SPRINGFIELD (ILLINOIS CAPITOL BUREAU) -- Gov. JB Pritzker asked for one thing for his birthday: A new Senate President. After nearly five hours of negotiating within the Senate Democratic caucus, his wish came true. Sen. Don Harmon (D-IL) 39th District is the new leader of the chamber.
Pritzker joined Senators in the chamber as Senate President John Cullerton (D-IL) 6th District resigned from his post. The election was his last action before retiring from the legislature.
"I have enjoyed working with all of you, Republicans and Democrats alike. We have accomplished a great deal together," Cullerton said. "Now it's time for me to move on. My grandchildren await and I look forward to seeing what all of you will do next."
Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-IL) 4th District was the first to nominate Sen. Harmon on the floor, conceding her chance to become the state's first female Senate President. Lightford was a top candidate for the role in the weeks leading up the vote. Harmon and Lightford have covered neighboring districts since 2002.
"I can't think of anyone else who would do a wonderful job leading our caucus," said Lightford.
"I want to express my gratitude to Senator Lightford for her commitment to partner with me and to heal whatever rough edges may have emerged during the contest," Harmon said.
Lightford will stay in her role as the Senate Majority Leader. Harmon says the chamber is a collection of diverse views and experiences, but a consistent purpose- to represent their constituents.
"And now the work begins in earnest. I look forward to joining together with Governor Pritzker and the leaders in both chambers as we work to change the trajectory of our state and set a better course for our future," said Harmon.
The Oak Park Democrat also promised to work on addressing property taxes and government ethics.
The Senate will have a short break before lawmakers from both chambers return for the start of session on January 28.