Her campaign manager hopes to be her successor
URBANA — State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, announced Tuesday night that she will not run for a seventh term in 2014.
And Michael Richards, a Champaign County Board member who managed Jakobsson's last two campaigns, said he hopes to succeed her in the Illinois House.
"It has been an honor to serve this community, but it is also time for someone else to prepare for the next term beginning in 2015. I have made the decision to not seek re-election. It was not an easy decision," Jakobsson said in an email sent to supporters.
"There is still much to be done in the next year while finishing the term I am in and will continue to represent you until January 2015."
Richards followed Jakobsson's email with his own, saying that Jakobsson had asked him to run for the seat representing the 103rd District, which includes almost all of Champaign and Urbana.
"Representative Jakobsson has asked me to run for state representative," said Richards, a county board member from Champaign and a legislative liaison to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. "Whomever wins this seat will have big shoes to fill."
Richards said that Jakobsson "has not only stood up for our progressive values in Springfield, she has fought for the area's interests, successfully fighting for Health Alliance and securing funding for Lincoln Hall. Champaign-Urbana and the U of I are the innovation engine of Illinois, and we need to ensure we have leadership in Springfield that can continue to successfully advocate for our community."
It's not likely that Richards will be the only Democratic candidate for the House seat, and a number of Republicans also have been patiently waiting for the politically popular Jakobsson to retire.
Jakobsson's decision not to seek another term in the House means that it's possible that Champaign-Urbana could lose both of its veteran state legislators in 2015. State Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, is considering a run for the Democratic nomination for state treasurer.
Jakobsson, 71, spent 12 years as Champaign County recorder of deeds and worked as interim director of A Woman's Fund and executive director of the University YWCA before ousting state Rep. Tom Berns, an Urbana Republican, in 2002 by a 1,489-vote margin in 2002.
In 2004, she won a three-way race against Republican Deborah Frank Feinen and Socialist Equality candidate Thomas Mackaman. Mackaman got 1,466 votes, Feinen got 14,250 and Jakobsson received 25,700.
Last year, she easily defeated Champaign businessman Rob Meister, 69 percent to 31 percent.