William Burns

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William Burns
William Burns.jpg
Illinois House of Representatives District 26
Former officeholder
In office
2009-May 2011
Base salary$67,836/year
Per diem$132/per session day
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 2, 2010
First elected2008
Term limitsN/A
Office website
William D. Burns was a Democratic member of the Illinois House of Representatives, representing the 26th District. He was first elected in 2008 and served until May 2011. Burns resigned his seat following his election as Chicago's 4th Ward Alderman.[1]

Burns received his M.A. and B.A. from the University of Chicago.

He is the Former Deputy Chief of Staff/Senior Advisor to the Illinois Senate President, and current President of the Chicago Urban League.[2]

Committee assignments


In the 2011-2012 legislative session, Burns served on the following committees:


In the 2009-2010 legislative session, Burns served on the following committees:


Death penalty

At the beginning of the 2011 session, Kwame Raoul sponsored a proposal that will appeal the death penalty in Illinois. He faced opposition from the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association.

Raoul cited 10 years of studies that demonstrate a broken criminal justice system.

“There’s got to be a point where you try and solve a problem,” said Raoul. “I think it’s high time the Illinois justice system catch up.”

In 2000, former Gov. George Ryan placed a temporary moratorium on the death penalty, which has since been upheld. Three years later and two days before leaving office, he commuted the sentences of 167 Death Row prisoners.

Sheldon Sobol, Grundy County state's attorney and president of the Illinois State's Attorneys Association, said that the legislation was rushed through committee and that victims didn’t get a chance to be heard by lawmakers.

“When this bill is taken by the Legislature, they have not heard from the most important people that are impacted by this decision,” said Sobol.[3]

On January 6, 2011, the House narrowly passed the bill to abolish the death penalty. The measure now moves to the Senate, where it will be considered when that chamber returns to the Capitol next week.

Lawmakers approved Senate Bill 3539 with the required 60 votes after waging an earlier emotional, hour-long debate. However, the $20 million annual cost of death penalty cases that convinced state Rep. Patrick J. Verschoore to change his previous “no” vote to “yes.”

“I was on both sides of this issue. But then you think of the potential cost savings of this bill, and the state needs all of the savings we can get,” Verschoore said. “Besides, my wife was on me to vote for it.”

“Let’s instead put that money where it really matters,” said state Rep. Karen Yarbrough. “Let’s give law enforcement some training that they need to wage the fight against crime. Let’s give victims of these heinous crimes the support and services that they long deserve.”

Former FBI agent and state Rep. Jim Sacia could not be swayed. He recalled that Brian Dugan confessed to the 1985 killing of 7-year-old Melissa Ackerman in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.

“We wouldn’t have had information on the heinousness of this crime had we not had the tool of the death penalty,” Sacia said.

Rep. Robert W. Pritchard said issues of life and death aren’t that cut and dried.

“I agree there are cases that we’d like to have that perpetrator put to death,” Pritchard said. “But it’s arbitrary how and who we pursue in those cases.”

Rep. William Burns agreed and noted that the death penalty has often been biased in its implementation.

“If you’re an African-American who kills a white victim, you’re more likely to be sentenced to death than a white person who kills a black person,” Burns said. “That if you’re low-income, if you are uneducated, you’re more likely to be sentenced to death than someone who has more education and more money.”[4]



See also: Illinois House of Representatives elections, 2010

Burns won re-election to the 26th District seat against Republican Sylvester Hendricks. He ran unopposed in the Democratic primary on February 2nd. The general election took place on November 2, 2010.[5]

Illinois House of Representatives, District 26 (2010)
Candidates Votes Percent
Green check mark transparent.png William Burns (D) 29,914 83.48%
Sylvester Hendricks (R) 5,920 16.52%


On November 4, 2008, Democrat William Burns won re-election to the Illinois House of Representatives District 26 receiving 41,807 votes, ahead of Republican Sylvester Hendricks who received 6,770 votes.[6]

Illinois House of Representatives, District 26 (2008)
Candidates Votes
Green check mark transparent.png William Burns (D) 41,807
Sylvester Hendricks (R) 6,770

Campaign donors


In 2008, Burns collected $498,192 in donations.[7]

Listed below are those that contributed most to his campaign.

Donor Amount
Friends of Kwame Raoul $39,850
Highlander Pac $29,500
4th Ward Democratic Organization $15,784
Citizens for James M. Houlihan $10,000
Illinois Laborers $7,500
Illinois Federation of Teachers $7,265
Citizens for Preckwinkle $7,000
Service Employees Local 4 $6,958
Friends of Don Harmon $6,000
Cook County College Teachers Union $5,500
Illinois Education Association $5,250
Fred Eychaner $5,000
Synchronous Solutions Inc. $5,000
Stephen Davis $5,000
John W. Rogers Jr. $4,250
Illinois Trial Lawyers Association $4,000
Illinois State Medical Society $4,000
Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois $3,000
Conor O'Neil $3,000
Chicago Teachers Union $3,000

External links

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Political offices
Preceded by
Illinois House of Representatives District 26
2009–May 2011
Succeeded by
Kimberly du Buclet