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Bassi, Morrison spar over record in House 54 primary
By Kimberly Pohl | Daily Herald Staff

Tom Morrison


Suzie Bassi


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Published: 12/30/2009 12:00 AM | Updated: 1/18/2010 8:42 PM

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Two Republicans are vying for the 54th District state House seat in the Feb. 2 primary, and both are trying to spin Illinois' budget mess in their favor.

Six-term incumbent Suzie Bassi of Palatine says now is not the time to send a political newcomer like 34-year-old Tom Morrison to Springfield, and says her experience is necessary to help dig the state out of a deficit some project to hit $11 billion next year.

"I know the system and the state is in absolute and utter crisis," Bassi, 64, said. "You don't want a newbie down there."

Meanwhile, Morrison, a small-business owner who also lives in Palatine, says there's a growing discontent with incumbents and describes Bassi as an elected official who makes a lot of noise but avoids taking sides on controversial issues.

"People are ready for real change," Morrison said. "She (Bassi) had a chance to make a difference."

Since elected to the post in 1999, Bassi said, she has drafted legislation that downsized state government, worked on bipartisan efforts to keep the Regional Transportation Authority operating and helped roll back the Cook County sales tax rate.

She was also behind a bill that allows a court to order a domestic abuser to wear a GPS tracking device when a restraining order has been violated.

Morrison's top campaign issue is to restore trust and confidence in state government. He said that if elected, he's willing to buck his own party leader and caucus and answer all roll calls with a "yes" or "no," as opposed to being absent, voting "present" or not voting at all.

Morrison points to one particular piece of legislation he said serves as an example of his opponent's spotty voting record. He maintains Bassi mischaracterized her position on senior free rides during a speech at a November breakfast of the Palatine Township Republican organization, TOPPER.

According to a flyer Morrison's camp sent to the township's Republican precinct captains seeking their endorsement (Morrison has been a precinct captain since 2003), Bassi said she voted to get rid of the free rides.

However, Morrison said Bassi didn't cast a vote because she was absent.

Bassi said that's just the kind of scenario in which "people who don't have a record like to manipulate the numbers," adding she drafted a bill to repeal senior free rides and in October introduced a measure currently in a rules committee seeking to restrict rides to low-income seniors.

Bassi said her absence, which was excused, was due to a previously scheduled family event and that the House wasn't due to be in session that day.

The 54th District covers most of Palatine and parts of South Barrington, Hoffman Estates, Inverness and Rolling Meadows.