SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR)– Lawmakers are back to work in Springfield.
Many of them are returning members but there are some new faces representing the state.
Since this time last year, 10 Democratic seats in the General Assembly have changed. It’s the first time around for some.
“I am the youngest member, I’m fresh out of the oven and I’m ready to get to work,” Representative Edgar Gonzalez Jr. told fellow House members. “This is a huge change. I mean, I just graduated from college in May. I started working with my congressman right after that. Just this past month, I am now a representative so I could not have imagined this. I have a lot of good people behind me and I am happy I am able to be in such a position.”
Gonzalez Jr. is a Harvard graduate who will now take over the seat held by representative turned senator Celina Villanueva. Villanueva did not move up to the Senate on the best conditions. She is taking over the seat held by former Chicago senator Martin Sandoval who pleaded guilty in a bribery scheme.
“I’m more than happy to have taken up the mantle for the people in the 11th district but I am infuriated by the circumstances with which we got here,” said Villanueva. “I’m a person that is about good government and about transparency and about making sure the government works for the people and by the people. What he did was disgusting and disheartening.”
She is not the only one taking over for a disgraced lawmaker. New representative Eva Dina-Delgado replaces former representative Luis Arroyo who was also charged with bribery. Dina-Delgado said she is not focused on what happened before she got to Springfield.
“I am somebody who holds myself to an incredibly high ethical standard. If you look at my qualifications and my background I think it will be very clear that I am doing this for the right reasons and it’s not about me, it’s about my community. That’s the most important thing to me,” Dina-Delgado said.
Representative Gonzalez is one of the youngest state representatives ever at only 23 years-old. Many of the new members are women and from different ethnic backgrounds, ushering in more diversity with the new decade.