Lawmakers push for transparency after ‘stupid situation’ filling Madigan’s vacant seat for second time in days

(The Center Square) – Former Illinois House Speaker Micheal Madigan on Thursday picked a second replacement for a seat he vacated just last week. As he did with his first replacement, selected Sunday, Madigan didn’t ask any questions of the second person he selected, Angie Guerrero-Cuellar.

Some are calling for the process to be more transparent.

When a lawmaker resigns before the end of their term, political officials, not voters, fill the vacancy. Guerrero-Cuellar finished second in Sunday’s voting process, but with a weighted vote, Madigan didn’t need any other support to pick his second replacement.

Madigan’s first replacement, Edward Guerra Kodatt, resigned Wednesday after Madigan said there was “alleged questionable conduct.”

“I don’t plan to speak to the background questions,” Madigan said Thursday. “The proper questions were asked.”

The former longtime House Speaker didn’t ask Kodatt any questions publicly Sunday either. Some in the media asked if there should have been more public vetting.

“His name was put out in advance like everybody else, there was a complete circulation of resumes,” Madigan said. “Every resume that was submitted was circulated.”

But the names weren’t circulated until just before the selection Sunday, giving little time for a vetting of the candidates.

Madigan’s weighted vote Thursday went to select Guerrero-Cuellar to be the new representative for the 22nd House District.

“I just met him this morning,” Guerrero-Cuellar said Thursday. “I hadn’t met him personally before.”

State Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, who himself was appointed to his seat following a vacancy in 2015, said there needs to be more transparency in the process following the “stupid situation with Madigan’s seat.” He supports state Rep. Kelly Cassidy’s House Bill 3828.

“It sets up a process to make sure that people can apply and there’s public transparency and people have input, and there’s a meeting open to the public that happens, and things like this,” Butler told WMAY.

Cassidy, D-Chicago, said her bill could bring about needed changes and transparency.

“It sets a basic framework of transparency and engagement for the republic to have a little bit more confidence in this process that is understandably suspect to them,” Cassidy said.

Cassidy herself was in the running to fill the recent vacancy created by former state Sen. Heather Steans’ resignation. She said from that experience, she continues to fine tune her bill.

“Not only should you not vote for your own replacement, you probably shouldn’t be able to vote for yourself,” Cassidy said.

She recused herself from having a vote in the local party organization’s selection to fill Steans seat. That selection went to state Sen. Mike Simmons, D-Chicago.

There are other looming vacancies at the statehouse, and Cassidy said more could pop up following the remapping of political boundaries expected later this year.

“I think it’s very timely to get this on a much better footing moving forward,” Cassidy said.

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