly different interests or priorities than other Democrats.
"I don't know that there's a huge split. I work well with (party chairman) Al Klein on many things. There's not really a difference on that many issues," he said. "It's just a matter of recruiting people who are not currently involved with the party. I'll take the example of a 28-year-old barista at a cafe who was wearing a Barack Obama pin but has never been to a local Democratic event. It's just a matter of bringing people like her into local politics."
Redenbaugh said the group may make an endorsement in the 103rd House District race featuring Carol Ammons of Urbana and Sam Rosenberg of Champaign. They are seeking to replace retiring state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana.
"We're considering putting together a debate for state rep. That way we hope to get a full airing from both of the candidates before we take a position," he said.
Ammons has already met with the group. Rosenberg is scheduled to speak to them at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 29 at Crane Alley, 115 W. Main St., U. The event is open to the public.
Independent maps meeting
The effort to change Illinois Constitution this year with an independent legislative redistricting proposal will be the topic of a meeting next week at the Champaign Public Library.
The meeting, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Champaign County, will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the library, 200 W. Green St., C. Featured speakers will be Michael Kolenc, director of the Yes for Independent Maps campaign, and Patricia Landes of the League of Women Voters of Illinois.
There will be petitions on behalf of the constitutional amendment to sign or pick up. There also will be a notary to certify completed petitions.
Douglas County debates
The Douglas County Republican Women are sponsoring two debates between the candidates for circuit judge (Richard Broch and Lorna Geiler) and sheriff (Pete Buckley and Fred Galey) in Douglas County.
The first will follow the Republican Party's Lincoln Day Dinner at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11 at Yoder's Country Kitchen in Arthur. Tickets to the dinner are $20, but the forum is free. Reservations for the dinner can be made at 217-578-3298.
The second forum will be at 7 p.m. Monday, March 3 at the Douglas County Farm Service Building, 900 S. Washington, St., Tuscola.
Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette editor and columnist. His column appears on Wednesdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 3651-5221 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.