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Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards

Wednesday, Dec 4, 2019

* It seems like every year we get fewer and fewer nominations for best bartender/waitstaff and this year was no exception. There simply weren’t enough nominations to make a choice, so the category is no more.

Today’s categories…

* Best Senate Administrative Assistant/District Office Manager

* Best House Administrative Assistant/District Office Manager

Make sure to fully explain your vote and try to nominate in both categories. However, I totally get that some of you only work with (or in) one chamber, so I’m more lenient on these sorts of categories. Anyway, have fun!

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Missing Bathroom Key - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 11:47 am:

    House District Office Manager
    Mike Amarilio (Rep Carroll’s office)

  2. - Cheswick - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 11:58 am:

    MBK, pls explain. For Rich and us who like to live vicariously thru those of you in the know.

  3. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 11:59 am:

    Explain or your vote won’t count.

  4. - JoeMaddon - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 12:05 pm:

    Senate: Ben Isabel in Sen. Fine’s Springfield office is great. He’s smart, responsive, and always kind. He’s someone that engages and helps on policy, both for the Senator and with stakeholders. He’s a joy to work with.

    House: Lea Negron in Rep. Cassidy’s district office. Cassidy took on huge things this year, and her office was swamped with calls and meetings - both from within district and outside. Lea handed it like a pro - with smarts, grace, and kindness. And was always able to be responsive and helpful despite the madness.

  5. - Missing Bathroom Key - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 12:10 pm:

    You call his office, Mike always answers the phone or returns calls in a timely manner. He is constantly helping constituents. Other office managers in the area count on him for help. He’s also helped mentor several interns including one who’s now on a village board.

  6. - Commisar Gritty - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 12:16 pm:

    I nominate Jeanne Ives district office manager because some people just want to watch the world burn.

  7. - Capital Idea - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 12:19 pm:

    Mike Amarilio, hands down. He knows how to pour a drink and, as importantly for a bartender, engage his audience.

  8. - Anon 12:18 - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 12:21 pm:

    I would like to nominate Cheri Hermes in Leader Jim Durkin’s capitol office. Not only is she a gatekeeper extraordinaire, she is always smiling when the pressure is on. She follows-up on her promise to call you back if the Leader’s schedule opens up and he can see you oon short notice. She is smart and kind and always willing to help. You never get the sense that she is a dug-in partisan because she is not. Adding, she is the proud mama of a soldier who just completed basic training! Oh, and it’s her birthday week!

  9. - Boomerang - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 12:30 pm:

    === He knows how to pour a drink and, as importantly for a bartender, engage his audience. ===

    Wait. I thought Rich cancelled that category? /s

  10. - cc alum - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 12:30 pm:

    Best House Administrative Assistant: Mary Anderson (Guzzardi, Arroyo)

    Mary is a sweetheart who is diligent, reliable, and has been able to manage some House personalities with the utmost grace. Considering the tumultuous departure of one of her reps, I want to commend her for her attempts to ensure Luis got to the floor on time and send her my sympathies for the barrage of calls she has to deal with recently.

  11. - To the bill - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 12:33 pm:

    House: Judi Serra, formerly Hoffman’s LA. She’s kind, charming, encouraging, and even occasionally offers coffee. Judi assists members with grace and distinction.

    Best wishes in your retirement, Judi - we’ll miss you!

  12. - Todd & Margo - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 12:39 pm:

    Best House-Judi Serra whose retiring at the end of the year. Her current reps are Larry Walsh Jr. and Sara Feignholtz. She had Handsome Jay before that. She not only is on top of her members and makes sure they are where they need to be (specifically Larry) she is also kind and courteous to all who come by that area. She will be missed.

    Senate- Lisa Katava. Lisa might be the kindest person in the state house. She always is smiling and has a kind word for everybody who stops by. She is not only accessible and efficient but she makes everybody feel welcome at her desk by having coffee, candy, and snacks for all the have.

  13. - To the bill - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 12:41 pm:

    House: Judi Serra, formerly Hoffman’s LA. She is kind, charming, encouraging, and occasionally offers coffee. Judi assists members with grace and distinction.

    Best wishes in your retirement, Judi - we’ll miss you!

  14. - Give Me A Break - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 12:51 pm:

    Senate: Lisa Katava. They don’t come any better. Has she ever had a bad day? She treats the newest intern to senior staff and lawmakers all the same. With the utmost respect and understanding. And like some said, she is always ready with coffee and treats. She is a saint.

    House: Liz in Hoffman’s office. She can find Jay when no one can, knows exactly how to put out the day-to-day fires that erupt around her and most of all, keeps her cool when lobbyist don’t want to hear what they need to hear.

  15. - Say no more - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 12:52 pm:

    Best Senate - Jan’et Scott in Sen. Lightford’s office. The Leader is non-stop busy but effective. That is in large part because Jan’et stays on top her ever changing schedule. She is professional, kind and courteous to guests but knows how to get the job done to keep things moving.

  16. - John Amdor - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 1:01 pm:

    There are so many excellent choices. I really appreciate the work of AAs and district staff. They are a vital part of the process. Thank you to all.

    Senate: Tammy Bristow for her tireless work supporting the incomparable former Sen. Hutchinson. What a team.

    House: Jennifer Davis in Jessica Basham’s office. A difficult job in any year but doing it for a new CoS, lots of new members, and a new governor? And having a new daughter during it all? C’mon. She’s the best.

    I’d also be lost without Carrie Impson and Rachel Sullivan.

    Mike Amarilio is great too. Dude’s everywhere. Way better than the guy in that office under the previous rep.

  17. - ;) - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 1:22 pm:

    Senate: Lisa Katava. Bar none. She not only maintains her sanity and civility throughout the entire session, but she some how also manages to ensure that everyone has had a snack from her never ending bowls of sustenance on her desk and she’s able to manage her Senator as well as the entire Hastings organization…and that is no small endeavor.

    House: Liz in Turner’s office is the absolute best. I mean I could write a treatise on everything Liz continuously does on a daily basis, but seriously, the next sentence is all that needs to be said: she has to manage Leaders Hoffman and Turner every Wednesday and Thursday morning. Nuff said. We love you Liz.

    To be honest, if I had to choose between Lisa and Liz, I couldn’t; I’d gladly have to find a way to hire both. Two of the very, very best down there.

  18. - 46th Ward - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 1:24 pm:

    Rachel Sullivan, LA for Leaders Crespo and Manley. Both her members moved over to the capitol this year and she has handled the transition seamlessly and is extremely helpful.

  19. - BilboSwaggins - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 1:32 pm:

    Senate: Marty McAlpin at Laura Murphy’s office. Guy knows everyone, is extremely involved in the community, and is massively passionate about serving the constituents.

    House: Tony Snow with Moylan’s office in Springfield. Guy has a million things on his plate but is always timely, effective, and the absolute nicest guy in the whole world.

  20. - Gladhander - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 1:36 pm:

    Senate District Office Manager: Judy Berger from Martwick’s office. She maintains great relationships with folks in other state offices/agencies, and is super helpful to when you call her. She has more institutional knowledge than most district staffers. She followed Martwick to the Senate after many years running the Rep office, both under Martwick and his predecessor, Joe Lyons.

    House District Office Manager: Mike Amarilio from Carroll’s office. For being so relatively new to the job (compared to a lot of staffers) he has a real understanding of how to run the office. He handles it like a true professional and responds to requests quickly. I’ve always had good interactions with him. Consummate professional.

  21. - Red Line Rambler - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 2:04 pm:

    Senate: Lisa Katava (Holmes)
    Lisa was originally with Senator Mulroe before his retirement. With all the craziness/changes on the first floor, she still is just the best. She knows the legislative process through its ins and outs and is the kindest person under the dome. She constantly has a smile on her face and is always ready to help anyone in need. There is no question that she is the best legislative assistant in the capitol. (Also, she clearly has the best coffee/snacks in the building)

  22. - Jimmy Baseball - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 2:15 pm:

    Senate - Jan’et Scott in Sen. Lightford’s office. In addition to handling one of the busiest, most challenging legislators in Springfield, Jan’et is also one of the friendliest people in the Capital.

    House - Liz in Hoffman’s office also does great work for an extremely busy legislator.

  23. - Failing New York Times - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 2:16 pm:

    Best House Admin: Rachel Sullivan (Leader Crespo and Manley) and Carrie Impson (Leader Hernandez).

  24. - Irish Malarkey - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 2:20 pm:

    Senate: Katina Weller: sharp on top of multiple things for a very busy senator who deals with a diverse set of legislation

    House: Justin Cochran: smart and a fast learner. Passionate about those he serves and innovative in his role. Has constantly delivered on constituent casework for those he works for

  25. - Nobody Nobody Sent - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 2:20 pm:

    I don’t deal enough with the Senate enough to make a fair nomination, but I do want to second Mike Amarilio (Rep. Carroll’s Chief of Staff) for Best House District Office Manager. Mike is the king of follow through. Persistent with constituent issues and great at building relationships with other offices. Absolute pleasure to work with.

  26. - Failing New York Times - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 2:26 pm:

    Corrected comment: Rachel Sullivan (Leader Crespo and Manley) and Carrie Impson (Leader Hernandez). They’re hard working, always in good spirits and ready to help when it comes to tracking down the leaders.

  27. - Failing New York Times - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 2:30 pm:

    Also, is it just me or do the Mike Amarilio nominations seem like a coordinated effort? I can’t be the only who thought this

  28. - cc alum - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 2:31 pm:

    I 2nd the NYT. How many statehouse types know the district staff of a freshmen rep?

  29. - Nuke the Whales - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 2:47 pm:

    Mike Amarilio from Jonathan Carroll’s office. My professional association’s legislative committee took issue with one of Representative Carroll’s bills. Out of all of the staff we dealt with on the subject, he was by far the most respectful.

    On the Senate side, I would collectively nominate the staff of the Senators who dealt with the Feds because those phone calls must’ve been nightmare-ish for something they had no role in.

  30. - Miss Marie - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 3:05 pm:

    Deni Wilson in Sen. Morison’s Office. I don’t know how she keeps up with the Senator. Plus, the Senator has taken up some controversial gun bills, but Deni handles every angry caller with grace. There are not enough good things I could say about her.

  31. - Miss Marie - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 3:07 pm:

    Wait, I meant there are too many good things to say about her. Sorry, need to proof better.

  32. - John Amdor - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 3:07 pm:

    Nobody had to ask me to say a nice thing about Mike. I saw other people doing it and chimed in because he is a good dude.

  33. - Career Politician 2.0 - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 3:23 pm:

    Best Senate Administrative Assistant/District Office Manager:
    Rich Jacobs in Senator Castro’s office. He has been around for years. He is extremely knowledgeable and provides top notch constituent service. A district office manager/COS can make or break a legislator and Rich’s commitment to public service and knowledge makes Castro a strong public servant.

    Best House Administrative Assistant/District Office Manager:
    Liz Moody- LA for Leaders Hoffman & Turner. Liz is able to manage the day to day session craziness for two leaders with districts at opposite ends of the state. If you are ever in 300, you may hear Hoffman yelling from his office: LIZ. She is able to put out fires, solve constituent service issues and is extremely organized. She manages to get both members to their respective committees, tracks legislation to make sure her legislators are prepared to call their bills in committee and on the floor.

    Liz has the skills to manage the revolving door of advocates, staffers & lobbyists seeking to talk to her members. She is a true gem under the dome.

  34. - Way South of I-80 - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 3:30 pm:

    Senate - There is no contest - it is Lisa Katava. She is efficient, organized and welcoming to all. Lisa can make even the roughest day at the Capitol seem better.

    House - Mary Anderson. She handles every situation with class and grace while keeping her legislators on schedule and prepared.
    Both of these ladies are true gems and I am grateful to have worked with both of them.

  35. - Nanook from Northbrook - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 3:47 pm:

    I happen to live in Rep Carroll’s district and without a doubt all the praise being given to Mike Amarilio is legit. When I’ve had an issue, Mike invited me to the office and helped me fill out the proper paperwork. He followed up until it was resolved. I drive by the Rep’s office and will stop in and say hello. On a few occasions, I’ve seen him treating others with the same respect. It’s easy to be cynical when someone in this state is praised for doing a good job, but those of us in the district who know Mike are proud he’s on our side.

  36. - Pumpkin - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 4:22 pm:

    Lisa Katava hands down in the senate. The most genuine, kind hearted individual I have ever met. They truly don’t make them like her anymore. This world needs more Lisa’s in my opinion

  37. - Time’s up - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 4:36 pm:

    @ keyboard warrior and others: let’s stop referring to grown women as “girls”

  38. - Bertrum Cates - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 4:37 pm:

    = The girls =

    They have names.

  39. - NorthsideNoMore - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 4:46 pm:

    Liz Moody Hoffmans assitant keeps the line moving and gets you what you need and she has good mints ! On the R side Wheelers dist office director Ben Marcum gets your info to boss in a clear and concise manor and gets things done. Becky Gillam in Sen DeWitts office is new but she is efficient and helpful.

  40. - StraightOuttaCobden - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 6:13 pm:

    Senate Administrative Assistant- Deni Wilson
    House Administrative Assistant- Jewel O’Brian

  41. - ComeOn - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 7:13 pm:

    Senate- Deni Wilson. Deni is one of the kindness gentlest people in Springfield. She is motherly to all and takes the job with grace and Dignity. She helps make sure that Senator Morrison has time to speak with all parties on a bill even if they are opponents. She has also assisted in planning the DCFS youth in care and Alumni Shadow day for many years.

    House- Jewel Obrian. Jewels was Rep Cassidys LA. This year where Cassidy not only passed legislation of marijuana but also the more pro Women Health care bill. The disrespectful calls she would receive everyday would of caused me to quit everyday. I mean how many times can you be told your going to hell.

  42. - 👍 - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 8:27 pm:

    I truly believe that all the legislative assistants do a very good job!! Keep up the great work!!

  43. - {Sigh} - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 9:39 pm:

    Behind every effective legislator is a strong LA that keeps the show going, is often yelled at by some stranger who is upset by some gun bill & tries to coordinate meetings knowing everything will change in a hour. {Sigh} If I have to pick one LA, then I have to go with Liz Moody. For years she has assisted Art Turner and he treated her like family. This year she gained Jay Hoffman. Now, we all know that Rep. Hoffman can be high maintenance…I mean he does have his own bobblehead. But, in all seriousness, as others have already pointed out Liz is the best. She kept Art & Jay on schedule, is an effective gatekeeper and loyal person.

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