Fresh from a historic impeachment trial that resulted in the conviction of former governor Rod Blagojevich, state senators Don Harmon and Kimberly Lightford are poised to assume leadership posts in the Illinois Senate.
Harmon confirmed last Friday that he is one of four new assistant majority leaders named by Senate President John Cullerton. Lightford is also among the new assistant majority leaders. She’s been a state senator since 1998. Harmon and Lightford join Northwest Side Senator James DeLeo and West Side Senator Rickey Hendon in the assistant ranks. While he has no specific jurisdiction over policy issues, Harmon said he’d be in regular contact with Cullerton and other legislative leaders, as well as new Gov. Patrick Quinn.
“Next week is going to be the beginning of a new round of work,” said Harmon about the issues facing the state and General Assembly. “We have incredible challenges ahead of us. I think we’re now ready to tackle them.”
Among them, he noted, are a multibillion-dollar deficit while facing the worst economy in 80 years. Two central and immediate challenges demanding attention, he said, were, “The operation budget. The state needs to pay its bills.” Equally important, he added, is a long overdue capital infrastructure program for bridges, roads and schools.
Harmon characterized the last seven weeks spent dealing with impeachment as “distracting.” Lost in the news maelstrom surrounding Blagojevich was Harmon’s ascension to the Senate leadership.
He seemed anxious to put the past seven weeks behind him. Asked last Friday what he might have to say to former governor Blagojevich should their paths ever cross, Harmon replied: “I think the senate spoke its piece yesterday.”