Rita Mayfield, a relative newcomer to government with just three years as a school board member on her resume, is the new state representative for the 60th District.
Mayfield, of Waukegan, was sworn in at noon Tuesday in a Waukegan law office. She replaces Democrat State Rep. Eddie Washington, who died of a heart attack June 5. Mayfield will complete Washington's term and be up for election in November.
"I believe Rita will bring a fresh new approach to the legislature," said State Sen. Terry Link, who is also the Democratic Party chairman for Lake County.
"She is young and energetic," Link said. "She is not a person who will line up with this faction or the other faction."
Mayfield said her involvement in politics was spurred by her dissatisfaction with the Waukegan Public School District 60 board a few years ago, which led her to form a citizens group and then to her election.
"I wanted fiscal accountability and transparency in the school board," Mayfield said. "It is the same thing I will work to promote in the state legislature."
Other areas Mayfield said she was interested in working on in the legislature included job creation, increasing education funding and alternative energy.
"We need to develop a marketing package for this area to show businesses what the Waukegan, North Chicago and Park City area has to offer," Mayfield said. "We have an energetic, willing work force in District 60 with a wealth of experience."
Link said the choice of Mayfield was "a difficult one," given the qualifications of the close to a dozen candidates who applied for the job.
He said he and the other members of the selection committee, precinct committeemen David Koss and Cynthia Alexander, ultimately chose Mayfield unanimously.
"Rita was on everyone's shortlist," Link said. "We liked the way she handled the school board issues in that she did not like and she went out and changed the mindset."
No Republican has filed to oppose Mayfield in the November election, but she will face a challenge from North Chicago alderman Valerie DeVost who is running as an independent.
Mayfield was sworn in and introduced to the press in the law offices of Douglas Roberts, the Democrat opposing Republican Sheriff Mark Curran for election this fall.