The incumbent in the state's 77th House District, Angelo "Skip" Saviano, isn't taking his challenger lightly.
The Elmwood Park Republican, who has been a state representative since 1992, said he has been campaigning and meeting elected officials in the new areas of his redrawn district for the past year in preparation for the Nov. 6 election.
Saviano is facing Kathleen Willis of Addison, who is running as a Democrat despite pulling Republican ballots in five primary elections between 2002 and 2010, according to her certified voter record from the DuPage County Election Commission.
Despite Willis' apparent change of party loyalties, Saviano said he is "not taking anything for granted."
"I've dedicated myself to this election because I'm not going to let them take it," he said about Willis and organizations such as the Democratic Majority and Democratic Party of Illinois that are supporting her campaign, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections.
Willis did not respond to calls Tuesday and Wednesday.
Saviano, 54, will have to move to remain in the 77th District if he is re-elected, as his Elmwood Park home is no longer within its boundaries. The new 77th District includes all or parts of Addison, Bensenville, Franklin Park, unincorporated Leyden Township, Melrose Park, Northlake, Rosemont and Wood Dale.
About 35 percent of the district would be new territory for Saviano, with the majority of the new area in Addison, Bensenville and Wood Dale.
"In that respect, having a race is probably a good thing," said Saviano, who works full-time as a legislator. "It forced me to go ahead and make myself familiar with all of their issues. Addison, Wood Dale, Bensenville: they have accepted me with open arms."
Saviano said he is familiar with Bensenville issues because the old 77th District included a few precincts in the village. He said he helped Bensenville Elementary District 2 get millions in grants for new schools and he is continuing to work on an overpass at Irving Park and York roads.
He said he is prepared to assist Wood Dale in applying for Illinois Environmental Protection Agency grants for an overhaul of its water filtration system and is in contact about twice a month with mayors, school superintendents and park district leaders in the municipalities in his district.
"I've always had a regimented way of communicating with the local governments in my district," Saviano said. "I've jumped in with both feet in those new areas. I'm quite familiar with my old areas and what their needs are."