WHEATON – In January, Wheaton city councilwoman Evelyn Pacino Sanguinetti will officially become lieutenant governor of Illinois under Republican governor-elect Bruce Rauner.
She is expected to resign from her position on the council before then, and when she does, she will be missed, her fellow councilmen say.
"I've sat next to her every Monday night for the last 3.5 years and we've become great friends," said West District councilman Todd Scalzo. "I'm going to be sorry to see her leave."
Scalzo said Sanguinetti's absence will be bittersweet, and that his pride is mixed with sadness that the city will lose the energetic councilwoman, whose personality shone best in private.
"She's very smart, very bright, so she was a great councilwoman to have," he said. "I also think her training as a lawyer served her very well as far as balancing competing interests on a lot of the policy decisions the council had to make."
Scalzo cited the local effects of pension reform, Motor Fuel Tax use and Senate Bill 16 as areas where her municipal experience could add perspective at the state level.
Sanguinetti's fellow at-large councilman, John Prendiville, said her enthusiasm and political background could mean good things, not only for Chicago suburbs such as Wheaton, but for local governments throughout the state.
"She has great sympathy for the issues that we face, and given her experience on the council, she will be able to provide some very intelligent input," he said.
Prendiville said he hadn't been able to speak to her as of Friday, but did send her a congratulatory text. Sanguinetti has been named to lead Rauner's transition team.
"I know she is extremely busy right now," Prendiville said.
Wheaton Mayor Mike Gresk said Sanguinetti will join Republican state Rep. Jeanne Ives, R – Wheaton, in Springfield as a former city councilwoman who went on to higher office. The two were elected to the council in 2011 and served together before Ives ran for her current position in 2012 and again in 2014.
"I'm obviously happy for her," Gresk said. "It's a good move for her and is obviously an opportunity for her to grow and develop and impact our future here in Illinois. I wish her the best of luck."
The city will have 60 days to appoint a replacement for Sanguinetti once she tenders her resignation, Prendiville said. The appointee will serve the remainder of her term, through May 2015.
"Hopefully we will find someone with a lot of experience and knowledge," he said. "We want someone similar to Evelyn to run for that spot ... people who are interested and want to spend the time to understand the issues, so we can all work together to keep the city in the great standing it is in."
What's next for the Wheaton City Council?
When Sanguinetti tenders her resignation to the council, the city will have 60 days to fill her seat, according to Clerk Sharon Barrett-Hagen. The city will send out a notice seeking applicants, including requirements for the at-large position. Mayor Mike Gresk, with the approval of the council, will decide Sanguinetti's successor for the remainder of the term, which ends in May 2015.
The city also announced it would begin accepting nonpartisan petitions for candidacy for Sanguinetti's position post-May 2015, as well as for another at-large council member and for mayor, starting Nov. 17, according to a city news release. The petition acceptance period will last through Nov. 24, excluding weekend days and holidays. If necessary, candidates would then run in the consolidated primary election Feb. 24, 2015, before the general election April 7, 2015.