Former ASG president to run for Hamos’ 18th district seat

Nicole Hong

Former Associated Student Government President Patrick Keenan-Devlin (WCAS, School of Music ’06) is moving “full speed ahead” with his campaign to become the 18th District representative in the Illinois General Assembly, currently held by Rep. Julie Hamos.

Hamos was planning to leave the seat in order to run for Illinois Attorney General, until Lisa Madigan, who currently holds that position, unexpectedly announced yesterday that she will run for re-election. This move could create a domino-effect causing Keenan-Devlin to drop out of the race.

In response to Madigan’s announcement, Hamos released a statement “commending” Madigan for her service and asking Illinois residents for ideas on how best to serve the state, which Keenan-Devlin said implies Hamos will still be seeking a different statewide office, meaning her seat will still be vacated. But if Hamos does run for re-election in her current position, Keenan-Devlin said he will abandon his candidacy. Evanston attorney Jeff Smithis the only other candidate who has officially announced an intent to run for Hamos’ seat.

Keenan-Devlin, whose campaign slogan is “A New Way for Illinois,” recently stepped down as the legislative director of Citizen Action/Illinois, the state’s largest public interest organization, to focus on his campaign. The issue topping his agenda is campaign finance reform. His objective, he said, is to make a waitress’s contribution matter as much as a CEO’s contribution.

“People are so sick and tired of the antics in Springfield,” Keenan-Devlin said. “I think people are very hungry for change, for a new way and course for Illinois, much like they were at the national level. Unfortunately, what happened at the national level didn’t trickle down to Obama’s home state.”

His other top priorities include reforming healthcare legislation and stopping predatory lending, issues he said can be addressed once the state legislature focuses on eliminating the current “dollars-for-votes” system.

“I’ve watched many good pieces of legislation die at the hands of special interests,” he said. “Until we change that system, pressing issues related to healthcare and predatory lending will never be enacted in this state.”

Keenan-Devlin plans to run a “real grassroots operation” and has already assembled a campaign team with some NU students.

Born and raised in New York, Keenan-Devlin’s father was family court judge, and his mother was an obstetrician-gynocologist nurse. His sister is a major in the U.S. Air Force, and his brother is a professional organist.

His brother also has autism, which is why Keenan-Devlin said he plans to focus on providing resources for families with children who have developmental disabilities.

At NU, he majored in history and vocal performance. While he was president of ASG, he acted in response to battery attacks on and off campus by pushing for improved lighting and emergency phones around the community.

“My role as ASG president really allowed me to know this community, and I realized the issues facing students are also concerns facing the community,” he said.

After college, Keenan-Devlin worked at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law as part of the AmeriCorps Volunteer In Service To America program. As the center’s health policy advocate, he traveled across Illinois and pushed for more access to primary medical care.

Keenan-Devlin serves on the board of the United Way of Evanston and also sits on the Board of Advisors for the Sheil Catholic Center.

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