Evanston legislators split by party on death penalty

The recent historic votes on Jan. 6 and Jan. 10 by both houses of the Illinois General Assembly to abolish the death penalty in this state found the delegation representing Evanston split along party lines. State Senator Jeff Schoenberg, a Democrat whose 9th District includes all of Evanston, was said to have been initially opposed to the repeal of capital punishment, but after considerable citizen input not only voted for SB 3539 but, according to an Evanston anti-death-penalty activist, delivered an eloquent floor speech (transcript not yet available on the ILGA website).
In the House, a flurry of members became co-sponsors of the bill in November shortly after House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D.-25) became chief House sponsor, and among those was Robyn Gabel (D.-18), who was appointed to fill Julie Hamos's vacancy in the spring and subsequently won election in her own right this November. Gabel then also voted for the repeal as it narrowly passed the House, 60-54. However, lame duck Republican state representative Beth Coulson (R.-17), whose district  since 1992 had included the 6 westernmost precincts in Evanston, voted against the repeal.
Daniel Biss (D.-17), who won election to Coulson's open seat this past November, was sworn into office on Jan. 12 and so did not vote on the bill.
The bill awaits the signature or veto of Governor Pat Quinn. Use this link to contact the governor's office.