Dems want to replace Connor by Friday

43rd District state senate seat open after sudden resignation

Election 2024
John Connor, Illinois Senate 43rd District, speaks about the Rebuild Illinois project and more specifically the extension of Houbolt Road at a press conference held at Joliet Junior College. Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 in Joliet.

Democrats hope to have a substitute state senator in place in the 43rd District by Friday.

But as of early Tuesday afternoon, no one had applied for the seat vacated by John Connor, Will County Democratic Central Committee Chairman Burke Schuster said.

“I’m currently taking applications from any Democrat who lives in the 43rd District as it is now,” Schuster said Tuesday.

The deadline to apply is noon Wednesday. If no one has applied by then, Schuster said he was not sure what he would do but expected to extend the process.

Connor, who is not running for reelection, announced late Friday afternoon that he was vacating his seat effective immediately because of the need to take care of a family member over the next three months.

The sudden resignation came just two months before the June 28 primary for the 43rd District senate seat, sparking some concern that one of the two Democratic candidates would be picked to replace Connor and gain advantage in the primary election.

Will County Progressive leaders put out a statement Sunday urging Democrats to wait until the primary and put the winner in the seat or to put in someone not seeking election.

The two candidates are Will County Board Member Rachel Ventura, who is aligned with the Progressives, and Eric Mattson, a Joliet firefighter. Progressives contend Mattson is favored by the party and could be appointed to fill Connor’s seat.

2022 election, rachel ventura, eric mattson

Burke said he cannot wait until the primary because state law requires the vacancy to be filled in 30 days.

“We need a senator who can hit the ground running on Day One,” he said. “This is an open, transparent process.”

Applicants will be interviewed by five precinct committeeman from the various townships in the 43rd District as well as by Schuster and DuPage County Democratic Party Chairman Ken Mejia-Beal. Schuster and Mejia-Beal will choose the candidate with advice from the panel of committeemen.

Schuster said the process has been “tried and tested” previously to fill vacancies in the legislature.

Schuster would not rule out selection of one of the primary candidates and said, “I don’t think there’s an advantage to anyone in this little time (before the primary).”

Connor while now out of the legislature remains a candidate for Will County Judge in the Democratic primary for the 12th Circuit with no opponent. Judge Arkadiusz “Art” Smigielski is running in the Republican primary.

There are two candidates in the Republican primary for the 43rd District state senate seat: Michelle Lee and Diane Harris.