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New Dem Stava-Murray "Present" on House Speaker Vote

Sam Dunklau
NPR Illinois 91.9 FM
Democratic Rep. Anne Stava-Murray of Naperville, center, just before the House Speaker vote at the Illinois House Inauguration Ceremony on Jan. 9.

The new Illinois House of Representatives was sworn in Wednesday at a ceremony in Springfield, and longtime Speaker of the House Michael Madigan was elected to his 18th term in that post. But, one of the 74 newly sworn-in Democrats did not vote for Madigan.

That person was Anne Stava-Murray, a new representative from Naperville. She was one of the several Democrats who managed to flip what was once a safe Republican district. She's managed to stand out from the new legislative class by voting “present” when asked to vote for either Mike Madigan or Republican leader Jim Durkin for House Speaker.

Stava-Murray says voters in her district "factored into" her decision, since she campaigned on voting against Madigan. She says they did not support the longtime speaker's leadership in the House, though some of her colleagues were "hard-selling" a Madigan vote.

But it was primarily Madigan's stance on sexual harassment in the state legislature that drove Stava-Murray away. She says the Chicago Democrat hasn't done enough to combat what she calls “a culture of sexual assault and violence.” She also claims she's been harassed on several occasions by people working for Madigan since she was elected in November.

“When you have leaders who have to step down as a result of the "MeToo" movement, you’ve clearly been promoting people who display those aggressive behaviors," she said. "Whether or not you know, you’ve chosen to know or not know.”

Stava-Murray has said she'll be filing discrimination charges against Madigan with several legislative oversight offices.

Though Madigan remains House Speaker, the freshman Democrat says she’s willing to work with fellow lawmakers and Governor-elect JB Pritzker on what she calls “progressive issues,” like a graduated income tax and recreational marijuana.

Stava-Murray also recently announced she’s running for US Senate in 2020, against longtime Democratic incumbent Dick Durbin.

Sam is a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working out the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.
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