Senger surprised by possible challenger
As surprised as some of Dawn DeSart's peers were with her decision to contemplate a run for the 96th District House seat, no one was caught more off guard than incumbent state Rep. Darlene Senger.
Senger, a Naperville Republican, said she was aware the state's Democratic leaders were recruiting someone to run against her in the November 2010 general election.
But she says she was stunned to learn it was someone she had supported in the spring Indian Prairie Unit District 204 school board race.
"I voted for (DeSart) in April and encouraged my constituents to do the same because I wanted her on that school board," Senger said Wednesday. "Had I known she would only be in office a few short months before she took a run at my seat, I probably wouldn't have voted for her."
DeSart said Monday she was approached by state Democratic leaders earlier this summer and decided within the past week to move forward and circulate petitions.
Senger was careful not to criticize DeSart's methods. Senger herself served only half of her second 4-year term on Naperville's city council before being elected to the House.
"I served on the council for two years (of the second term) and got a feel for the issues and decided I could be a difference-maker at that (state) level," Senger said. "When I elect someone, I hope they at least serve for some period of time. As for Dawn, I really don't think she realizes how hard Springfield can be."
DeSart's political aspirations also may cause some awkwardness on her own school board.
Board member Mark Metzger said Tuesday he "tends to run in the circles of the (Republican) opposition" when asked to comment on DeSart's announcement.
Cathy Piehl, who was elected to the Indian Prairie board with DeSart, advised DeSart to carefully consider the move.
"I told (Dawn) it would be a tough race for her to win," Piehl said. "I've been a supporter of Darlene for a long time. She's a strong supporter of our district and I see her as an asset to things we're trying to accomplish."
Mark Rising, who finished fourth in the race for three school board seats in April, said he hopes to be appointed to fill DeSart's seat should she leave.
Senger, meanwhile, already has his vote for the House.
"As a fiscal conservative, member and committeeman of the Naperville Township Republican Organization, I will be supporting Darlene Senger for her long track record, commitment, compassion and service to the Indian Prairie School District community," Rising said. "Should Dawn get elected (to the House), I will do my best as an active parent in District 204 to encourage her support of (the school district) as an elected state official."