LAKE COUNTY, IL — Democratic Party leaders responsible for selecting someone to fill the Illinois Senate seat vacated by this month’s resignation of Terry Link say they are accepting applications from people interested in serving out the rest of his term.
Link, 73, of Indian Creek, resigned from the state senate seat he had held for nearly more than two decades — just days before pleading guilty to one count of tax fraud in a deal with prosecutors that could see him both avoid jail time and keep his public pension.
His resignation was timed to keep his 30th District seat off the Nov. 3 ballot, preventing local Republican Party leaders from picking a candidate to challenge Link’s appointed successor until 2022.
As the former chair of the Lake County Democratic Party, Link had been positioned to pick his own replacement if he resigned from the state senate earlier.
But facing an imminent threat of ouster by precinct commiteepeople in his party, Link resigned first from his chairmanship of the county party.
With the vast majority of the district located within Lake County, that post holds the decisive vote on who to appoint to fill a vacancy, under Illinois state law. Link was succeeded in the role by former State Rep. Lauren Beth Gash, of Highland Park, who had served as his vice chair.
Due to the small portion of the district that falls within suburban Cook County, the Democratic Party committeeperson for Wheeling Township — State Rep. Mark Walker, of Arlington Heights — also technically has a say in the matter.
They have until Oct. 12 to pick a new state senator for the district, which includes all or part of Beach Park, Buffalo Grove, Green Oaks, Lincolnshire, Mundelein, North Chicago, Riverwoods, Wheeling, Vernon Hills and Waukegan.
Gash and Walker issued a statement Thursday committing to seek input from people who live in the district and inviting anyone interested in taking over Link’s seat to submit a short statement and biography detailing their qualifications.
“We would have preferred that the voters had been given the opportunity to vote for this office in November. But, due to state law, the timing of this resignation made that impossible,” Gash said in the statement.
More than 40 people have already expressed an interest in the seat, according to Gash, who declined to name which elected officials are among them.
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Whoever Gash and Walker select for the seat must be at least 18 years old, have lived in the district for at least two years, be committed to serving others and be “solid Democrats,” according to the statement from party officials, which invited state senate hopefuls to send informal applications to StateSenateAppointment@gmail.com.
“Democrats are happy to put our candidates up against Republicans any day, especially with this President at the top of their ticket,” Gash added. “Voters in this area share our Democratic values.”
Lake County Republican Party Chair Mark Shaw accused Gash of a “presumed plot” involving Link, Illinois Democratic Party Chair Mike Madigan and other party leaders and called on the Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation.
“The Federal Prosecutor should investigate as a potential violation of the federal law — Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law. Illinois politicians have been playing these slimy games to prevent voters from choosing their elected representatives for far too long,” Shaw said in a statement.
A judge has not yet set a sentencing date for Link, who continues to cooperate with prosecutors and has not responded to requests for comment since his indictment.
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September 25, 2020 at 02:26PM