Melinda Bush won't seek reelection to state Senate
Calling it a "happy-sad" moment, Democratic state Sen. Melinda Bush of Grayslake announced Wednesday she is not running for reelection in 2022 but will finish her term.
When she leaves Springfield, the lifelong Lake County resident will have served a decade. Bush was reelected in 2020 to a 2-year term that ends in January 2023.
"This is really, truly happy-sad," Bush said Wednesday. "It's been the unexpected honor of my life to serve the people of these communities.
"Ten years is a long time, and it's time for someone else to have an opportunity. I wanted to make sure I announced in time so people could make considerations and decide if they want to run to represent the 31st District," which includes more than 20 towns in Lake County.
Bush listed among her achievements sponsoring the Reproductive Health Act in 2019 to ensure that "abortion will remain legal in Illinois," as well as legislation to address the opioid crisis and to ensure clean drinking water by replacing lead pipes.
She also was chairwoman of a bipartisan Senate task force on sexual discrimination during the #MeToo movement that led to tough laws intended to prevent sexual harassment.
Asked if she would seek higher office, such as a congressional seat, Bush said it was doubtful.
"Never say never, but I've enjoyed my time in the Illinois Senate and got more done than I would ever have gotten done in Congress," she said
Bush was first elected as state representative in 2012 and began her first term in January 2013. Before that she was a Lake County Board member and a Grayslake village trustee.
Bush said she used the fable about slowly boiling a frog, who doesn't realize the danger until it's too late, to counter the raw, political climate of Springfield deal-making,
"Whenever I would go into tough meetings, I started carrying a (toy) frog in my pocket to remind myself to be hyper-aware that the environment can change around you. And sometimes you change and don't realize it," Bush said.
"I've been true to my ideas and values and I hope that people will look at my career and know that I've done what I could to make life better. It's the best-worst job I've ever had."
The move is expected to spark a rousing general election race and most likely a primary among Lake County Democrats.