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Question of the day: 2022 Golden Horseshoe Awards

Tuesday, Nov 29, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The 2022 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Session Restaurant goes to Fritz’s

The food is good and the seating is perfect for working dinners

I would add that they have the best steak in town, by far.

* The 2022 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Session Tavern/Hangout goes to JP Kelly’s

A few of the longtime downtown establishments have bitten the dust or significantly reduced hours the last few years, and JP’s has provided a safe landing space for some of those openhanded by the loss of the other traditional spots. And it’s done so while continuing to provide a true bipartisan atmosphere for both fundraising events and general happy hour socializing.

Congrats to both of our winners, and their staffs.

* On to today’s categories…

    Best Legislative Assistant/District Office Manager - Senate Democrats

    Best Legislative Assistant/District Office Manager - Senate Republicans

I know it’s not always possible for everyone to nominate in both categories, but please do your best. And, remember, this is about intensity, not numbers, so please explain both of your nominations or they won’t count. Thanks.

And after you’ve nominated your faves, click here and donate to Lutheran Social Services of Illinois if you haven’t already. Thanks again!


  1. - The Real Downstate - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 12:13 pm:

    I nominate Lisa Katava with Senator Linda Holmes for Best Senate Dem LA. Lisa is literally the nicest person I’ve ever met. She is always kind and accommodating and extremely loyal to her friends and co-workers. She was an excellent assistant to Senator John Mulroe and she has done wonderfully for Senator Holmes as well.

    On the Republican side, I’m going to go outside the dome and nominate Dixie Zietlow with Senator Win Stoller for Best Senate GOP District Office Manager. She is always on the ball and works hard to assist her Senator’s communities with their projects and needs.

  2. - Here for the laughs - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 12:17 pm:

    Best Senate Dem staffer: I’ve had nothing but the best experiences with Mavi Silva of Sen. Castro’s office. Really goes above and beyond to deliver service to her constituents. On top of all the issues.

    Best Rep. Staffer: Last one I dealt with extensively retired. Oh well.

  3. - Tuesday Morning Quarterback - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 12:34 pm:

    ===goes to Fritz’s====
    No knock on Fritz’s as I really like the place but since covid they haven’t been open on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. So not sure it should be considered a “session” restaurant. But that’s water under the bridge and I should have noted that yesterday. Congrats

  4. - Happy - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 1:35 pm:

    I nominate Donna Hickman for the Golden Horseshoe Award for the Democrats. She’s always friendly and willing to help!

    For Republican LA I nominate Sheila Sims who works for Senator Anderson. Always happy and friendly to be around!

  5. - twowaystreet - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 2:14 pm:

    For Senate Dems, I have to recognize Ivan Gonzalez. He worked for Sen. Aquino before unexpectedly passing away this year. I had the pleasure of interacting with him a number of times over the years. He was always genuine and gracious.

    I am sure he is deeply missed by everyone in the district.

  6. - Panther Pride - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 2:22 pm:

    For the Dems, Sen. Gillespie’s Chief of Staff/District Office Manager Jack Lockhart is incredibly deserving of the award.

    Sen. Gillespie has a complex and impressive legislative agenda, and it takes a special kind of talent, professionalism, smarts, and wit to help a legislator like the Senator achieve their goals. Plus, he’s always quick to help a constituent resolve any issues they’re facing, even the most mundane or frustrating. And to top it all off, he’d absolutely hate that he’s being nominated. Humility is often a rare trait in our business and one that makes Jack a real standout.

  7. - Jason Barickman - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 2:38 pm:

    Affectionately known as Mama Scaife around the SGOP caucus and elsewhere, I’d like to proudly nominate Cathy Scaife.

    I like to keep a lot of balls in the air and am often asked how I can keep my head on straight. The answer, quite simply, is having top notch staff and Cathy is at the top of my list. Session days can be crazy, yet Cathy takes it all in stride. Her cheerful attitude and attention to details makes my Session days manageable. Her lunch buffet is the best food in the Capitol - many of my colleagues, our staff, lobbyists, and even a few constituents, have repeatedly shown up at my office around lunch because of Cathy’s generosity…and persistence that they eat our food.

    My constituents love Cathy and know that if they really want to get something done, they should call her. I’ve heard countless praises from my constituents, thanking me for having Cathy be a part of our team. Her persistence results in constituent issues moving along when they appeared to be stuck. She defies the wildly misguided notion that state employees aren’t hard workers.

    And I’ve never seen her have a bad day.

    Our State has lots of tremendous employees, and this year, I’m honored to tell you why Cathy is among them.

  8. - Been There - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 3:09 pm:

    I have to agree with twowaystreet. Ivan Gonzalez was a great guy. Hard worker, knew his politics and genuinely a really nice guy. Always had a smile on his face and could make a joke out of thin air. But he seemed to have at least 40 years of experience in him even though I am not sure he was even 40 yet. I had looked forward to working with him for years to come. A shame he left us too early.

  9. - Elgin resident - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 3:14 pm:

    I nominate Mavilen Silva with Senator Castro’s office for Best Senate Dem staffer. Mavilen is always very kind and helpful. She goes above and beyond for constituents.

  10. - Suburban Operative - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 3:21 pm:

    SDems LA/District Office: Mavilen Silva with Senator Castro’s office - she understands what this business is about, being the go-between between her member and the outside, she serves her constituents with dignity and grace.

    SGOP LA/District Office: Gabriela Garza with Senator Curran’s office. I know she recently joined the Illinois Manufacturers Association, but she ought be considered for this award given the amount of hours she spent learning the ropes and learning that suburban district.

    Kudos to both!

  11. - Near West Side - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 3:35 pm:

    I agree with Sen. Barickman, Cathy Scaife is a treasure. Helpful, friendly, funny and keeps the trains running.

    For the Dems, Lisa Katava is simply the best. Being an LA is a hard job, but she treats everyone with kindness and is so professional.

  12. - Freecake - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 3:55 pm:

    Senate Dem Staff–Jack Lockhart in Senator Gillespie’s office. Jack is a consummate professional. From community outreach programs, remote office hours, and constituent services, Jack takes the lead and delivers for residents in the district. Senator Gillespie and her constituents are fortunate to have him.

    Unfortunately, cannot comment on Senate R staff.

  13. - From the middle - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 4:26 pm:

    I agree wholeheartedly with From the West Side, Cathy Scaife and Lisa Katava are the best. They “protect” their respective Senators and are very professional and personable at all times. They are both truly a pleasure to work with!

  14. - -LA Peer - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 4:29 pm:

    I would like to nominate Cathy Scaife on the SGOP side!! She is dependable and always a great help as a team member and reliable. She goes above and beyond for her member and other LAs and staff…to get the daily job done. :)

  15. - Interested Bystander - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 8:12 pm:

    Another vote for Jack Lockhart. In addition to the comments noted by others here, he’s passionate about mentoring others new to the district office roles. Senators reach out to ask him to let their staff shadow Jack. Impressive to see someone focusing on developing the profession in addition to their own career.

  16. - Walker - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 8:15 pm:

    Jack Lockhart is both sharp on issues and really dives in to solve complex constituent problems. He just doesn’t give up until he has some solution or a fair rationale to provide the constituent. No one no matter how difficult gets blown off.

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