ENGLEWOOD — Committeemen appointed Englewood’s Sonya Harper, 34, to fill the vacant 6th District House seat Tuesday night.
"We are getting a person who is a part of the community and one who has and will continue to give the residents a resounding voice," Ald. David Moore (17th) said on Facebook.
"I fully support this selection and I look forward to our continued work together in her new position."
Englewood and the entire South Side lost a “selfless advocate” for the community when the late Esther Golar (D-Chicago) died Sept. 21, supporters said. While in Springfield for a legislative session in September, Golar was taken to a hospital, according to the Tribune. She was later moved into hospice care, the paper said.
Golar had represented the 6th District since she was first elected on Nov. 7, 2006. She had lived in New City since 1983.
After Harper was appointed, she signed the “Esther Golar Pledge” to support Senate Bill 570, which would restore funding and bring back the original eligibility requirements to the Child Care Assistance Program. The cuts have excluded an estimated 15,000 families from the program, according to SEIU Healthcare Illinois. The changes were made by Gov. Rauner’s administration on July 1.
The Department of Human Services says that under the new requirements to the program, an applicant must fit into one of the four groups: 1) a Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) recipient; 2) a teen parent enrolled full-time in high school or GED classes; 3) from a family with a special needs child or 4) a working family with a monthly income of up to 50 percent of the federal poverty level. In the past the program helped parents with incomes at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level.
According to Illinois Action for Children childcare assistance will be denied for 90 percent of new applicants, who would have been eligible under the former requirements.
Voting for SB570 was Golar’s last legislative act before her death. Harper vows to continue the legacy of fighting for children when the bill comes to the House Nov. 10.
“In an act of total bravery and at great risk to herself, Representative Golar came to Springfield to defy Gov. Bruce Rauner and stand up for the people of the 6th District,” Harper said in a statement. “Her very last vote was to reverse his cruel cuts to child care, which do not solve our budget crisis but do harm our economy and hurt working families.”
“I have pledged to honor Representative Golar’s legacy and, on November 10th, I hope to join my new colleagues in voting to roll back the Rauner rules which are causing needless devastation to vulnerable residents of the 6th District and across all Illinois.”
The primary election is March 15, 2016, followed by the general election in November 2016. Harper will serve as State Representative until January 2017.
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