After the deadline to file petitions to run for state office ended Dec. 2, State Representatives Emanuel “Chris” Welch, a Democrat who represents the 7th District (which covers Forest Park, River Forest and much of Proviso) found himself facing primary and general election challengers.

Rep. Welch, who’s finishing his first year in the legislature, is a lawyer by profession who served as President of the Proviso Township High School District 209 Board of Education for nearly a decade before resigning this year. He currently lives in Hillside. He faces Democrat Antoinette “Toni” Gray, a current resident of Maywood and owner of a Farmers Insurance agency located at 901 S. 5th Ave. Although she doesn’t practice law, Gray, a former college instructor and administrator, earned a juris doctorate and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the area of education. Gray will stop in Forest Park Sunday, Dec. 8 for a fundraiser at Fatduck Tavern & Grill.

Although the primary contest between Gray and Welch is shaping to be the central narrative of the race for the 7th Dist. seat (here’s one sub-plot: Gray is a graduate of Proviso East High School in Maywood and Welch is an alumnus of Proviso West High School in Hillside), Republican Mark Salispan seeks to present a formidable obstacle in the general election for either candidate–despite his relative obscurity. Right now, the only thing we know definitely about Salispan is that he lives in Maywood (according to the Illinois State Board of Elections website).


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