Sen. Toi Hutchinson

Former State Sen. Toi Hutchinson

KANKAKEE — Just days after Sen. Toi Hutchinson’s resignation, local Democrats are poised to name her replacement.

On Friday night, Democratic leaders in Hutchinson’s 40th District will meet to organize a nominating committee and pick a “qualified person” for the position, said John Willard, chairman of the Kankakee County Democratic Party, in a news release Monday.

Willard encouraged those interested in the position to submit their resumes and biographies to their respective party chairmen before the meeting. Or they can submit them there.

The Democratic Party has kept secret the names of the four candidates thus far for the position. The Daily Journal has reported the names of three entrants — Kankakee County farmer Patrick Joyce, Chicago Heights City Clerk Lori Wilcox and Monica Gordon, executive director of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation.

On Thursday, Willard confirmed Marta Perales is another applicant. Her Facebook page states she is from Hazel Crest in the south suburbs, but she now lives in Momence.

Perales already has a campaign website. She said she is the only applicant who has worked on legislation that affects metropolitan planning organizations and mass transit reform.

She is the communications secretary for the Kankakee County Democratic Party. She said she has worked to recruit a diverse set of County Board candidates. She herself ran for County Board last year, losing to Republican Colton Ekhoff.

The meeting is at 5 p.m. Friday in the Iroquois Room at Kankakee Community College, 100 College Drive, Kankakee.

The nominating committee will be the chairs of the Democratic committees of Kankakee, Grundy and Will counties and Democratic committee persons of Bloom and Rich townships in Cook County.

Asked why the meeting was being held on a Friday night, Willard said the Democrats needed to make a decision in time for when the Senate returns on Nov. 12. He said the party leaders could not meet on Saturday because county chairmen are in Springfield for a meeting and that Sunday was not an option.

Willard said Friday’s meeting is public, but constituents will be barred from asking the candidates questions.

Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, resigned over the weekend after a decade in the state Senate. She is taking a $220,000 job in Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration coordinating the state’s recreational marijuana efforts.

Traditionally, the process of filling legislative vacancies involves secrecy and behind-the-scenes deal-making.

Shortly after Hutchinson announced her resignation in late September, both Kankakee Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong and former state Rep. Lisa Dugan, D-Bradley, said they would not apply for the position.

However, Rep. Anthony DeLuca, D-Chicago Heights, initially said he was interested in the Senate seat. His 80th District makes up half of Hutchinson’s district; the other half is Kankakee Republican Lindsay Parkhurst’s 79th.

DeLuca later backed off, saying he would focus on running for re-election.

The 40th District is a blend of suburbs and downstate.

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