ROCKFORD (WIFR) – The Stateline’s first African-American female state representative takes her oath of office.
Litesa Wallace was officially worn in to represent the 67th District. She was appointed to Chuck Jefferson’s house seat last week after serving as his chief of staff for the last three years.
She believes she’ll be able to offer a different perspective.
“I’m a little younger and I think that I’ll be able to offer that type of perspective and the ability to balance a household budget, I would like to help use some of those critical thinking skills in some of the decisions I make in Springfield.
Wallace says the work has already started, however her first day as the new representative will be in November.
UPDATE: ROCKFORD (WIFR) – We now know who will replace former Illinois House representative Chuck Jefferson.
Litesa Wallace is the new representative for the 67th District. The three-member panel of the Winnebago County Democratic Party made the announcement around 4:00 at the Zeke Giorgi building in Rockford.
It took the committee about an hour to make the unanimous decision. Wallace is the former chief of staff for Chuck Jefferson as well as his pick to replace him in office. Wallace supports increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, as well as extending the temporary income tax increase. As a new representative, she says there are several areas that need work.
Wallace says she’ll be out knocking on doors, getting to know her constituents. She still doesn’t know when she’ll take the oath of office.
The committee that chose Wallace says it was not an easy decision, making it clear that Wallace was not chosen just because she was Jefferson’s choice.
Party Chairman Charlie Laskonis, County Board Member L.C. Wilson, and Odell Simpson asked all five candidates the same questions – where they stand on issues like minimum wage, the temporary income tax increase, and marriage equality. Each candidate also had five minutes to tell the panel about themselves. Laskonis says Wallace’s experience and knowledge is what helped them make their decision.
Wallace was elected to fill Jefferson’s term through December. She will also be on the November ballot to permanently fill the vacancy. There is no republican challenger.
ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- We're hearing from former state representative Chuck Jefferson for the first time today after he announced his retirement this week, and it was an emotional goodbye.
"If it's an emotional movement, I'll share the tears," said Chuck Jefferson.
Chuck Jefferson's goodbye certainly was emotional.
"I figure this was the best time for me to retire," Jefferson said in tears today.
In Jefferson's 13 plus years representing the 67th district, he says he's most proud of helping create sub-circuit districts.
"As a result of that legislation, we elected the first African American judge and we also elected a white female," explains Jefferson.
Jefferson is endorsing a woman, his chief of staff Litesa Wallace, to take his place.
"Litesa knows the office, she's been working in the environment for the last 3 1/2 plus years, she's dealt with legislation, with the legislatives, she's dealt with Speaker Madigan's office as well as a lot of other things," said Jefferson.
Wallace doesn't want to comment on Jefferson's recommendation but she says whomever fills his seat, should embody similar characteristics of the long-time rep.
"Kind of an openness and a willingness to just get and be there with the people," said Wallace.
And that's how Jefferson wants to be remembered.
"I think more than anything, compassionate and caring for all the people I represent," said Jefferson.
Jefferson says it's simply time for him to retire.
The Winnebago County Democratic Party must choose Jefferson's replacement within 30 days. Chairman Charlie Laskonis says he'd like the same person who finishes Jefferson's term through December, to also be placed on the ballot to fill the permanent vacancy.
After serving the city of Rockford and Winnebago County for more than two decades, Rockford State Representative Chuck Jefferson has resigned as the 67th District Representative effective immediately.
Jefferson sent a letter to the Chief Clerk of the Illinois House and House Speaker Michael Madigan, informing them of his resignation.
Jefferson has been the state representative since 2001. Prior to that, he served 10 years on the Winnebago County Board. No reason for Jefferson's resignation has been given. His term expires next year. The local democratic party will appoint a person to fill Jefferson's term.