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Question of the day: 2022 Golden Horseshoe Awards

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The 2022 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Legislative Assistant/District Office Manager - Senate Democrats goes to the late Ivan Gonzalez

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.

Ivan stomped on the terra.

Runners-up are Jack Lockhart in Senator Gillespie’s office and Mavi Silva in Sen. Castro’s office.

* The 2022 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Legislative Assistant/District Office Manager - Senate Republicans goes to Cathy Scaife, mainly based on this strong nomination from Sen. Jason Barickman

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.

Runner-up is Sheila Sims in Sen. Anderson’s office.


* On to today’s categories

    Best Legislative Assistant/District Office Manager - House Democrats

    Best Legislative Assistant/District Office Manager - House Republicans

Remember to try and do your best to nominate in both categories. I know that’s not always possible, but give it a whirl if you can. Also, please explain your nominations. That’s the most important thing.

* And after you’ve voted, or even if you don’t vote, please click here and donate to Lutheran Social Services of Illinois and help buy presents for foster kids. I mean, just look at the face of this foster child after he received an LSSI present. See how happy he is? You can spread even more of that joy by clicking here and donating



  1. - Batksn12 - Wednesday, Nov 30, 22 @ 10:09 am:

    For “Best Legislative Assistant/District Office Manager - House Democrats“ I’d like to nominate Ricardo Montoya-Picazo, chief of staff and office manager for State Rep. Dave Vella.

    Ricardo is a tireless civil servant who dedicates himself to the 68th district constituents both on and off the clock. He has overseen one of the most engaged and active offices I have ever seen, hosting hundreds of community events and services annually. Outside of the office, Ricardo serves on several boards for local organizations, and can always be spotted out-and-about supporting his community. This guy is amazing and the definition of above and beyond when it comes to civil service!

  2. - TheLastTimeAgain - Wednesday, Nov 30, 22 @ 10:53 am:

    Best Legislative Assistant/District Office Manager - House Republicans

    I’d like to nominate Megan McGuire with Rep. Davidsmeyer’s office. An incredible advocate for constituents, Megan is not afraid to ask tough questions to get results for those she’s helping. She’s organized and tireless, tenaciously digging into complex issues to get questions answered or issues rectified. The result is a professional operation that does a tremendous job serving constituents on a diverse set of issues in an area where services and resources are sometimes in short supply. It would be difficult to estimate how many folks she’s helped in the western part of the state in this role.

  3. - 2 champions - Wednesday, Nov 30, 22 @ 11:24 am:

    For House dem LA: my vote is Hector Villagrana. A weel-seasoned, government and political professional. I have known him for over 20 years in various governmental roles and I always found him to be sincere, helpful, and dedicated to his craft.

    House GOP LA: Mike Mahoney. He was in the eye of the storm but always remained calm and composed. Young man with a bright future.

  4. - JoeMaddon - Wednesday, Nov 30, 22 @ 11:48 am:

    House Dems: Torrance Gardner in Rep Cassidy’s office is a rock star. The work he’s doing behind the scenes on the reproductive health negotiations has been praised by everyone around. He’s smart, thoughtful, organized, and has great instincts.

  5. - Steve Reick - Wednesday, Nov 30, 22 @ 11:59 am:

    I can’t go another year without nominating my District L.A., Carrie Andre. Since I joined the G.A. in 2017, she has been the face of my district office and the rock upon which I so strongly rely. Her attention to detail and commitment to constituent service makes me look so much better than I could ever do for myself, and her ability to navigate toward and find solutions to constituent problems, always with a calm demeanor and grace, is extraordinary. I can’t count the number of people she’s helped, and I don’t know what I’d do without her.

  6. - Kelly Cassidy - Wednesday, Nov 30, 22 @ 12:09 pm:

    Came here to take a page out of Barickman’s book and gush over Torrence Gardner. He’s really the answer to the most frequently asked question in my life: “How do you keep it all straight and not lose your mind?” Torrence may have only been with me for a year, but it really seems like he’s been doing it forever. Whether it’s literally managing the flaming chain saw juggling act that is my legislative agenda, keeping our team engaged and on task, juggling an incredibly demanding constituent service case load, or making sure I don’t screw up the schedule with my terrible habit of booking appointments with abbreviations I swear I’ll remember, he faces every situation with an open heart, good humor, and a dedication to excellence.
    HGOP - ditto Mahoney, and not just because of our shared love of Nisei Lounge.

  7. - JRM - Wednesday, Nov 30, 22 @ 2:47 pm:

    I have to say that as a Rep. Cassidy constituent I am truly spoiled to have Torrance Gardner as the District Manager. I have seen him interact with a ton of people as well as is always looking for creative ways to get a bill across the finish line. The work he does to prioritize the voices of those that often times do not get brought into discussions.

    HGOP - Mahoney

  8. - Payback - Wednesday, Nov 30, 22 @ 3:14 pm:

    I’d like to nominate Austin Mejdrich in Rep. Walkers district office. He is one of the hardest working people in state government. Rep. Walker and the residents of the 53rd are lucky to have him.

  9. - Interested Bystander - Wednesday, Nov 30, 22 @ 3:25 pm:

    Austin Mejdrich in Rep. Walker’s office is an incredibly talented District Chief of Staff who brings a level of professionalism to the role not often seen. But it’s what he does beyond the job description that sets him apart. Austin has made a point of involving himself in the community personally to better understand the concerns of constituents and nuances of the district. He’s seen by constituents as an active member of the community in his own right, creating a higher level of trust that serves Rep. Walker and the District very well. It also enables Austin to bring a broader, more comprehensive approach to working constituent issues and advising Rep Walker. That kind of investment in his role and to the district is what makes Austin very deserving of the Golden Horseshoe Award.

  10. - Jennifer Greene - Wednesday, Nov 30, 22 @ 3:25 pm:

    For sure nominating Torrance Gardner! He has worked so hard to support constituents daily but also put in extra work to ensure victims of crime are supported and responded to. He never hesitates to go above and beyond and we are so lucky to have him onboard with Rep. Cassidy. Thank you Torrance!

  11. - S - Wednesday, Nov 30, 22 @ 4:34 pm:

    House Dem LC: Fallon Sellers from Rep. Gong-Gershowitz’s office, 100%. I have never met a more dedicated legislative coordinator in the House. She is so attentive to daily activities and keeps everyone around her grounded. She is always in the best mood and happy to help and answer questions. Thank you for your work, Fallon!

  12. - Bystander - Wednesday, Nov 30, 22 @ 4:52 pm:

    For Best House Dems District Staff, I nominate Elvira Malagon in Rep. Andrade’s office. Elvira does a great job running the office and supporting the community on behalf of the Representative.

  13. - Mocking Jay - Wednesday, Nov 30, 22 @ 5:23 pm:

    I also vote for Ricardo Montoya Picazo. He leaves no stone unturned when planning events and thinks of everything. He is extremely helpful and capable and a joy to work with.

    For House GOP my vote Megan McGuire in Davidsmeyer’s office. She truly cares about the work and the constituents and has great follow through.

  14. - TheLastTimeAgain - Wednesday, Nov 30, 22 @ 5:39 pm:

    Best Legislative Assistant/District Office Manager - House Democrats

    I think Dawn Shelton with Rep. Halpin’s office deserves the nod on this one. Her knowledge of the whole region and her attention to detail make for a superb resource for state workers and constituents alike. Add her positive attitude and incredible drive and you can see just how valuable a district staffer can be for the whole community. Every office should get to have a Dawn Shelton.

  15. - Agreed Resolutions - Wednesday, Nov 30, 22 @ 5:46 pm:

    Ricardo Montoya Picazo for the House Dems. His energy, attention to detail, knowledge of the Rockford area is second to none.

  16. - The Duke of DuPage - Wednesday, Nov 30, 22 @ 6:06 pm:

    Mike Mahoney is a great dude but he is NOT district office/LA staff. I nominate Rep. Seth Lewis’s district director Maureen Juhas - she is no stranger to DuPage County, previously serving constituents in Naperville, and since 2021 constituents in Bartlett, Carol Stream to Addison and Wood Dale. Keep up the great work!!!

  17. - M&M - Wednesday, Nov 30, 22 @ 6:31 pm:

    We nominate Elvira Malagon has been stellar in helping constituents with all kinds of concerns. She has gone above and beyond to address community concerns. She has set up meetings, brought together stakeholders and sought solutions. Elvira demonstrates what commitment means. She is wonderful at organizing events and seeing them through. It is an honor to have a colleague like her.

  18. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 9:50 am:

    Peeps, Mahoney doesn’t qualify for this category.

  19. - First Timer - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 10:00 am:

    Torrence in Rep. Cassidy’s office is fantastic! He was able to hit the ground running and has left his mark in the office. He has a deep care for his constituents and is also great with policy work.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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