Interest rising in soon-to-be vacant state House seat
By Susan DeMar Lafferty firstname.lastname@example.org October 9, 2013 6:26PM
Updated: November 11, 2013 12:26PM
Orland Park village Trustee Jim Dodge said Wednesday he is “absolutely interested” in running for the seat being vacated by state Rep. Renee Kosel (R-New Lenox).
Dodge, former Orland Township Republican committeeman, said he’s received several calls of encouragement.
“I’ve always been interested in this kind of public service and will make my decision in the near future,” said Dodge, who was considered for the spot 18 years ago when Kosel was appointed to replace the resigning Larry Wennlund. “I am taking a very close look at putting everything into place and at what it would take to enter the race and win it.”
Kosel announced last week she will retire at the end of her current term, after serving 18 years. The next day, Will County board member and Frankfort Republican Margo McDermed declared her candidacy.
Will County Republican Party chairman and McDermed’s husband, Ed Ronkowski, said there is a “lot of interest.” The election is Nov. 4, 2014.
“A lot of elected officials want someone as good as Renee,” Ronkowski said. “She has done an outstanding job and represented the views of her district. A replacement will be hard to find.”
Dodge has been an Orland Park trustee since 1986 and has an MBA from the University of Chicago in economics and finance. Given the state’s “financial mess,” he said he believes he could be a “positive force.”
“A couple of other people were interested, but they will support Margo,” he said. “They said if she runs, they will not run.”
Both Will County Democratic Party chairman Scott Pyles and Orland Township Democratic committeeman Dan McLaughlin said they were not aware of any potential candidates.
“We hope to have a strong Democratic candidate and have a chance to hold that seat for the first time in decades, but no one is pounding on my door yet,” Pyles said.
He ran against Kosel in 1998, when a significant portion of the district was in Cook County. But those parts of the district have been taken out, including Rich Township, Matteson, Orland Hills, parts of Orland Park and Homer Glen, he said.
He described the 37th district as a Republican “island” surrounded by districts held by Democratic legislators.
“We need a conservative Democrat who has deep ties to the community and has the energy to do what it takes, to knock on doors and meet people,” Pyles said. “We are making inroads in Will County, but some areas we need to work on.”
He commended Kosel for resigning now and letting the political process pick the candidate.
Other Democrats also were complimentary to Kosel.
“Democrats could never crack New Lenox. She was well-liked in the Lincolnway area. She stood out. She broke party lines. She’s done a good job and has served her community well,” said Tim Gaffney, former Will County Democratic Party chairman. “She’s doing the right thing. It’s time to move on.”
“It will be very interesting, but it is still early in the process,” Liz Gorman, Orland Township Republican committeeman said, adding that no one has contacted her about running. “Every one is focused more on the governor’s race. That’s a priority. This race (for Kosel’s seat) will be a back burner.”