Following is a statement from State Rep. Kelly Cassidy in response to today’s vote for Speaker of the House of Representatives:
“While Speaker Madigan has dedicated his life to this chamber, it was clear that the time for change has come. And that change comes in the election of the first Black Speaker of the House. That is something our state should celebrate, especially on the heels of the historic criminal justice reform package we passed today–which was a direct result of the work of our Black Caucus. Having a more diverse slate of leaders in Illinois right now is critical, which is why I decided not to put my own name in for Speaker, after some serious consideration.
“While I have always had a strong relationship with and a great deal of respect for Speaker Welch and believe him to be a good man, I reserved my vote and recorded myself as ‘present’ in the Speaker’s election today. I did so because, at the same time that we’re ending years of scandal over allegations of sexual harassment and corruption, we have also just been made aware of troubling allegations from Speaker Welch’s past. He has denied each allegation, and we certainly have seen plenty of examples of Black men being wrongfully accused. I feel strongly that I have been too outspoken on issues of sexual harassment and domestic violence to simply ignore these questions.
“I have worked with victims for decades. I am a survivor of domestic violence. I trust women. I know the complexities of choosing to pursue charges or other legal action. This isn’t a simple situation–and it should not be dismissed as such by any of us.
“It is my fervent wish that these allegations will be vigorously reviewed so that we can move forward as a unified caucus embracing this historic moment.”