State Rep. André Thapedi (D-Chicago) is set to resign from his seat in the Illinois House after 12 years, he told NPR Illinois on Sunday.
Thapedi, who has served as representative for the 32nd District since 2009, said he wants to take an active role in searching for a replacement for his seat. The 32nd District stretches westward from Chicago’s Chatham neighborhood to south suburban Hickory Hills.
The Chicago Democrat also said his decision is driven in part by family. Thapedi’s father passed away last summer and his mother, retired Cook County Judge Llwellyn Thapedi, died in 2014.
“I’m at peace with my decision,” Thapedi said.
Thapedi has served as the Chair of the House Judiciary - Civil committee since 2017, and recently used his position to open a rare investigation into the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs over the COVID-19 outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home in November, which killed 36 residents.
Thapedi last week was again named chair of the committee by new House Speaker Chris Welch (D-Hillside), but Thapedi said he’s quietly been searching for a possible replacement among his colleagues, noting he was the first Black chair of the committee since former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington — for whom his mother had been a campaign attorney in the 1980s.
Outside of the legislature, Thapedi owns his own law firm, which handles general litigation and land use cases. Thapedi and his mother practiced law together for more than a decade until her death.
Thapedi earlier this month was sworn into the House for his seventh term. As 18th Ward Committeeman, Ald. Derrick Curtis (18) has the most weighted votes of those inside the 32nd District to choose his Thapedi’s successor, followed by Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6) in his capacity as committeeman. Together, the pair have more than half of the weighted votes in the district.
Thapedi said he’s been reflecting since his father’s death last year, around the time of the protests surrounding George Floyd’s murder by a police officer in Minneapolis. Thapedi was with his father when he died at his Las Vegas home and said the moment inspired him to write a House Resolution calling for reparations for all Illinoisans of African descent. Democrats in the House adopted the resolution in early January when the legislature met for its Lame Duck session.
Also during Lame Duck session, the General Assembly passed a sweeping package of legislation aimed at equity in education, economic development, healthcare and criminal justice.
Thapedi said he was proud to see that, as well as other strides forward for racial equality in the 12 years he’s served in Springfield, especially in recent years — and weeks, referring to Welch’s election as new House Speaker, though earlier this month Thapedi said he was sticking with former longtime House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) and would not look favorably on anyone else who saw an opportunity to run.
“All the change that’s occurred over time — we’ve got the first black female vice president of the United States, the first Black secretary of defense, the first Black speaker of the [Illinois] House, the first Latina [U.S.] Supreme Court justice, the first Black female mayor of the city of Chicago, the first Black female president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners,” Thapedi said.
Thapedi said “so many things have happened,” making it impossible for him to pinpoint one big or most memorable accomplishment during his tenure.
“Good things are ahead," Thapedi said. "There are things I want to do. I want to still contribute.”
Thapedi ran unsuccessfully for Cook County subcircuit judge in 2006 and said he wouldn’t rule out another run for judge in the future.
Thapedi’s campaign archest is massive. As of Dec. 31, Thapedi had more than $387,000 in his campaign fund, according to records filed with the State Board of Elections earlier this month. He also has nearly $75,000 in campaign debt, but all owed to himself and all more than a decade old.