Sheri Jesiel said she is looking to head to Springfield to help fix a state that is "broken."
Jesiel, a Republican from Winthrop Harbor, was sworn in Wednesday by Lake County Chief Judge John Phillips to represent the state's 61st House District. She replaced longtime Republican state Rep. JoAnn Osmond, who officially retired Tuesday night.
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Jesiel said she is looking forward to serving residents, and that her first goal is to review the "serious shape" the state is in.
"We know the state is broken," she said. "All areas of the state have critical needs and is in need of our attention."
Her Democratic opponent, Loren Karner, could not be reached for comment Wednesday about the appointment.
Osmond announced last year she would not seek re-election in November. She said she pushed up the date of her retirement to July 2 for family reasons.
She said it is the first time in 20 years an Osmond was not on a ballot. Osmond took over the seat after the death of her husband, Tim.
"I wanted to separate the legislature from my family," she said during a phone interview. "It really is the best time to do it. It's a good time for her to get up to speed and get her feet wet before the next legislative session, and I can spend time with my family before my son gets married in September."
Osmond said she and Jesiel have similar views on many issues, and added Jesiel would "do great" in Springfield.
Last month, when Osmond announced her decision to resign early, she acknowledged it would give an edge to Jesiel in the November election.
Soon after, Karner, also of Winthrop Harbor, released a statement calling the move "backroom politics."
"This simply provides Sheri Jesiel with a taxpayer-funded salary to campaign full-time," Karner said. "Local taxpayers deserve to choose their representative for themselves, not be forced to stomach the result of backroom deals. While I appreciate Rep. Osmond's laudable service to our community, this action is a disservice to the very constituents she represents."
Both candidates ran unopposed in partisan primary elections this year.
Jesiel said the appointment will not change the way she has been working since announcing she would run for the 61st District seat.
"I was already meeting with people, so even though I'm appointed early, I'll still be going door-to-door to speak with residents," she said.
The 61st District covers all of Winthrop Harbor, Zion, Newport Township, Wadsworth and Old Mill Creek, and parts of Gurnee, Antioch, Lake Villa and Lindenhurst.