Eddie Winters

Eddie Winters in May appearing before a panel of Democratic committee members. (Nancy Stone, Chicago Tribune / August 24, 2012)

West Side Democratic leaders on Friday picked Chicago police officer Eddie Winters to fill the seat vacated by former Rep. Derrick Smith, who was kicked out of office over a federal bribery charge by his Illinois House colleagues last week.
 
Winters will hold the office until January, when the winner of the Nov. 6 election is sworn-in.
 
Despite being removed from office, Smith remains on the ballot and could reclaim his seat.

He is up against third-party candidate Lance Tyson, an attorney who Democrats picked to run against Smith after he refused to resign and drop out of the race.
 
Winters, who works as a counter-terrorism officer, was the unanimous pick of a panel of Democratic committeemen led by Secretary of State Jesse White, who previously had backed Smith.

Winters will be sworn-in within the next few days after he arranges leave with the Police Department, said Ald. Bob Fioretti, who sits on the panel and has supported Winters in previous bids for office.
 
Fioretti, 2nd, said Winters posses “strong, independent Democratic values” and has long worked to better the community.

He said Winters will act as more than a seat-filler, noting the importance of every vote during the fall veto session, when controversial measures often gain momentum.
 
“One vote can make all the difference, and our community needs to be represented,” Fioretti said.

mcgarcia@tribune.com
Twitter @moniquegarcia