Democratic Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker picks Arlington Heights Republican for administration
While Republican state Rep. David Harris of Arlington Heights is retiring from that post next month, he's expected to remain in Springfield as part of Democratic Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker's administration.
Pritzker's office announced Thursday that Harris has been selected to serve as director of the Illinois Department of Revenue. The Illinois Senate will consider confirming the appointments of Harris and others for top positions after Pritzker takes office Jan. 14.
Harris, who began his second stint in the House in 2011, will leave the post on Jan. 9 when the new General Assembly is sworn in. He said Pritizker's decision to have him head the Department of Revenue is a positive sign for state government.
"The governor-elect really wants to build a bipartisan administration," Harris said, recalling that Barack Obama as president-elect reached out to retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood of downstate Illinois in 2008 and selected him as transportation secretary.
He added he hoped his management experience as chief of staff for the U.S. State Department Iraq Reconstruction Office and as Illinois adjutant general would be helpful in running an agency with 1,500 employees and a $55 million budget.
Harris was first elected as a state representative in 1983 and served 10 years. In a roughly combined 18 years in the General Assembly, Harris was a member of the House revenue committee and developed expertise on budget issues.
Other Pritzker appointments announced Thursday were Ann Spillane as general counsel in the governor's office, former Democratic state Sen. John Sullivan as Illinois Department of Agriculture director and Sean Rapelyea, who was Hillary Clinton's Illinois political director in 2016, as deputy chief of staff for external affairs in the governor's office.
Harris, an Army veteran who served in uniform for 33 years and retired as a major general in 2003, said he expects other Republicans to join him as part of Pritzker's administration to help take "a positive approach to face challenges."
• Daily Herald staff writer Marni Pyke contributed to this report.