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IL Press: Students cast ballots on cold-blooded candidates

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Posted by: W von Papinešu at Sun Jan 2 15:45:35 2005  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by W von Papinešu ]  
   

STATE JOURNAL REGISTER (Springfield, Illinois) 02 January 05 Students cast ballots on cold-blooded candidates - Salamander, painted turtle chosen for state amphibian, reptile (Maura Kelly Lannan)
Chicago (AP): The Eastern tiger salamander slipped by two other finalists in balloting for the title of state amphibian, while slow and steady was a winning strategy for the painted turtle in the state reptile race, Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn said Saturday.
"We want to commend each of the candidates for a very strong, positive, educational campaign. While the candidates may live in the muck, they didn't sling any mud in this election. Not one of them went negative," Quinn said.
More than 75,000 votes were cast since the finalists were announced in August, Quinn said. The public vote, which was conducted on his Web site, ended at midnight Friday.
Quinn said he expects quick action by the state legislature to consider adopting the Eastern tiger salamander as the official state amphibian and the painted turtle as the official state reptile. If adopted, they will join a list of 17 other state symbols, from state tree (white oak) to state fossil (Tully monster).
"Historically, they've approved the people's choice in the past," Quinn said.
The Eastern tiger salamander received 51 percent of the vote in the amphibian category, garnering about 8,600 more votes than the gray tree frog, which earned 28 percent of the vote, and the American toad, which got 21 percent.
"The toad and the frog kind of split up the vote and allowed the salamander to slip in," Quinn said.
The reptile race was tighter - about 4,800 votes separated the painted turtle, which got 45 percent of the vote, from the garter snake, which received 32 percent of the vote. The Eastern box turtle plodded along in third place with 23 percent.
The Chicago Herpetological Society, a 700-member group that rallied support for the election, sent thousands of letters to schools around the state, asking teachers to incorporate the election into their curriculum. The group eventually won support for the designations from Quinn and state Rep. Bob Biggins, R-Elmhurst.
The society scaled down a list of 102 reptiles and amphibians native to Illinois to settle on the three finalists for each. The candidates had to be easily found throughout much of the state and had to be relatively attractive.
"The real winners here are the students of Illinois," Quinn said. "Thousands of children went online to pick their favorite reptile and amphibian. It was an opportunity to learn about conservation and natural resources."
Students cast ballots on cold-blooded candidates


   

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