New House Speaker Names Evanston State Rep To Leadership Post

EVANSTON, IL — State Rep. Robyn Gabel was named to House Speaker Chris Welch’s new Democratic leadership team Thursday.

The Evanston resident and six-term state representative becomes the only one of the 19 House Democrats who publicly opposed a continuation of the decades-long reign of former Speaker Mike Madigan to be named to a leadership post by the new speaker.

"Speaker Welch has called on every member of this House to work together to meet the challenges of this moment," Gabel said in a statement announcing the leadership team.

"We come to the table prepared to advocate for the critical services families and small businesses need to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, smart budget solutions that invest in our future, the health of our families, our environmental resources, strong schools and a strong economy," she said.

Gabel was the only lawmaker who was not among the 51 House Democrats who voted in a Jan. 10 caucus meeting for Madigan to remain in charge to be named to a position on the leadership team.

In November, Gabel and three other House Democrats — Reps. Deb Conroy, Anna Moeller and Ann Williams — privately sent a letter to Madigan calling for new leadership in the chamber.

After the letter’s existence was reported publicly, the four lawmakers issued a statement that did not mention the former speaker by name but cryptically referred to making sure voters have confidence in their leaders and pledging to continue to "determine the future of our leadership while working to restore public trust."

In the initial ballot for leadership of the Democratic caucus, Williams received 18 votes. Madigan then "suspended" his campaign for the post on Jan. 11. Welch stepped in and eventually secured more than the 60 votes needed for the speakership.

Welch decided to retain some of Madigan’s leadership team, including Majority Leader Rep. Greg Harris, of Chicago, Deputy Majority Leader Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, of Peoria, and Assistant Majority Leaders Rep. Natalie Manley, of Joliet, and Rep. Jay Hoffman, of Swansea.

Rep. Mary Flowers, of Chicago, was named a new deputy majority leader. Rep. Carol Ammons, of Urbana, was named Democratic Caucus chair, replacing Rep. Kathleen Willis, of Addison, one of the 19 House Democrats who opposed Madigan.

Joining Gabel as assistant majority leaders were Reps. Jaime Andrade, Delia Ramirez and Marcus Evans, all from Chicago.

Will Guzzardi, who joined the opposition to Madigan’s continued speakership after Madigan’s longtime confidant and three senior Commonwealth Edison officials were indicted by federal prosecutors on bribery conspiracy charges, was tapped by Welch as the caucus whip for the Progressive Caucus, which had a dozen House Democrats as members last session.

Unlike the leadership positions, which each bring additional annual compensation of more than $10,000, the caucus positions are unpaid.

Welch said he was committed to putting together a leadership team that values the things that led to past successes but still pursues needed changes.

"Throughout their careers, Reps. Gordon-Booth, Gabel, Andrade and Hoffman have all brought leadership, integrity and unique perspectives to our chamber," the speaker said in a statement announcing his new leadership team.

"They have spoke passionately for their communities and also extended their hands to their colleagues in compromise," he added. "I look forward to working closely with them, and with all members of this chamber, to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of this moment."

via Evanston, IL Patch

February 2, 2021 at 09:11PM

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