By John Gregory - Illinois Radio Network
The younger members of the General Assembly are forming a new group they hope will represent the viewpoint of millenials on the state's issues. The new Illinois Future Caucus is co-chaired by two of the youngest state legislators, State Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) and State Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago). The two readily admit they won't agree on some issues, but hope to offer a different perspective on issues like higher education, business regulations, and criminal justice.
"When you look at the General Assembly, we have members in their 70s, in their 60s, in their 50s, in their 40s," Demmer said. "Why shouldn't we have members in their 20s and their 30s, who bring a different generational perspective to issues?" Guzzardi was asked if the older legislators take the concerns of millennials seriously, and he responded by saying his constituents want younger people involved in state government. "The first time I ran, I was 24 years old. The only people who ever asked me if I was too young to run for office were inside baseball people, politicos," Guzzardi said.
"When I was going knocking on doors in my community, what people would always say is we need some young blood in there, we need some fresh ideas in there, we need new people in there." Guzzardi said there's no set age limit for joining the caucus, though he considers 40 to be the "ballpark range" for how old a lawmaker could be and still be a member. The caucus plans on working with similar groups in Congress and 11 other states.
Along with Guzzardi and Demmer, the caucus includes Avery Bourne (R-Raymond), Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria), Sonya Harper (D-Chicago), Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago), Silvana Tabares (D-Chicago), Art Turner (D-Chicago), Litesa Wallace (D-Rockford), Sara Wojcicki Jimenez (R-Springfield), and Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside).