Illinois Elects First Gay Black State Senator

Mike Simmons / Image via Facebook

Congratulations to Mike Simmons and the citizens of Illinois.

Mike Simmons was sworn in as Illinois’ newest state senator this past Saturday night, February 6, according to Block Club Chicago. This makes him the first openly gay Black state senator. Simmons was elected to fill the seat left by Sen. Heather Steans after her resignation.

After being sworn into office in Andersonville, Simmons said that he was “honored to have gone through this process.”

“I promise to work hard, I promise to be really progressive and I’m just looking forward to doing the work for our community,” he said before adding. “While I don’t look like anyone this district has ever had as a legislator, I certainly look like tens of thousands of people who live here. Proudly Black, proudly gay, proudly the son of an immigrant.”

Prior to running for office, Mike Simmons worked as the deputy director of the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance and was the former policy director in Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration. Now that he’s in office, Simmons says he plans to introduce pieces of legislation that focus on fixing “health disparity” and “chronic economic disparity.”

Simmons’ win is considered a surprise by political experts, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. His opponent Rep. Kelly Cassidy, who is also LGBTQ, was considered a frontrunner for the position. However, Simmons received nearly three times the number of votes that Cassidy did.

After the election’s results were announced, Simmons and Cassidy talked over the phone. Simmons told reports that he considers Cassidy a friend for 12 years.

“We have a great deal of respect for each other,” Simmons said. “I really am excited to partner with her and [House Majority] Leader Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and bring outstanding representation” to the district.”


Source: Block Club Chicago, Chicago Sun-Times,

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