Natalie Phelps Finnie appointed to General Assembly - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Natalie Phelps Finnie appointed to General Assembly

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HARRISBURG -- Natalie Phelps Finnie became the first woman to represent Illinois' 118th district Wednesday, when Democrats appointed her to replace her cousin, Brandon Phelps, who resigned from office last week.

She does have a political pedigree. Her father, David Phelps, served in Springfield and as United States Congressman.

She says, although she takes pride in their legacy, she wants to pave her own path.

"As the first woman to hold the office of state representative of the 118th District, I believe I bring a fresh perspective to the many problems that face us in southern Illinois," she said.

She says she will make the opioid crisis and bringing jobs back to Southern Illinois, her priorities at the Illinois capitol.

"They go hand in hand," she said. "Which came first? We could argue that all day, but we have a major problem and we've got to see this through to fix it."

A nurse practitioner, Phelps Finnie says she makes tough choices every day, and will bring that same attitude to the General Assembly. 

"I'm a Christian, I'm a mother, I'm a wife, I'm a nurse practitioner. I think that says a lot," she said.

When asked if she would support Mike Madigan as speaker of the house, Phelps Finnie described herself as undecided, with tough decisions ahead of her.

"I'm about the people of southern Illinois and anyone who knows me knows that I'm very stubborn, and I'm certainly no one's yes man," she said. "I can tell you that for sure."

Local Democratic leaders call Phelps Finnie "well qualified" for the position.

But Republicans disagree. 

Massac County State's Attorney Patrick Windhorst, who will run for the seat in 2018, said, "The 118th district is not the Phelps family seat. Southern Illinois needs change, not more of the same. Our voice in Springfield is too important to be handed down to the next available Phelps family member."

Phelps Finnie's appointment takes effect immediately.

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