Suburban faces will change at the Capitol
New governor, new roster at work today at the Capitol
As Gov. Bruce Rauner grapples with the opening days of his administration, most of the changes among the lawmakers he'll work with are on the Republican side of the Illinois House, where a handful of longtime suburban faces are leaving office today.
A large class of suburban Democrats was sworn in to the Illinois House and Senate two years ago, and this year they're back, giving the party massive advantages in both chambers.
Seniority matters in Springfield, and the length of a lawmaker's tenure governs everything from committee assignments to parking spaces. Plus, knowing the way around the building and how deal-making works at the Capitol can come with experience.
The new lawmakers will take their seats in pomp-laden ceremonies at the Capitol and University of Illinois Springfield campus today where both parties will pick their leadership teams.
For the Republicans, Rep. Darlene Senger of Naperville is out after a failed run for Congress and former House Republican Leader Tom Cross of Oswego is out after a failed run for state treasurer. Rep. Sandra Pihos of Glen Ellyn lost a primary and won't return. JoAnn Osmond of Antioch and Tim Schmitz of Batavia retired, and Rep. Dennis Reboletti of Elmhurst didn't run for re-election after he didn't change residences with the new political map.
Senger, who became a lead pension negotiator in a relatively brief six years in office, offered advice to the incoming rookies.
"Be realistic your first year," Senger said. "Listen and learn. Whatever your passion is, pursue that."
The Illinois Senate will start its first session without Republican Kirk Dillard since the early 1990s after his run for governor.
The only suburban Democrat who won't be sworn in again is Keith Farnham, who resigned last year after a child pornography sting at his home and office. Rep. Anna Moeller of Elgin will start a full term after being appointed to replace Farnham last year.
Some of the new faces won't be completely new, though. Because Osmond, Schmitz and Dillard stepped aside early, their replacements are already members of the House and Senate.
But Rep. Sheri Jesiel of Winthrop Harbor, Rep. Steve Andersson of Geneva and Sen. Chris Nybo of Elmhurst will see their first full terms start today.
Nybo starts his first term in the Senate after serving for a term in the House from 2011 to 2013. That means he'll have less of a learning curve going in, a period that can be "very challenging." Now, Nybo echoes other Republicans in looking forward to working under a Republican governor. "I want to be as helpful as I can," Nybo said.
Chrstine Winger of Wood Dale will replace Reboletti. And Republican Peter Breen, a former mayor of Lombard, and Grant Wehrli, a veteran of the Naperville City Council, say they'll bring knowledge of local government.
Breen said that a big freshman class among the House Republicans means they've got to get moving right after being sworn in. "All of us have to get up to speed quickly," he said.