Q & A with St. Clair County Board member Steve Reeb

Steve Gonzalez Jan. 6, 2005, 1:47pm

St. Clair County Board member Steve Reeb

Steve Reeb, a St. Clair County board member from Swansea, lost his bid for county chairmanship to Belleville Democrat Mark Kern. He shares some perspective:

Can Madison and St. Clair counties turn around their "hellhole"

It's going to be tough for St. Clair and Madison counties to lose their "judicial hellhole" reputations. Our St. Clair County Board passed a bi-partisan resolution last year calling for state legislation on tort reform, as well as for lobbying Senator Durbin to change his vote to favor national tort reform.

We have seen no action since that time, except for lobbying in Springfield by board members such as myself. Our local elected officials, most of whom are Democrats, must show sincerity by pushing for tort reform, or the county tort reform resolution is nothing more than a piece of paper. The fact of the matter is that they don't want legal reform in spite of the more than 7,000 signatures that we collected last year supporing the county board tort reform resolution.

Until that changes - or until we get meaningful tort reform legislation at some level - we'll continue to wear the "hellhole" label.

President Bush announced that he wants to sign federal legislation this year for tort reform. If this legislation is passed do you think we still need to push for state caps as well?

Federal tort reform is so close to passage, and as I have continued to point out for the past year, our own Senator Dick Durbin is the main stumbling block to getting this bill to President Bush's desk. Our new U.S. Senator, Barack Obama, looks to side with Durbin on tort reform, but hopefully, we have the overall votes in the Senate to get tort reform passed this year. Regardless, we need to see tort reform legislation, and a constitutional amendment, come out of our state legislature this spring.

If federal legislation passes, then any state legislation can be amended to fill in any blanks that might be specific to legal reform in Illinois.

What's the hardest part about running for office in St. Clair County?

First of all, running for office in St. Clair County is worth every bit of effort. Sure, it's hard, and probably the hardest part is the fact that county government is so completely controlled by Democrats - from the county clerk's office to the East St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners.

It's very difficult to stay on top of things like absentee voting, including nursing home voting dates, as well as other election-related activities. We had so much support and won so many traditionally Democrat areas in the county board chairman's race, but when it came right down to it, we didn't have the people power or the authority to monitor many of the aspects of the election process.

This is very difficult to accept in the face of the unprecedented support we received, financially and otherwise. Conversely, the momentum we generated is serving as a springboard to political progress, and the investigations into voter fraud is another positive sign.

Who in local politics do you most admire? Why?

I admire those in local politics who "suit up" when called upon, and leaders who stand on principle rather than political calculations. Congressman John Shimkus and Illinois Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson are at the top of my list; they are true public servants and role models for all elected officials.

For instance, last year Congressman Shimkus and Senator Watson called me to Springfield to advise them on the burgeoning tort reform movement in the metro-east. That says so much about these gentlemen; they knew I was at the forefront of this effort, and they wanted me to fill them in. They were, and certainly continue to be, very understanding and committed to tort reform, as well as to their constituents overall.

Who is going to win the Super Bowl?

So the last question is the toughest!

The Rams seem to be peaking at the right time, but their "wild card" (no pun intended) is Coach Martz's often-questionable strategies. I suppose when it comes down to it, I can't really see anyone beating New England. They are so professional and don't make a lot of mistakes, and that's what wins championships.

On a closing note, I want your readers to know that things have not slowed down since the election. I'm working with several candidates in the spring municipal and township elections across the metro-east, and that bodes well for political change in our area. We have a real movement going on that is a direct culmination of our campaigning efforts, and our success in so many unprecedented ways.

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