Pritzker picks Costello to lead Illinois Department of Agriculture

Gov. J.B. Pritzker appointed former state lawmaker Jerry Costello to serve as the director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Pritzker announced the appointment, which requires confirmation by the Illinois Senate, on Friday.

“With farming playing an important role in his family’s history and a career of public service, there’s no better person to lead the Illinois Department of Agriculture at this time than Jerry Costello,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement Friday. “Our agriculture sector drives our state’s economy to the tune of $19 billion every year, and I’m confident that Jerry’s deep experience will bring a steady hand to the department and continue the impressive growth of this vital industry.”

Costello, a Democrat, served in the Illinois House of Representatives from 2011 to 2019. He had said he would oppose a progressive income tax before Pritzker named him Director of Law Enforcement for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

“I’m honored to continue serving the people of Illinois and excited to take the helm at the department I once oversaw in the state legislature,” Costello said in a statement. “As a leading producer of soybeans, corn and swine, Illinois is home to the most dedicated farmers in the world, and I look forward to partnering with them to grow our state’s agricultural economy.”

The Illinois Department of Agriculture’s previous leader, John Sullivan, left amid fallout from an email scandal.

Pritzker fired Sullivan for failing to take action regarding a lobbyist’s 2012 email that mentioned a rape in Champaign and ghost payroll practices. The governor’s office said that Sullivan, as a state senator in 2012, knew about the email, but did nothing about it. Sullivan said he never read the entire email while running for election and dealing with health issues. The allegations were at the end of the email.

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