Things are going OK at the home of Sangamon County Board member JOHN DAVSKO — but not without challenges.

Things are going OK at the home of Sangamon County Board member JOHN DAVSKO — but not without challenges.

Davsko, 65, a Republican representing District 29 and a member of the Springfield Sports Hall of Fame, was diagnosed in August 2010 with what is known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS, which involves a progressive degeneration of nerve cells that are responsible for motion. He’s in a wheelchair and is unable to speak, said his wife, SUE. He also can’t swallow and is being fed via a tube to his stomach.

But, she added, his mind is sharp, he communicates via iPad or computer, and he can “help me help him” as he gets in and out of the wheelchair.

“People ask me how I’m doing, and I say, ‘I’m doing OK because of him,’” she said. “He never complains, ever. It’s amazing, really.”

Davsko was appointed to replace Springfield Ward 10 Ald. TIM GRIFFIN on the county board in 2007 and was elected on his own in 2008. His wife has been helping him, he wrote in a campaign-funded holiday card, including being “my eyes and ears at some meetings.”

“The best decision of my life was marrying Sue,” the card states. “While helping me, she’s become more and more interested in county business to the point that if I didn’t endorse her, I think she might run against me. So, I’m encouraging her to run for the county board and I’m hoping you’ll agree that she will do a great job.”

Sue Davsko, who is on leave from the secretary of state’s office, filed as the GOP candidate in the new 29th District. She said her husband has always been interested in politics, as well as history, geography and sports. She said it was their mutual decision that she run.

As for her goals on the board, she said, “I really can’t pinpoint anything — just if somebody comes to me with something, I hope to help resolve it as best I can.” She said she is a “people person.”

John Davsko’s 2002 induction into the local sports hall of fame included his exploits at Griffin High, where he graduated in 1964 as an all-state basketball player and in baseball was the No. 1 pitcher on the state championship team. He played baseball and basketball at St. Louis University, where he had a 7-0 record in 1966. Davsko was drafted by the Cardinals in 1968 and went 8-1 at Class A St. Petersburg in his first professional season. He had short stints in Class AA and Class AAA before an arm injury ended his career.

Democrats as yet don’t have a candidate in the new 29th.

The Davskos have two grown sons — one of whom just got married — and John can write messages to or watch sports with visitors, his wife said.

“He’s the one that keeps everybody going,” she said.

“If courage is grace under pressure, John and Sue are two of the most courageous people I have ever met,” said County Board Chairman ANDY VAN METER. “They face each difficult day with good humor and determination (and) we all want to be as supportive as we can be.”

Second thoughts
Easy come, easy go.

That’s the situation with a planned Sangamon County Rescue Squad extrication demonstration that had been planned for next week.

BILL RUSSELL JR., who doubles as volunteer chief of the squad along with his paid job as deputy coordinator of the county’s office of emergency management, said the event was canceled after I called and asked about it.

I learned of the plan after a news release was faxed to the newspaper. That release said the demonstration was at the request of Sen. SAM McCANN, R-Carlinville, although other lawmakers had been invited, and that a McCann staff member “will be in the car as the Senator is shown how and instructed on extrication techniques. …”

McCann happens to be running for state Senate in the new 50th District, which includes much of Sangamon County. However, his current district doesn’t come into the county. So I wondered about the appearance of a campaign event.

It turns out, said JIM OWENS, the squad’s volunteer chaplain, that McCann attended a meeting of an Illinois House task force on emergency medical services funding last month where the squad’s work happened to be discussed.

“He said that he has never seen firsthand” how an extrication works, Owens said. That led to the demonstration being scheduled.

However, Russell said later that, although plenty of people, from nurses to school groups, have seen demonstrations, it is not usual to issue a news release, as Owens did for this event.  The squad also comes under purview of the county’s emergency management agency, and proper approvals weren’t obtained before the event was scheduled, Russell said.

“Due to improper handling of the situation, (we) just canceled it,” Russell said. “People could look at it as being political. The rescue squad doesn’t get involved in politics at all.”

McCann, of course, is caught in the middle here. He said there was “no element whatsoever” of politics involved. He said he just wanted to “learn more about what they do and to support good people doing good things.”

Russell said such a demonstration could be scheduled again — as long as it goes through proper channels.

Bernard Schoenburg is political columnist for The State Journal-Register. He can be reached at 788-1540 or Bernard.schoenburg@sj-r.com.