Quinn pledges to build 3rd Chicago area airport

March 19, 2009 5:05:22 PM PDT
Governor Pat Quinn's budget proposal got most of the attention, but during Wednesday's address in Springfield he made another major announcement. He pledged to build a third Chicago area airport in the south suburbs.Whether intended or not, it was another political move by Quinn who told ABC7 on Wednesday that he will run for a full term next year.

It just so happens that any support for the controversial airport plays well in the south suburbs with its mother load of Democratic voters.

The governor surprised most of the south suburban lawmakers in the chamber on Wednesday when he announced that in spite of the state's budget difficulties his administration had set aside $1 million to buy more land near Peotone to rejuvenate the stalled third airport project.

"We will build a third airport in the south suburbs of chicago. And we'll build it as fast as humanly possible," said Gov. Quinn.

The politics of Quinn's offer is not lost in south surburban Thornton Township, the area with more Democratic voters than any other ward or political subdivision in Cook County. Elected officials in the economically-challenged region are depending on the development of a third airport to create thousands of new businesses and jobs in the southland.

"It affects the rail industry. It would affect all the transportation industry, both during the construction as well as after the construction," said Frank Zucarelli, Thornton Township supervisor.

South suburban state representative David Miller said Gov. Quinn's income tax increase plan that would exempt families of four making less than $60,000 year is another plus for Quinn.

"The personal income tax part of what he's saying is the individual deductions are greater, which is very attractive for people in my district," said Rep. David Miller, (D) South Suburbs.

The Peotone project ran aground because ousted Governor Rod Blagojevich stopped land acquisition. Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., a longtime third airport supporter, publicly suspected state funding stopped because he and others would not allow Blagojevich to control appointments to the airport commission. The allegation reportedly is part of an ongoing federal investigation.

Quinn, who told ABC7 he will run for election to a full term next year, scored points with Zucarelli, who doubles as the township's Democratic committeeman, holding the most weight of any committee member in Cook County.

"This governor is already hitting the ground running and he's trying to do something good for our community. And we really applaud that," said Zucarelli.

During his nearly 30 years running for elected office, Pat Quinn rarely, if ever, depended on Democratic committee members in his campaigns. But he might need some organized support next year. And it doesn't hurt to have someone like Zucarelli on your side.

It's not too early to talk about the issue because the February 2, 2010 Democratic and Republican primaries are only ten and a half months away.