In a historic move, Mike Simmonswho is Black (half African-American, half Ethiopian) and gayhas been chosen to succeed Heather Steans as Illinois state senator for the 7th District.
He was sworn in Feb. 6. On Facebook, he posted, "This evening I was sworn in as the new state Senator for Illinois's 7th District, my home. I am honored and humbled. This is a proud and historic moment for our District. We are sending the first openly LGBTQ+ member to the Illinois Senate, the first person of color to serve in either chamber representing Chicago's progressive north lakefront communities, and the first Ethiopian-American to serve in the Illinois General Assembly.
"First, I'd like to thank former Sen. Heather Steans for her extraordinary record of progressive accomplishments for our district. I also would like to thank Rep. Kelly Cassidy for her steadfast leadership and commitment to equity for the people of Illinois. I thank my family, the community, and the local Democratic Party leadership for placing their confidence in me. I also would like to thank the other candidates who stepped up and gave their all. You made this process better and we are all better for it.
"I look forward to going to work for our District and hitting the ground running in Springfield, particularly for our communities hit hard by the pandemic. I am excited to partner with Rep. Kelly Cassidy, Leader Greg Harris, the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, and our elected officials within and surrounding District 7 to bring outstanding public service to our neighborhoods and fight for everyday people from all backgrounds. I promise to be an authentic and fervent voice in Springfield on behalf of disenfranchised people in our community and beyond."
Cassidy, who was also vying for Steans' seat, issued her own press release. She stated, "I congratulate Mike Simmons on his appointment to the 7th District Senate seat long held by Sen. Steans. I thank our community members and the Democratic Party leadership in our area for their support, and for leading this process. I also thank the other candidates who stepped up and put their names forward on behalf of their communities.
"Finally, I am profoundly grateful to Sen. Steans, for her friendship and guidance over the years, and for her leadership on so many matters of critical importance to our communities.
"From COVID relief to tackling our budget challenges, from making sure our communities are fairly represented in redistricting to continuing to build on the progress in criminal justice reform forged by the Black Caucus, I pledge to continue to be a relentless voice for our values in the Illinois House of Representatives."
Also over the weekend, Springfield Ald. Doris Turner (a Democrat) was appointed to the state Senate seat vacated by former Sen. Andy Manar, Politico Playbook noted. Turner's appointment is also historic, as she is the first Black person to represent Springfield and Sangamon County in the state legislature.