State Rep. Celina Villanueva files to replace Martin Sandoval in state Senate

State Rep. Celina Villanueva files to replace Martin Sandoval in state Senate

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CHICAGO — Chicago Democratic state Rep. Celina Villanueva was the lone candidate to file petitions to replace embattled state Sen. Martin Sandoval, who announced last month he would resign from his Southwest Side seat.

Villanueva, who has represented the Southwest Side and suburban 21st House District since July 2018, filed petitions Monday with the State Board of Elections for a spot on the March 17 primary ballot. The deadline to challenge those petitions is 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16.

Sandoval, a Democrat who has served in the state Senate since 2003, submitted a resignation letter last month that said he would resign effective at 12:01 p.m. Jan. 1.

The Nov. 27 resignation letter came two months after federal agents raided Sandoval’s Springfield office, seizing electronics and documents in search of information involving lobbyists, a clout-heavy red light camera company and several suburban elected officials.

He resigned as chairman of the powerful Senate Transportation Committee in October amid a growing chorus of calls within his caucus for him to step aside. Sandoval did not return to Springfield for the legislature’s fall veto session and he has not responded to requests for comment since the September searches.

Democratic ward and township committeemen within the 11th District have 30 days after Sandoval’s resignation takes effect to name a replacement to fill the seat.

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The general election is Nov. 3. The State Board of Elections will certify those results in early December, and the winner will then be sworn in to serve out the rest of Sandoval’s term, which expires in January 2023.

“It is long past time for ethical, principled, progressive leadership to fight for the working families of the 11th District,” Villanueva said in a statement last week announcing she was considering a run for the Senate seat.

Before taking office last year, Villanueva was a civic and youth engagement manager at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Edgar Gonzalez Jr. has filed petitions to run for Villanueva’s 21st House District seat.

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