ANTIOCH – Republican State Rep. JoAnn Osmond is drawing criticism from a Democrat looking to succeed her for her decision to resign next week, half a year before her term expires.
Late last week, Osmond announced she would leave office Tuesday after more than a dozen years representing the 61st House District, which includes Antioch, Lindenhurst and part of Gurnee, among other towns. As of Wednesday, the phone number to her Antioch legislative office was disconnected.
Her expected replacement is Sheri Jesiel of Winthrop Harbor, who ran unopposed in the Republican primary in March.
In a news release this week, Democratic candidate Loren Karner, who also ran unopposed in his party's primary, said taxpayers should be outraged at the "politicians" scheme to provide his opponent with a taxpayer-funded salary in order to boost her political campaign."
Karner, also of Winthrop Harbor, said he objects to the "backroom deal" that will follow Osmond's "abrupt" resignation.
If Lake County Republican leaders appoint Jesiel as representative, as is widely expected, Karner said, "it will serve as an example of insider politics at its worst and a subversion of the democratic process."
"This simply provides Sheri Jesiel with a taxpayer-funded salary to campaign full time," he said in the release. He said he appreciated Osmond's "laudable" service to the community, but that her resignation was a "disservice" to her constituents.
Osmond decided last year that she wouldn't seek re-election. She told the Daily Herald that she was leaving early because her son planned to get married in September. She told the newspaper that her decision would "definitely" give an edge to Jesiel in the election.
In her years as a legislator, she rose to the rank of assistant Republican House leader.
Mike Amrozowicz, chairman of the Lake County Republican Central Committee, said he is new to his job, so he was becoming familiar with the party's process for appointing legislators. He said the precinct committeemen have a legislative committee that makes such decisions.
He disagreed with Karner's comments.
"This is not an insider thing," he said, adding that Republican voters select their precinct committeemen.
He said he didn't know the timeline for choosing Osmond's replacement.
If Jesiel is appointed, she won't see any legislative action until a lame-duck session after the November election, unless the governor or the legislature calls a special session. During the lame-duck session four years ago, majority Democrats approved a 67 percent increase in the state income tax.
Jesiel has worked as the business manager at Christ Community Church in Zion for the last 11 years. Karner is a project manager with Harvard-based Hartwig Plumbing and Heating.
Jesiel and Osmond didn't return messages for comment.