Panel interviewing candidates for 60th state House seat

Updated 6/24/2010 1:23 PM

A three-member panel will meet Friday to interview about a dozen Democrats seeking to replace the late Eddie Washington as the 60th state House District's representative.

State Sen. Terry Link, leader of the Lake County Democratic Party, said he hopes to announce Washington's successor next week.

Link would confirm the identity of only one of the applicants: Angelo Kyle, a Lake County Board member from Waukegan who had twice unsuccessfully challenged Washington for the seat in Democratic primaries, most recently this past February.

"I think Angelo was an obvious name," Link said.

As for the other candidates, Link would say only that some are well-known faces in local politics and there are "one or two that I never even heard of."

Washington, of Waukegan, died June 5 of a heart attack. He was in his fourth term and was running for re-election.

The eventual appointee will be expected to run for election in November, Link said.

Link is on the three-member panel doing the interviews. The other two panelists are Waukegan Township Democratic precinct committeemen Dave Koss and Cynthia Alexander.

Although Washington was the first black politician from Lake County elected to the General Assembly, the person the panel chooses won't necessarily be black, Link said.

"(This is) an opportunity to find somebody we feel is the best representative for the district," Link said.

Whoever gets the appointment won't face a Republican on the Nov. 2 ballot. No Republicans ran in February's primary for the seat, and the GOP did not appoint anyone to run against Washington after the primary.

The Republican Party has no plans to slate a candidate now that Washington has died, local GOP chairman Bob Cook said.

"We're not doing anything for this November," Cook said. "We did look at some names and made some phone calls, but we just weren't comfortable knowing we would have someone competitive in the race."

The eventual Democratic nominee will have opposition on Nov. 2, however. North Chicago Alderman Valerie DeVost, a former Democrat who won re-election as an independent last year, will be on the ballot as an independent.

Washington defeated Republican Bill Anderson in 2008. The 60th District seat would be "very tough" for a Republican to win, Cook said.

With that in mind, Cook and other Republican leaders are looking ahead to the 2012 campaign season for a possible candidate to run in the 60th District. Cook believes a Republican with moderate views could be the right candidate in two years.

The 60th District includes parts of North Chicago, Waukegan and Park City.