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Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards

Thursday, Dec 5, 2019

* Before we hand out the awards in these categories, this needs to be said

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

They work hard, they’re paid poorly, they’re not always treated very well or respected (and a bunch of them were laid off in the House) and yet just about every one of them somehow manages to be efficient and courteous. My hat is off to all of you.

* The 2019 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Senate Administrative Assistant/District Office Manager goes to the overwhelming favorite Lisa Katava

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)

* The 2019 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best House Administrative Assistant/District Office Manager goes to Liz Moody

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 a 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.

Honorable mention goes to Mike Amarilio.

* OK, let’s move on to today’s categories. Sorry I’m getting to this so late in the day…

* Best Illinois House Democratic Staffer - Non-Political

* Best Illinois House Republican Staffer - Non-Political

In other words, staffers who don’t specialize in running campaigns during the “off” season.

Do your very best to nominate in both categories. Also, make sure to explain your nominations or they will not count. This isn’t just about vote totals, it’s also about the intensity of support. Have fun!

- Posted by Rich Miller        

39 Comments
  1. - the winner is... - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 2:32 pm:

    House Democrats — Kit Walsh. If you don’t know her, you should make it your business to get to know her. She has quickly garnered a reputation as someone you can go to for advice and help, plus she’s wicked smart. She was part of the dynamic trio of staffers who wrote the marijuana bill (Ashley Jenkins/Marishonta Wilkerson/Kit Walsh).

    House Republicans — Derek Persico is the man. He’s kind and courteous to everyone who reaches out to him and he’s a workhorse. He’s been around forever but this year he really shined as the top legal eagle for the House Republicans.


  2. - Neverland - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 2:42 pm:

    House Dems: Kit Walsh is incredibly smart, competent, and hard-working. She helped manage several important bills this year and is someone that many legislators are comfortable relying on.


  3. - Todd & Margo - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 2:42 pm:

    House Dem- Michael Morthland. He’s a self starter, knows the issues, and really listens to all sides while putting together his analysis and informing his members. He gets stuck with a lot of difficult issues such as $15 minimum wage and while there Governor and Rep Guzzardi got a lot of credit. Michael was right there working the issue on the back end and providing support and guidance. He’s also one of the nicest people under the dome and has really built a reputation as a true gentleman.

    House Republican - Nathan Mansfield. You won’t find a nicer person than Manny. He has a wealth of knowledge on transportation issues. Works well with both sides of the aisle and works diligently for a agreeable solution.


  4. - Commissar Gritty - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 2:45 pm:

    Congrats to Lisa and Liz!


  5. - mocking jay - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 2:52 pm:

    House Democrats: This one is easy. Ryan Trevor has quickly ascended to senior staff, taking on more and more responsibilities as staff changes every second. He is one smart cookie who you can talk to and just “gets it.” Plus he is amazing at trivia and funny in the most low-key way.

    House Republicans: Has Frank Straus ever won this thing? Talk about a dedicated public servant. He has been around forever and is in the ILSIP Hall of Fame. Incredible talent.


  6. - Monty Python - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 3:05 pm:

    Michael Morthland. knows his stuff, listens well, though his clip on bow ties are probably worth a few dings. Seriously though, handled a ton of tough issues with lots of nuances very well.

    Nathan Mansfield - gets it, navigates with difficult members and still has time to be polite. Also works well with his counterparts on the dem side, which while that shouldn’t be a big deal, given some of the gop’s holding seats should be stressed.


  7. - Bubba Monkey - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 3:09 pm:

    Dems - Cit Walsh. She’s just one of those staffers that truly loves their job. It shows in her work, her attitude, and her dedication. I’m sure she will be scooped up soon for bigger and better things, but the Office has been lucky to have her as long as they have

    GOP - Jen Paswater. Can’t think of an important issue she didn’t have some hand in. Smart and respected by everyone on both sides of the aisle.


  8. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 3:19 pm:

    Mike Morthland by a mile. Knows his stuff, hard working and genuinely cares. Great guy, and his beard game is strong.


  9. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 3:28 pm:

    Dani Mendez. Hard worker, organized, genuine.


  10. - Guv'nah Bond - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 3:30 pm:

    Dem: Mike Northland. Easy going demeanor. Engaging and approachable, to both sides. Always prepared and knows his stuff. And, yeah, #beardgame

    GOP: Frank Strauss. No one knows their issues better than Frank. He is GOP staff point for gaming, among others, during the year we finally passed a “big one” again. Works his tail off and always accessible. Also, his knowledge of history and trivia is top-notch and hilarious.


  11. - harold washington - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 3:45 pm:

    Dem: Patrick Hostert. He quickly came into the role as the lead on all human service matters, no small task. He has familiarized himself with the entirety of the human services budget, is working on the hospital transformation, was the administrative and technical support for the human service budget negotiations this spring, and has been able to manage it all while remaining kind and reliable.

    GOP: Jen Paswater. She has worked on many of the important issues that have come through and has proven to be effective and reliable.


  12. - YAW - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 3:47 pm:

    House Republican Jennifer Paswater deserves this one. She’s a former prosecutor (not federal and doesn’t shout it in the annoying Drury kind of way) who went to the State Police, then left to help save the shinking ship that was the Rauner administration, only to get her job cut when they “reorganized.” Leader Durkin and Andrew Freiheit were incredibly smart to ask her to join the GOP team. She has more than proven her worth. She’s a mentor to staffers and kind to the swarms of lobbyists who often need her time and attention. All this while raising two adorable little boys.

    Mark Jarmer deserves accolades for an incredible first year as House Dem budget director. He was propelled into the spot when Basham was promoted, revamped the staff morale, and worked on a ridiculous number of items this year, including the capital bill.


  13. - Annonin' - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 3:51 pm:

    Yeah Liz
    Look no farther that Kit for the Ds
    GOPies should gv with Eleni Demertziz…help Durkie come out unscathed with GovJunk poison plant..that was tough.


  14. - baby yoda - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 3:55 pm:

    Dem: Patrick Hostert. He has quickly come into the weighty role of lead on all things Human Services which we all know is no small task. From the hospital transformation, human service budget negotiations, MCO transition and so much more, he has proven himself to be effective, reliable, dynamic all while remaining down to earth and kind.


  15. - "Lobster" bisque - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 3:56 pm:

    Dem: Mike “Waz”, I dont know if this is a complement or insult but Waz always gets assigned members that make you think he got one someone’s bad side. Yet this humble young man manages these high maintenance assignments with a lot of patience, respect and alittle humor. Also does some great impressions of members!

    GOP: Nathan Mansfield: One of the nicest people in the Captiol. Works hard and plays well with the other side. The only bad thing about him is there’s only one of him.


  16. - Anon - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 3:59 pm:

    HDEM: Joe Miller by 100 miles ( see what I did there? He runs a lot). He left staff after this past session and those are some big shoes to fill. He carried huge issues and was instrumental in the Gaming legislation. Plus you won’t meet a more interesting guy.
    HGOP: I second and third Frank Straus. He is an institution.


  17. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 4:14 pm:

    Dem- Hands-down, no question, Joe Miller. Joe was absolutely instrumental in handling the gaming expansion legislation. Joe’s unmatched focus and dedication to the task at hand resulted in monumental legislation that will allow vertical capital in Illinois to become a reality. If a lesser staffer tried to handle it is very likely that gaming expansion would not be a reality, especially given all the personalities and ego’s involved in the industry.

    GOP- Dane Thull. Dane is an elementary education sage, and provides a steady-hand for a staff that has seen a lot of turnover. He is extremely knowledgeable in his subject-area and always willing to help, wherever possible.


  18. - unclesam - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 4:25 pm:

    HDEM: James Hartman deserves nominating here. He’s been involved on almost every major issue, and has handled everything thrown at him. Very smart, takes time to listen to all sides of an issue, and tells you like it is (even if it’s not in your favor). Enjoys the job and always finds a silver-lining when things get hectic.

    HGOP: I can second Derek Persico. Smart, friendly, and fierce when he has to be. Again, will always listen to all sides, and then tell you like it is.


  19. - Suburbanite - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 4:29 pm:

    Dems: Tyler Hunt. Tyler has been around a long time and knows A TON. He works incredibly hard, is always willing to help others, and makes work at the capitol more fun!


  20. - Parsimonious - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 4:44 pm:

    House Dems - Kit Walsh - Highly intelligent, diligently worked on key pieces of legislation, always easy to work with and personable. 5 Stars, Would Highly Recommend.

    House Republicans - Jen Paswater - Can’t think of an important issue she didn’t have some hand in. Smart and respected by everyone on both sides of the aisle.


  21. - And the obvious choice is.. - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 4:47 pm:

    House Dem: Mary Cahill. She is a pleasure to work with. Always in good spirits and ready to roll up her sleeves. She is passionate about her work and is one of the biggest Cubs fan I know.


  22. - Suburbanite - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 4:48 pm:

    Dems: Tyler Hunt. Tyler has worked on staff for 20 or so years and I don’t believe has has every won this category, but he is truly a one- of-a-kind staffer. Tyler is incredibly knowledgeable in his subject areas, especially with budget, and is always willing to help. Also, he is infamous for his jokes and makes the capital more fun.

    GOP: Dane Thull. Dane is incredibly professional and knowledgeable in education issues. He is a pleasure to work with.


  23. - {Sigh} - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 4:49 pm:

    House Republicans: Nathan Mansfield. He is a true gem that has been under the dome for a few years. If he is assigned to your subject matter, he will be reaching out to make sure your position is included in his staff analysis. The thing about Nathan is- when he gives you his word that he will do something, you know it’s going to get done. He treats everyone with the same level of respect and is always willing to trouble shoot or help connect you to the person that you need to talk to. You can tell that he takes his job serious and knows that it is an honor to work at the capitol.

    House Democrats: Maggie Livingston. When controversial legislative issues arise, you can bet Maggie is involved. From ethics, procurement to sexual harassment, Maggie doesn’t get caught up in the soundbites. You may not always agree with her, but she will listen to your concerns. She takes being a lawyer serious and if you are working with her on an issue, you better be prepared to explain policy and legal implications, or you are going to lose. Oh, and you better make sure your arguments are constitutional. If she is negotiating a hot button issue with all the parties, and you tell her, you are going to hold this for further discussions- don’t try and move that bill bc that brick will not be lifted- she took you at your word. She is a true public servant who could probably make more money in the private sector.

    Staffers like Nathan and Maggie restore faith that there are good people under the dome with no hidden agendas shaping public policy.


  24. - Of course - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 4:51 pm:

    Too broad a category RM. you must break apart legal, budget, issues. Directors should have their own category as well. They should not count as reg. Staff.

    Area/ HDEM/ HGOP
    Legal-m Livingston being the assistant is never easy. D persico enough said.

    Budget
    E Lowder and Trevor tied. Miller no longer on staff so no count. Tyler take abow. You’ve already won so no go. Capital revenue and bimp. E Gibbons on gop. Impossible job but still smiling.


  25. - Of course 2 - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 4:54 pm:

    Issues/comms

    Too many turnover to know. T Moy K Kelly really too much talent on that staff. Good luck Abby. Both sides of aisle.


  26. - Time to run - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 4:57 pm:

    Miller Miller he’s our man. If he can’t do it then no one can.

    Joe Miller is not related to rich Miller. Thank goodness.


  27. - Who Else - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 5:01 pm:

    My nominations go to two people who have been kind to me, and who I’ve witnessed being kind to others when it’s likely they didn’t notice that being noticed. Kindness goes a long way, especially when things get contentious.
    House Dems: Michael Morthland
    House Rs: Ramiro Hernandez


  28. - Bow tie caucus - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 5:02 pm:

    Vote is for Mike Morthland for house dem staffer. Always happy to answer questions and help keep legislation moving as negotiations take place behind the scenes.

    And as a follow bow tie wearer, I can vouch for Mike that his bow ties are not clip on. Even if his beard may hide them. #beardgame


  29. - Principal Skinner - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 5:06 pm:

    House D, Kathy Murray: She’s the literal and figurative glue that holds the Issues Department together.

    House GOP: Dont know enough to nominate


  30. - charles in charge - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 5:09 pm:

    Lots of great nominations here.

    James Hartmann (Dems) and Jen Paswater (GOP) get my votes for the smarts, experience, work ethic and patience they each bring to staffing Jud-Crim, one of the highest-volume committees where some of the most controversial legislation is heard.


  31. - Timemaps - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 5:12 pm:

    House Dems Research - Jelani Saadiq is the definition of professionalism and hard working. Always go over and beyond on any issue dealing with state government. Mr. Saadiq is always prepared for bills to be called on the house floor.


  32. - On the sidelines - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 5:12 pm:

    House Dems: There is no one more deserving of this award than Erik Lowder. He carried the capital bill to the finish line. He pulled all nighters with staff to get it drafted and he always stayed on task. He is a huge asset to staff and really understands the legislative process more than most staffers I have met.


  33. - Say no more - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 5:47 pm:

    Kit Walsh for House Dems - Like everyone else mentioned, she’s incredibly intelligent and hardworking. She is also personable and a real joy to be around.

    Jen Paswater for House GOP - She tackles so many important issues for House GOP with grace. She’s brilliant, hardworking and also incredibly funny.


  34. - Anon - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 9:36 pm:

    Joe Miller for House Dems. He burned the midnight oil to get the gaming legislation across the finish line, no easy feat.


  35. - Tom and Jerry - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 9:51 pm:

    House Democratic Staff:

    Marishonta Wilkerson. She did cannabis legalization and the Reproductive Health Act. ENOUGH SAID!

    But I’ll say more. Either of these issues were and are rife with political, policy, moral, and legal issues that could easily fill an entire career, yet she tackled in a single session, capped in the manic final week of May! The RHA was once thought dead, but she was critical as a staff member in helping resurrect it and get the bill across the finish line. Marijuana had its own challenges with even a tweak here or there that could ripple across a roll call and tank the bill. Her intelligence, ethics and hard work were critical to getting both of these bills passed out of the House and they are both law and Illinois is better because of it and because of her work. She’s gone from the HDEMS legal staff now, but hats off!

    House GOP Staff:

    Dane Thull. It’s not easy to staff the super duper minority, chock full of members who seem intent on pulling defeats out of the rare opportunity they have for wins, but he keeps his head on straight and gives it to the members straight. Education was tough when the governor was demanding cuts (Before the revenue surprise) but he kept a cool head and worked across the aisle to keep the process from running off the rails.


  36. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 10:00 pm:

    HDEM: Joe Miller, he carried huge issues and was instrumental in the Gaming legislation.
    HGOP: I second and third Frank Straus


  37. - 618 - Friday, Dec 6, 19 @ 9:10 am:

    HDEM: Joe Miller. All of the House Dems staff are deserving from their work on an incredible year, but Joe’s work stands out on gaming and many others. He put in more hours than thought possible and got things over the finish line (just like he does with everything in life). Joe has always done his job with respect and humility to everyone he has worked with and is all-around one of the best guys in the Capitol.

    HGOP: Emily Gibbons. Knows her caucus, the issues and a pleasure to work with in any committee.


  38. - Miss Marie - Friday, Dec 6, 19 @ 9:41 am:

    HDems: Patrick Hostert. He’s a very bright young man and extremely hardworking. He covers a vast array of human services topics, but wow is he a quick learner and a joy to work with.


  39. - NotChrisLowery - Friday, Dec 6, 19 @ 1:10 pm:

    dems - Chris Lowry has always been a reliable staffer and always keep a positive attitude in his seer sucker suits. He also handles the tough responsibility of keeping the daily legislative agenda’s organized during session days.


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