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Local News

Kifowit running for Illinois House Speaker against longtime speaker Madigan

Illinois state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Aurora, talks during a March 9, 2020 elected officials forum at Oswego Public Library.
Illinois state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Aurora, talks during a March 9, 2020 elected officials forum at Oswego Public Library.

UPDATED 7 P.M. THURSDAY, OCT. 1:

SPRINGFIELD – A Kendall County area Illinois state representative has announced her candidacy for Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives against Mike Madigan.

Illinois state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, announced she is running for the Democratic nomination for the seat on Thursday after a July deferred prosecution agreement for ComEd revealed Madigan as "Public Official A."

An investigation uncovered that ComEd took favorable legislation in exchange for jobs and contracts for associates of the "high-level elected official" later identified as Madigan.

Kifowit's announcement comes after she demanded Madigan "do the right thing" and immediately step down from his leadership position amid a federal investigation into the bribery scheme involving ComEd, in which Madigan has been implicated.

Kifowit said during her Thursday announcement she called for Madigan to step down because she felt that he compromised the integrity of the office and undermined public trust.

"And, to me, that's just not acceptable," Kifowit said.

When asked why she felt the need to run for the seat now, Kifowit said later Thursday afternoon, "I think, why not now?"

"I think the public needs to know that there are Democrats that believe in values such as integrity and trustworthiness and that I think it's time for the state to have new leadership that the people can trust," Kifowit said.

Kifowit said she believes she's one of the first representatives – if not the first – to challenge Madigan for the seat.

Kifowit said some good first steps in ethics reforms have been taken following the federal investigation, including updating the statement of economic interest and lobbying policies. She said she thinks it's important for public faith to be restored in Illinois government and she would plan on trying to do so by reaching out to constituents more and listen to their concerns more.

"I think there's a lot that needs to change and I think it's time for a change," Kifowit said.

Kifowit is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and a former substitute teacher for East Aurora School District 131. She also previously held a seat as an Aurora alderwoman.

Madigan was first elected speaker on Jan. 12, 1983. He currently is the longest serving leader of a state or federal legislative body in U.S. history.

• This story has been updated to include additional comment from Kifowit late Thursday afternoon.

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