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Bernard Schoenburg

Mapes out, Mitchell in as interim director of state Democratic Party

Chicago lawmaker first wave of new, younger leadership

Chicago lawmaker first wave of new, younger leadership

State Rep. Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago, last week was named interim executive director of the Democratic Party of Illinois, replacing Tim Mapes, who resigned last month after an employee accused him of mishandling complaints of sexual harassment.

The party’s search committee said in an announcement that Mitchell is the first African-American to serve in the role.

“As a community organizer, Christian is part of a new generation of leaders who know how to build grassroots movements and win campaigns,” said search committee co-chair and state Rep. Juliana Stratton of Chicago, who is also her party’s candidate for lieutenant governor.

“As a state representative, Christian was critical in the fight to pass ERA (the Equal Rights Amendment) and has a strong record of protecting a women’s right to choose, standing up for our working families, and building a more inclusive economy.”

A state representative since 2013, Mitchell earlier was Midwest director of paid media and polling for Obama for America, senior adviser for U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s Senate campaign, director of external affairs for Cook County government, and a community organizer on Chicago’s south side.

“I look forward to doing the work necessary to assure Democratic victories up and down the ticket and charting a new and inclusive path for our party,” Mitchell said in a statement.

“Together, I know we can build a party that represents the diversity of our state, listens to our young people, and relentlessly fights for the values that make Illinois strong.”

The all-woman search committee said that following the November election, it will continue seeking a permanent executive director. The committee statement also said Mitchell’s selection had the support of House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, who chairs the party, as well as the gubernatorial campaign of J.B. Pritzker and other Democratic leaders across the state.

Mitchell said in his statement that his first action as interim executive director was to launch a $1 million voter registration initiative in partnership with the Pritzker campaign. He said the initiative “will help us reach voters in districts where a strong Democratic turnout from new or unregistered voters could flip seats and lead Democrats to victory up and down the ballot.”

Mapes stepped down in June from the party post, as well as state jobs as House clerk and chief of staff to the speaker, after an account technician for the House, Sherri Garrett, said he had made sexually laced comments to her at least twice and joked about sexual-harassment training. She said the incidents occurred since 2013.

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