DECATUR - Springfield Alderman Sam Cahnman has announced he will run for the Illinois House in the district that includes Decatur and the east side of downtown Springfield.
Cahnman, a Democrat currently representing Springfield's 5th Ward, is under investigation by Springfield police after a 23-year-old woman alleged he brought her home after a music festival, gave her alcohol and then had inappropriate sexual contact with her. Cahnman has denied any wrongdoing. There is currently a no-contact order mandating Cahnman remain 500 feet from the woman, with a status hearing scheduled for November.
Cahnman was acquitted of a separate charge in 2009 alleging he solicited sexual acts from two undercover female police officers. The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission has a pending disciplinary hearing regarding Cahnman, an attorney, in connection with several incidents, including the 2009 charge.
The Springfield State Journal-Register endorsed Cahnman's candidacy for alderman twice, even after his 2009 charge, though the paper's editorial page recently urged him to resign.
"When I ran for re-election for alderman, my opponent's campaign was almost exclusively based on attacking me personally," Cahnman said. "He never said there was a vote on the city council he disagreed with, or that I didn't do a good job representing the people. This has been tried and it didn't work, and I think the people are interested in evaluating candidates based on their record in office. I don't think voters are interested in personal attacks."
Cahnman, who said he comes to Decatur often for court cases as a lawyer, said Decatur shares many concerns his Springfield ward does, including abandoned properties, poverty and drugs. If elected, he said he would make jobs his primary focus.
"We need to do things like, for example, the Tenaska project in Taylorville," Cahnman said. "It would have created thousands of construction jobs and revived the Illinois coal industry. I would vote for a project like that."
Cahnman said he would also work to streamline Illinois government, saying he believes the state has too many school districts and other units of government. He touted his involvement in the creation of the Citizens Utility Board, for which he once served as vice president.
"I've shown leadership in the need to streamline government," Cahnman said. "I fought for and got a referendum in Sangamon County to cut the size of the county board in half."
Cahnman faces Springfield Democrat Winston Taylor in the primary. Democratic Sangamon County Board member Chris Boyster has expressed interest in seeking the seat as well.