HARRISBURG -- Democratic leaders representing the 118th Legislative District appointed Natalie Phelps Finnie the successor to former State Rep. Brandon Phelps at a caucus on the campus of Southeastern Illinois College Wednesday.
She is the first woman to hold the 118th seat.
"From coal miners and farmers to small business owners, laborers and teachers, the hardworking men and women of our community deserves a representative in Springfield who will continue fighting for southern Illinois," Phelps Finnie said.
"As a Nurse Practitioner at the Gallatin County Wellness Center, every day I see the way children are affected when their parents struggle just to make ends meet. While the opiate crisis continues to grow because current policies have failed to address the causes of addiction, these innocent children are the ones paying the price.
"As state representative, I will fight every day to bring good jobs, health care and other vital resources to the hardworking families in Southern Illinois."
Phelps Finnie is a cousin to Brandon Phelps and is the daughter of former U.S. Rep. David Phelps of Eldorado. David Phelps also is a former state representative and currently serves on the Saline County Board.
At the end of the news conference, David Phelps told those gathered how, when Natalie was 8 years old, she was diagnosed with spinal meningitis at an Evansville hospital.
"We were told that's the worst thing she could have, and they said don't expect her to walk out of here," he said. "Just look at her now."
Brandon Phelps stepped down from the seat last week, saying his health prevented him from continuing.
The 118th District includes all or parts of Saline, Gallatin, Hardin, Hamilton, Johnson, Union, Jackson, Massac, Pulaski and Alexander counties.