* The Mark Beaubien Lifetime Achievement Award is a tie. Rep. Joe Lyons…
Joe Lyons is respected by colleagues, staff, lobbyists, and just about anyone who spends any time with him. He gives everyone a fair shake and always tries to do his best. Who can forget his amazing display of rebellion and class last year during debate on his ultrasound bill. Regardless of your feelings on the issue, you have to respect that he walked from the podium to his chair and chastised the manner in which he and his bill had been treated. Hostile amendments were sent to various committees and called individually, but he handled the situation with class. His presence will be greatly missed.
* And Rep. Skip Saviano…
There comes a time, and it doesn’t come too often, that a member of the General Assembly grows from Freshman to Institution. Then again, even as a Freshman, it seemed as though this Member was on his third term, working on projects and legislation, while his classmates were reading from the “Freshman Binder” about how the Committees worked. It never felt odd to say he was a “throwback” legislator even before he was sworn in, and continued to be someone who practiced the best ideals of a time gone by - bi-partisanship.
It would be quite lazy for any of us to say, “He is someone you want to have a meal with, have a drink with, tell stories with …” There is so much more to a 20 year legislative career for us to use that crutch to nominate.
Angelo “Skip” Saviano might be the last of a “Thompson era” type of legislators that understood that if we don’t get along, don’t find common ground, and refuse to get out of our comfort zones, then what do we expect to get done? Saviano could have just been the seat holder. He could have voted his District and his Politcal Operation’s wishes, been a “blue chip” Mushroom in games for others. We are all better off that Angelo “Skip” Saviano… was “Skip”. Saviano was able to parlay his positions to move important issues for himself and countless others.
You would be hard-pressed to find any House or Senate member, or House or Senate staff member for that matter, that Saviano, at one point or another, personally helped. A true testament of Saviano’s impact on the people of the General Assembly is that no matter what Caucus you are in, no matter what Staff you work for, Saviano’s phone numbers were in your Rolodexes. Same with the “traffic stop” others call a “legislative office”. Everyone that may stop by, has been on Saviano’s radar for one thing or another, and Saviano did his best to resolve even the smallest of issues… if it can help you.
Saviano is one of the few members that can pull off cooking dinner at the Mansion for members of the General Assembly, AND be the de facto “host” of the “End of Session” party and not have it seem forced. It is in his DNA to be collegial, to make things fun, and to show the appreciation of the hard work done.
Saviano was someone that others turned to when counting “noses” to see if they can count on his help, with the “and do you think you can get a couple others, I’m a few short”, would sometimes follow. Angelo “Skip” Saviano was the work horse that would win “Best in Show”, all the while working on many other things behind the scenes. A rarity that the Illinois House will greatly miss.
I would have thought this would be a nomination someone would make farther down the road. Politics is a strange business, suprises and change are part and parcel. This should be an easy choice for all.
Ask yourself, “Has Angelo ‘Skip’ Saviano impacted the Caucus, the House, his district, the State?”
“How often did I look for Saviano’s input, assistance, counsel?”
And … how often, did you have to say, “Hey, Skip, thanks.”
Here is that chance, to say “Thank you” … one more time.
Both men are outstanding legislators. And they’ll both be missed.
* The clear people’s choice for the John Millner Lifetime Achievement Award is Sen. Susan Garrett…
Susan Garrett’s impact on the state of Illinois and on the Illinois Senate can be seen how her district sees her, and how, with their support, Susan Garrett has been able to impact all of Illinois.
Garrett has been true to herself, allowing her district to judge her on the votes she takes and the stands she makes, all the while being as engaging and impactful a seantor as those with less to worry about “back home”. Garrett has always been fair to the issues and process, and never was afraid to take on the controversial issues of the day. Garrett made the art of political Compromise, not “Compromising” to her and her views. Garrett was a rare legislator that could work to find solutions, and get a fair shake from beginning to end, looking for resloution, not style points.
Engaging back in her District, Garrett was not one to have office hours for a desk and chair. Garrett was out front, with Town Halls and Public Forums to give her constituents the opportunity be have an impact on the process, while educating them on why their state senator is on a side of an issue, and why it was important for her to be there.
Susan Garrett will be missed in the Illinois Senate, and I hope that the Freshman coming in will look at Susan Garrett as someone who “did it right”. Illinois can only hope that her model of excellence is copied by these new Freshman, because Illinois needs more than 1 of them to fill her shoes in the Illinois Senate.
* Runner-up is Sen. Tom Johnson…
He could actually qualify for either award, but he finished in the Senate so let’s go with the John Millner award. Rep and then Sen. Johnson always managed to both rage against the machine and work within it. In an era of wingnuts, Tea Partiers and loudmouths, more lawmakers could learn from Tom Johnson. Go ahead and try to describe him. Fiscally conservative but a social libertarian? A social liberal with a depression-era checkbook mentality? In my experience ranging from the House to the Prisoner Review Board to the Senate, he was wise and kind and outspoken and an individual.
I’ll take more of him on either side of the aisle.
* OK, campers, we’re running out of time, so let’s move on to today’s categories…
* Best Illinois Congresscritter
* Best State Agency Director
Remember, intensity is what matters here. Make extra sure to explain your votes and please nominate in both categories. Thanks much.