Edgeville Buzz

Michael Simmons Becomes First Openly Gay Illinois Senator, First Person of Color To Represent The District

In a huge blow to to Rep. Kelly Cassidy who was once considered the frontrunner, Northside Democrats chose Michael Simmons to fill Sen. Heather Steans vacant seat. He will become the first openly gay Illinois senator and the first person of color to represent the far Northside lakefront area.

He was officially sworn in at the Swedish American Museum on Saturday evening. Though new as a politician, Simmons brings with him a wealth of experience working within politics. He was the former policy director under Mayor Rahm Emanuel as well as the Deputy Commissioner in the city’s Department of Planning and Development.

As American politics shift towards a more diverse representation of the country, Simmons will add a fresh voice to the Illinois Senate. Being a lifelong resident of the area that he now represents, he acknowledged the historic appointment on Zoom. In a powerful statement Simmons said,”While I don’t look like anyone this district has ever had as a legislator, I certainly look like tens of thousands of people who live here.”

Edgewater Ald. Harry Osterman (48th Ward) along with several other Democratic committeepeople each put their full support behind Simmons who eventually earned 67,516 weighted votes. With 45,006 votes needed to win, Rep. Kelly Cassidy received only 22,493 weighted votes.

Simmons is an entrepreneur, public policy expert, and activist that has worked to achieve equity for all people. He is also founder of Blue Sky Strategies, an organization that specializes in equitable urban planning, youth empowerment, government accountability, and anti-racist public policy. Most recently, Blue Sky worked alongside the Obama Foundation on the My Brother’s Keeper action plan in order to address the challenges faced by boys and young men of color.


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