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Lawmaker apologizes to local state rep for perceived racial comment

Published: Thursday, April 10, 2014 11:17 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, April 11, 2014 12:29 p.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD – State Rep. John Anthony, R-Plainfield, accepted Thursday the apology of another representative who appeared to make a racial comment directed at him.

State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora, apologized Thursday morning for comments made Wednesday she said were taken out of context and were not aimed at Anthony’s biracial background.

“Representative Chapa LaVia has apologized twice and I take her at her word that she is regretful for her comments, although I wish she would reconsider her unrelenting efforts to dismantle charter schools in Illinois,” Anthony said in a written statement. “Education is the foundation of success for every American student and we should be promoting choice and competition.”

On the floor Wednesday of the House of Representatives, Chapa LaVia appeared to call Anthony, the only ethnic minority Republican in the House, a “half” during debate on a bill regarding charter schools. Anthony represents much of Grundy County in the state House 75th District.

“Listen to me minorities,” Chapa LaVia said during the debate, according to video posted at CapitolFax.com. “I’m over here because we’re all over on this side, right? What you’ll also find, wait, we have a half, we have a half. So our children that we find that are in the lower percentile, and the highest ability to go up, right, are being denied access to some of these grade schools, because we don’t have the parent engagement we would like.”

LaVia apologized to representatives for the comment during Thursday morning’s House session.

“I want to deeply apologize to my side of the aisle over here, my colleagues, my brothers and sisters, for my personality meltdown yesterday,” Chapa LaVia said, according to a second video posted on CapitolFax.com. “I love all of you and I respect all of you here, and I deeply apologize for the words that came out of my mouth.

“The tongue, sometimes it’s the most dangerous part of somebody’s body. So, [House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, R-Westchester] and all my colleagues, I hope you accept my apology from the bottom of my heart.”

LaVia said she didn’t mean for “half” to be in reference to Anthony during her emotionally charged speech, but she was talking about the Democrat half of the House floor.

Durkin accepted Chapa LaVia’s apology, but also spoke about the necessity to maintain respect while serving in the Legislature.

“During the course of every session, we all feel different levels of frustration. ... However, we should never let that frustration ever translate to anything that can be perceived or is personal or hurtful,” Durkin said, according to the video.

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