* Press release…
Following an unprecedented commitment to a public appointment process, Michael Kelly has been appointed State Representative for the 15th Legislative District, replacing former state Rep. John D’Amico who announced his resignation earlier this month.
The appointment process, as required by law, had to happen within 30 days of the vacancy announced on Nov. 5, 2021.
“We owed it to the people of the 15th Legislative District to make sure public input informed this appointment,” said state Sen. Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago), committeeperson for the 39th Ward. “As a result, we had seven applicants up for consideration who we heard from today for close to four hours and all of the respective elected committeepersons voted for an applicant that represents the values of the 15th Legislative District and the priorities expressed by our communities during the last few weeks.”
Villivalam was the Chief Co-Sponsor of Senate Bill 825, which was signed into law in June and includes a process to the legislative appointment procedure, where none had been before.
Per the new statute, prior to holding today’s meeting to fill the vacancy, the committee made public:
• The names and contact information for the Committeepersons legally tasked with the appointment
• Information on how to apply or submit a name for consideration as the appointee
• The date, time and location of today’s in-district and virtual meeting to fill the vacancy
The appointment committee also sent multiple email blasts, made multiple social media posts, purchased ads in multiple newspapers, contacted members of the press, made themselves publicly available to the communities they serve, and invited press to the in-person and livestreamed appointment meeting.
* Brian Nadig at Nadig Newspapers…
Kelly’s appointment to fill out D’Amico’s term was not a surprise. In political circles he was considered the favorite, with the behind-the-scenes backing of D’Amico, who had served in the General Assembly since 2004.
Edgebrook area resident Michael Rabbitt said that he helped start the social justice ministry at the Saint Mary of the Woods Parish and launched Neighbors for Affordable Housing. He said that he would support lifting the statewide ban on rent control, explaining that towns should make their own decision on the matter, and that he supports the proposed 297-unit apartment complex at 8535 W. Higgins Ave., which Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41st) opposes. It would include nearly 60 affordable units.
“I have a track record as a problem solver (and) a community connector,” said Rabbitt, who works as a business transformation leader for Argonne National Laboratory.
Rabbitt, who is supported by SEIU Healthcare and the political group 39th Neighbors United, launched his campaign prior to D’Amico’s retirement announcement and plans to challenge Kelly next year in the primary.
* Rachel Hinton at the Sun-Times…
Kelly has worked on previous campaigns for D’Amico, Ald. Samantha Nugent (39th) and her predecessor, Ald. Margaret Laurino, who is D’Amico’s aunt. D’Amico was not part of the process to pick his replacement, but voiced his support after the appointment. […]
As for Kelly, “he voted in two Republican primaries,” [Anthony Joel Quezada, 35th Ward Democratic committeeperson] said. “I just didn’t see a lot of political experience and history, and I didn’t get a lot of calls from community members supporting him. But, again, that does not necessarily speak to the full character of Mr. Kelly. I wish him the best of luck in his next chapter.” […]
Rabbitt has already launched a campaign for the office. Brophy and Melaniphy said they would not run, while Kehoe said she likely wouldn’t either.
Kelly said he took a GOP ballot in 2010 because his union endorsed Judy Baar Topinka in the primary. He took a Republican ballot two years later as a favor to a friend.
Committeeperson Quezada, by the way, had an infinitesimal 0.01 percent of the weighted vote. He talked a lot, but had pretty much zero influence. Rabbitt was already running against D’Amico, which ruled him out.
* D’Amico’s backing and this list of Kelly’s endorsements is what got him the win…
• Chicago Fire Department Local 2 - Jim Tracey
• Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois - Chuck Sullivan
• IBEW Electricians Local 134 - Michael Cudzik
• Carpenters Local - Kevin O’Gorman
• Chicago Laborers District Council, LiUNA - Jim Connolly
• International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 - James Sweeney
• Sprinkler Fitters Local 281 - Tom Collins
• Sheetmetal Workers International Association, SMART Local 265 - John Daniels
• Sheetmetal Workers Local 73 - Ray Suggs
• IBEW Electricians Local 176 - Mike Clemens
• Stationary Engineers Local 399 - John Hanley
• Plumbers Union Local 130 - James Coyne
• Iron Workers Local 62 - Paul Wende
• Teamsters Joint council No. 25 - Terrence Hancock
• Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 137 - Aaron Gurnsey
Kelly read that list at the meeting. Those trade unions are very active in that part of the world. AFSCME and the CTU did not endorse a candidate. Interestingly enough, Sen. Villivalam comes out of SEIU Healthcare, which is apparently backing Rabbitt.