Hernandez succeeds mentor Chapa LaVia as new 83rd District state Rep.
Residents of the 83rd state House District in the Aurora area have a new state representative: Barbara Hernandez.
Hernandez, 26, a Kane County Board member in District 8 and an Aurora native, was sworn in last week to succeed her mentor, Linda Chapa LaVia, who has been nominated by Gov. J.B. Pritzker to serve as director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs.
"I never imagined a daughter of first-generation immigrants could have made it this far," Hernandez wrote in a Facebook post accompanying a picture of her taking the oath of office from Kane County Judge Michael Noland.
Hernandez made her first foray into politics by interning in Chapa LaVia's office and soon considered the senior Latina a mentor, according to her biography on the Kane County Board's website. Hernandez has a bachelor's degree in political science with a minor in Spanish from Aurora University and has served as a precinct committeewoman, as a member of civic commissions in Aurora Township and the city of Aurora, and as a board member for the YWCA of Aurora.
The newly appointed Democrat's page on the Illinois General Assembly website has not yet been populated, except to list Hernandez as the holder of the 83rd District seat.
Chapa LaVia, meanwhile, became the first Latina and first female military veteran to preside over the Illinois House of Representatives last month after rising to the rank of assistant majority leader. She had served in the House since 2003 and was the first Latina outside Chicago to be elected.
Before Pritzker nominated Chapa LaVia, a 52-year-old Army veteran, to the Veterans' Affairs job, she had served as chairwoman of the House's Veterans Affairs Committee since 2009.