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Spanish Daily Journal
     October 23, 2019      #54-296 sdj
 

Who will fill state Senate seat? 

¿Quién ocupará el escaño en el Senado estatal?

By David Giuliani
dgiuliani@daily-journal.com


KANKAKEE — Three area politicians have declined the opportunity to apply for the soon-to-be-vacant state Senate seat.

At the same time, no one has publicly stepped forward to vie for the seat held by Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, who is resigning to take a top job in Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration.

Under state law, Democratic Party leaders in the 40th Senate District have the right to choose Hutchinson’s replacement, who must be a Democrat.

In an interview Tuesday, Kankakee County Democratic Party Chairman John Willard said four candidates have put their names forward to the party so far, but have not announced publicly. Two of them are from Kankakee County and two from Cook County, he said. The party is not releasing their names yet, he said.

Shortly after Hutchinson’s appointment late last month, both Kankakee Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong and former state Rep. Lisa Dugan, D-Bradley, both said they would not apply for the position.

However, Rep. Anthony DeLuca, D-Chicago Heights, initially said he was interested in the Senate seat. His 80th District makes up half of Hutchinson’s district; the other half is Kankakee Republican Lindsay Parkhurst’s 79th.

More recently, DeLuca issued a statement saying he would, instead, focus on running for his representative seat. He said his service as chairman of the House Cities and Villages Committee has helped his south suburban constituents.

“Therefore, after much deliberation, I will not be seeking the 40th District Senate seat soon to be vacated by my dear friend, Toi Hutchinson,” DeLuca said. “I’m far better positioned to remain in the House where I’m able to serve my constituents and the south suburbs with greater ability because I maintain my committee chairmanship and my seniority. It’s been a pleasure working with Senator Hutchinson and I wish her and her successor the very best.”

DeLuca, a former Chicago Heights mayor, has served in the state House for more than a decade.

Last month, Pritzker appointed Hutchinson, a senator for more than 10 years, to coordinate the state’s recreational marijuana efforts. She will make $220,000 a year in her new job. Recreational marijuana becomes legal in Illinois on Jan. 1.

Willard said party leaders plan to hold a public meeting with the candidates for the position, but members of the public will not get to ask questions. He said the party will set a meeting once Hutchinson’s resignation becomes official. She is expected to leave her position Nov. 3, he said. That meeting must be held within 30 days of the resignation, he said.

The 40th Senate District is strongly Democratic.

Hutchinson, who ran unopposed in 2016, has not returned Daily Journal messages.

Contacted Tuesday, a state Senate staffer said Hutchinson would continue as senator during next week’s fall veto session in Springfield. A resolution in her honor is expected to be presented.

Hutchinson sponsored the legislation legalizing recreational marijuana earlier this year.

“The duality of the way cannabis is discussed in this country is actually quite sad,” the senator said in a Facebook post last week. “It’s in most movies and TV shows, it’s normalized all over the place. It shows up at trendy dinner parties. But when you add race to the mix, it turns to talks about crime, laziness, and every other stereotype you can think of. Prohibition doesn’t work. Never has. Never will. We need to get our arms around this.”

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