CHAMPAIGN — A former prosecutor in Champaign and Cook counties has entered the Democratic primary in the 103rd House District to succeed state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana.
Sam Rosenberg, a 28-year-old attorney with the Champaign law firm of Thomas, Mamer & Haughey, said Thursday he intends to join Champaign County Board member Michael Richards and Urbana City Council member Carol Ammons in the race to replace Jakobsson, a six-term Democrat who said she plans to retire from the Legislature in January 2015.
The only announced Republican candidate in the race is Kristin Williamson of Urbana, the vice chairwoman of the county's GOP.
The 103rd District includes almost all of Champaign and Urbana, and is considered heavily Democratic. Jakobsson won re-election last year over Republican Rob Meister, 69 percent to 31 percent.
A native of Glen Ellyn, Rosenberg said he has lived in Champaign-Urbana for more than six years. He has an undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago and a law degree from the University of Illinois. He has worked in both the Cook County state's attorney's office and the Champaign County state's attorney's office. In the latter, he said he prosecuted "everything from traffic to DUIs to domestic batteries" in two years on the staff.
Rosenberg is the youngest of the four young hopefuls in the race, who have an average age of 33.75 years. Ammons is 41, Richards is 34 and Williamson is 32. Jakobsson is 71.
"With Rep. Jakobsson announcing her retirement, I feel it's the perfect time to expand my public service," said Rosenberg. "I made a decision to stay in this community after graduation and am committed to its success."
He said he supports same-sex marriage, is pro-abortion rights and favors repealing the state parental notification law that requires physicians treating girls 17 and younger to notify a parent 48 hours before an abortion.
He said he favors expanded gambling in Illinois and supports putting a constitutional amendment for a progressive income tax on next year's general election ballot, but did not commit to voting for a progressive tax if it came before him as a legislator.
"I do believe the progressive income tax should be put on the ballot and left up to the voters of Illinois as to whether there should be this constitutional amendment," Rosenberg said. "But I don't think you can talk about (progressive income tax) legislation that hasn't been written yet."
He said that Illinois needs to "honor its commitments," indicating he meant both promises made to members of retirement systems and of funding for education.
"The responsibilities and commitments you make need to be upheld. If any human being was acting in the manner that the state of Illinois is doing, they'd be thrown in jail. It's about making promises that you can keep and following through on prior commitments.
"I'm talking about pensions, and I'm talking about funding for the university. If you promise the university hundreds of millions of dollars and you don't follow through on that, that's a problem. That's not an option of things to do. It's not Democrat or Republican, it's just simply the right thing to do."
Rosenberg said he is working part time at Thomas, Mamer and Haughey, and will take a leave of absence from the firm in January.
"There needs to be energy in this seat. This is a dynamic district. It has a tremendous amount of potential, and I think strong leadership will help it become even better," Rosenberg said.