As a legislative area without an incumbent, the state's 84th House District centered around Aurora offers an opportunity for new blood to step into state government after the Nov. 6 general election.
The two candidates seeking to represent the newly drawn district are capitalizing on the opportunity to run for the open seat, but for different reasons.
Aurora resident Pat Fee, who long has been active in the Republican Party, said she is running because several lawmakers, including House GOP Leader Tom Cross, asked her to.
"They said 'OK, why don't you try practicing what you preach?'" Fee said during a recent endorsement interview with the Daily Herald. "I said 'Well, I never thought of this,' because I'm usually advocating for everyone else and helping everyone else. But I was asked."
Aurora alderman and substitute teacher Stephanie Kifowit is running as a Democrat and said she is looking to accomplish change on a broader level by working in state government.
"You realize there's so much more that can happen for the residents if the state just comes together and starts working together," Kifowit said during the endorsement interview.
Fee, 57, is a homemaker and community volunteer who serves as second vice president of the Illinois Federation of Republican Women and is involved with the United Way Speakers Bureau, Kiwanis Club and the parent board of Waubonsie Valley High School girls lacrosse.
"I see myself as a Republican who likes small government and less taxes," Fee said.
If elected, Fee said she sees her role as a defender of constituents' needs.
While she said she's willing to work with Democrats on pressing issues such as pension reform and repealing the income tax increase, Fee said bipartisanship is unlikely to occur under the leadership of House Speaker Michael Madigan. Running her campaign almost as much against Madigan as against Kifowit, Fee said "Michael Madigan needs to go. And until the day the man goes, (working together) is not going to happen."
Kifowit, 40, said her campaign is receiving support from the Democratic Party, but also said she plans to maintain the independent voting record she has established by voting for both Democratic and Republican candidates in past elections.
"I've been very independent on the city council and I intend to be independent on the state legislature," she said.
If Kifowit wins the election, she said her role will be that of an advocate for the community, focusing on creating jobs and balancing the state's budget. She is a Marine Corps veteran involved with several veterans organizations and helps coordinate Aurora events such as the Fourth of July parade and the annual Women's Power Lunch.
The 84th District covers parts of Aurora, Naperville, Montgomery, Oswego and Boulder Hill.