Kimberly Neely Du Buclet, a commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD), was selected to replace Lamont Robinson as representative of the Illinois General Assembly’s 5th District. A former state house appointee of the 26th District, Du Buclet was again appointed to the legislature by local democratic committeepeople last Saturday.
In a May 13 public meeting at Greater Harvest Missionary Church, 5141 S. State St., Neely Du Buclet made her case alongside six other candidates vying for the position before community members and commiteepeople in wards represented by the 5th district.
Neely Du Buclet’s selection followed Robinson’s resignation from the position last week, after being elected alderman of the 4th Ward. Robinson, who held the state seat since 2018, was sworn into City Council on May 15.
Committeepeople included Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd Ward), Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle (4th Ward) whose proxies were held at the meeting by political consultant Al Kindle, former Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th Ward), Ald. Michelle Harris (8th Ward) with proxies held by Dowell, state Sen. Mattie Hunter (20th Ward) and Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward).
Other candidates included Earl Grandberry Jr., a community coordinator for Chicago Public Schools; Jennifer Maddox, a former police officer and candidate for 20th Ward alder; Jason Monsour, Robinson’s former Chief of Staff; Dulana Reese, Chief of Staff to state Rep. Kam Buckner (D-26); Dr. Dilara Sayeed, president of the Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition; and Andre Smith, founder of Chicago Against Violence and former candidate for 20th Ward alder.
After making statements, each candidate was questioned by the committee, which focused on candidates’ ability to hit the ground running. They were also asked what new legislation or areas of legislation they would bring to the table once appointed. The committee then retired in executive session to another meeting room in the church where they deliberated the merits of the candidates for more than an hour.
Each committeeman held a number of votes to be cast determined by voter turnout from the 2022 primary election in the portions of each ward included within the 5th District. Of the 11,925 votes needed to win the appointment, Dowell held 11,592 votes and the proxies for 233 votes from Harris. Reilly held 4,201 votes, Hunter held 4,152 votes, Preckwinkle held 2,783 votes and Hairston held 886 votes.
Returning from the deliberation, Dowell announced that Neely Du Buclet had been the unanimous choice of the committee. She promptly formally resigned her position as MWRD commissioner and was immediately sworn in as the new 5th District representative by Circuit Court Judge Marian Perkins.
Illinois is one of four states that places the power of filling vacancies in the state legislature in this way, and the same appointment process has been used several times locally in the past few decades.
In 2004, Kwame Raoul was appointed state senator for the 13th District to replace Barack Obama after his election to the U.S. Senate. In 2019, Robert Peters was then appointed to replace Raoul after his election as Illinois Attorney General. It was also used to appoint Neely Du Buclet as state representative for the 26th District in 2011 to replace Will Burns, who was stepping down after being elected 4th Ward alderman.
Neely Du Buclet lived in Kenwood in 2011 and currently lives in South Loop.
“No one is going to outwork me”
Neely Du Buclet, a commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District since 2018, brings more than 12 years of municipal and state government experience to her new position.
“I have advocated for sustainable water management, and environmental protection,” Neely Du Buclet told the committee. “This role has granted me a comprehensive understanding of the complexities surrounding water resource management, renewable energy, sustainable energy and energy conservation, all of which are challenges for our state as we speak.”
Her legislative experience began in 2011, when she was appointed state Rep. for the 26th District after incumbent William D. Burns resigned to become 4th Ward alderman. She served the remainder of his term and did not run for re-election, ending her tenure in 2013.
Neely Du Buclet emphasized her work in promoting Senate Bill 3349, a 2012 piece of sentencing reform legislation. The bill made it so that first time offenders are sentenced to probation rather than jail for certain offenses, in addition to allowance for defendants to expunge felony convictions.
Following her time in the state house, she served as Director of Legislature and Community Affairs at the Chicago Park District from 2013 to 2019.
“(The) Chicago Park District provided me with tons of insights into the needs and aspirations of our local communities,” Neely Du Buclet said on Saturday. “I have witnessed firsthand the transformative power of accessible green spaces, recreational playgrounds and group programming. I have worked with every single alderman and committee person and senator in this room from new playgrounds and play lots to refurbish the new field houses to new dog parks.”
“I know the community, I know the issues, I know the district and I know the people,” she continued.
In January 2023, Neely Du Buclet was appointed as an Environmental Protection Agency Local Government Advisory Committee member, a position that provides recommendations to the agency for local investments from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.
“This (position) highlights my ability to collaborate on the national level, bringing innovative ideas and practices to environmental policy discussions right here in our district and in the state of Illinois, ” Neely Du Buclet told the committee. “Environmental justice has been my focus as I fight to ensure that disadvantaged communities of color have access to clean air, clean water homes that are free from flooding and fresh food.”
Following her appointment, Neely Du Buclet told the Herald, “I am excited. I’m ready to work.” Her first areas of focus include prison reform, criminal justice reform and early childhood education.
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May 15, 2023 at 05:21PM