Oak Park Democrat Don Harmon will be Illinois’ new President of the Senate. Harmon was selected after nearly 4 hours of closed door deliberations Sunday afternoon. Harmon will replace president John Cullerton, who announced his retirement in November. Cullerton had served since 2009. Harmon said that he would be using Cullerton’s principles of unity in the past as the Senate moves forward.
Harmon has been in the Illinois Senate since 2003 representing the 39th District. One of his primary legislative achievements was the “pre-school for all” program in 2006. Harmon beat out Senate Majority leader Kimberly Lightford in a unanimous vote in the second vote of the date after Harmon fell one vote short earlier in the day.
Harmon has vowed to clean up ethics reform despite being tied to documents seized in ousted Senator Martin Sandoval’s office as well as having ties to lobbyist Frank Cortese. Cortese has close affiliations with convicted Teamsters boss John Coli. Harmon’s law firm Burke, Burns, & Pinelli has also made significant donations to Michael Madigan’s campaigns over the years. Despite the ties to the ongoing corruption probe in the state, Harmon said he hopes to bring the Senate together.
Harmon will now likely oversee important votes on redistricting the state, ethics reforms, as well as crucial votes on gun ownership in the months ahead.