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Question of the day: 2022 Golden Horseshoe Awards

Thursday, Dec 1, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The 2022 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Legislative Assistant/District Office Manager - House Democrats goes to Ricardo Montoya-Picazo with Rep. Dave Vella’s district office

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!

Runner-up is awarded to Rep. Kelly Cassidy’s chief of staff Torrence Gardner.

* The 2022 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Legislative Assistant/District Office Manager - House Republicans goes to Megan McGuire with Rep. CD 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.

Runner-up is awarded to Carrie Andre with Rep. Steve Reick’s district office.


* On to today’s categories…

    Best State Senate Staffer - Non Political

    Best State House Staffer - Non Political

Communications staff will have their own category this year, so save those nominations for later. Please try your best to nominate in both categories and don’t forget to explain your nominations. The object is to sell your pick to the rest of us.

* And, if you get a minute today, please consider clicking here and donating to Lutheran Social Services of Illinois to help buy presents for foster kids like these



  1. - Commissar Gritty - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 10:00 am:

    Does State House HR qualify? Because Pamela Lassiter is an incredibly compassionate, resourceful, and experienced staffer who is amazing at her job.

  2. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 10:09 am:

    Senate Staffer, Meredith O’Brien is the gold standard when it comes to staffers who know their issues and how to get things done.

    She handles some of the most complex issues in human services, including the sometimes dreaded Behavioral Health and Addiction bills that are never easy to write or pass. She has multiple groups and lobbyist in her ear from the first day of session until adjournment.

    Everyone from her members to advocates to other staffers and lobbyist know if you have a human service related bill in the Senate, you had better have had a conservation with Meredith long before you try moving the bill.

    Like most staffers, she works ridiculous hours during session but always has time to answer questions or provide input.

  3. - Give Me A Break - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 10:10 am:

    Sorry, the “Anonymous” above was me.

  4. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 10:43 am:

    Senate Staffer: Credit is due to many Senate Staff but we should definitely recognize the work of the Senate Dem Policy & Budget staff. Their team works extremely hard and ACTUALLY hears the concerns of associations, advocacy groups, etc., Shoutout to Aaron Holmes & Dillon Santoni they have created and mentored a great team of staff.

    House Staff: Erik Lowder continues to hold the 5th the floor together. His institutional knowledge and mentorship should never go unnoticed. He is incredibly kind, funny, and probably the one of hardest workers under the dome.

  5. - Meredith is the best - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 12:40 pm:

    I would like to second Meredith’s nomination. The comments from anonymous are 100% correct. In addition to her policy work, Meredith handles a lot of budget work for the Senate Dems. She is also incredibly kind to colleagues, new staffers and interns.

  6. - Downstate_Joliet - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 12:57 pm:

    Sean McConnell on House Dems is a hard worker with peerless organizational skills, and he seemingly knows everyone in the capitol. More importantly, he is as respectful and friendly to the maintenance staff as he is to leadership. Whoever walks into an elevator, Sean knows their name and something about them that makes for pleasant small talk.

  7. - Hyperbolic Chamber - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 1:14 pm:

    House Staffer - Kendra Piercy
    Senate Staffer - Mary Hanahan

    The same can be said about both: they are assigned some of the most dense and arcane subjects and quickly make sense of them. Despite that, they are quick to return calls, have time for questions and are open to entertaining a variety of viewpoints — and they are always, always, always pleasant about it.

    If I were recruiting for a law firm, they would be at the absolute top of my list.

  8. - Tinsel - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 1:57 pm:

    For best House staffer it’s got to be Jen Paswater. Over the last several years she has taken on some of the most controversial and complicated subject matter. Ask her any question and 9 times out of 10 she will already know the answer. If she doesn’t know the answer she’ll have it within the hour at any time of the day or night, even on weekends. Not only is she good at her job, but she’s also the exact type of kind and funny person we need more of at the Capitol.

  9. - Normal person - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 3:20 pm:

    House - Erik Lowder, hands down. He’s one of those rare staffers who seems to know how to get any answer you’re looking for.
    Senate - Mary Hanahan, has definitely earned her great reputation through a lot of hard work.

  10. - It's me, hi. - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 3:46 pm:

    The best house staffer is definitely Kendra Piercy. She has gone above and beyond with her assistance to her fellow coworkers and Members. She is always timely, kind, and approachable. One of the best things about her is knows how to connect with people and make them feel comfortable. A staffer’s job in my humble opinion is based on relationships and Kendra is top notch at maintaining and building them!

  11. - Tame Duck - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 4:00 pm:

    Best House Staffer is absolutely Kendra Piercy. She is smart (without being condescending), self-aware, calm and can be counted on to handle many major issues for the House Dems. She was recently promoted to Deputy Counsel and is a strong asset to her caucus.

    Best Senate Staffer is Andrea Hoffman. He is also knowledgeable and even/keeled while handling health and human services for his caucus. He knows his subject matter well and helps steer one of the most complex subject matters under the dome.

  12. - AnonPls - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 4:18 pm:

    House: Kat Bray - The House is lucky to have Kat’s brilliant legal mind to handle complex issues for the Dem caucus. She’s a diligent and hardworking individual who also finds time to make friends with everyone on staff.

    Senate: Mary Hanahan - Mary Hanahan definitely deserves major kudos for handling every major issue for the Senate Dems so well and with so much grace. She’s incredibly smart, patient, and thorough. She’s also a pleasure to be around!

  13. - Obamafan - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 4:52 pm:

    House Staffer: Sean McConnell, on the House Democratic Research and Appropriations staff, is one of the hardest-working and kindest staffers. His top-of-the-line work ethic can be seen in JCAR, Revenue, General Services, and mentoring. While staffing the Statue and Monument Review Task Force, he brought Sen. Durbin, the Smithsonian, the National Civil Rights Museum, the Obama Foundation and more to speak.

  14. - Veto - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 5:13 pm:

    I don’t know the Senate Staff as well but I would like to nominate Kendra Piercy and Erik Lowder. These 2 are powerhouses for the House Democrats. They are reliable, intelligent, and hardworking. Their behind the scenes work on Unemployment Insurance literally brought that legislation to the finish line. They are the glue that holds their respective staffs together!

  15. - Jack Sinatra - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 5:39 pm:

    Senate: Mary Hanahan is incredibly smart, thorough, hard working, and a true delight to be around. She handles very big, complex issues. She has earned the trust and confidence of her colleagues and the Senate Democratic Leadership. She is a superstar.

  16. - CO - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 6:08 pm:

    Meredith O’Brien and Erik Lowder.

  17. - House Staffer - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 7:18 pm:

    I recuse myself from the House vote, but for the Senate it’s definitely Ashley Jenkins. Without her, the Safe-T Act plane doesn’t land. Period.

  18. - PoliticIL Scientist - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 7:52 pm:

    House: Erik Lowder. There is no one in Springfield who understands the process better, has the wisdom, experience, and work ethic as Erik Lowder. Super funny and sharp wit. He has more than earned his stripes and is simply the best there is. The gold standard of staffers.

    Senate: Meredith O’Brien. Knows her issues, handles members and lobbyists, super smart and great to work with. Medicaid issues are no joke and she is on it. Bright future ahead here.

  19. - Thoughts - Thursday, Dec 1, 22 @ 9:57 pm:

    Senate Staffer: This one really needs to go to Giovanni Randazzo. For 18 years on the nose today, Gio has given his all to the Senate Dem caucus and I think might be the longest serving lawyer/staffer on both sides of the aisle. He’s incredibly dedicated to the caucus and works hard to see all sides of an issue before making judgments. He’s a straight shooter and has trained and guided tens of dozens of lawyers, many of whom still roam the halls of the Capitol or sit in executive agencies. Members, staff, and lobbyists look to him for help and assistance with every issue possible. Plus he’s a helluva nice guy.

    House staffer: John Maxson, the Speaker’s policy advisor and architect of the House map legislation. His work on the state side helped the House Dems win 78 seats and reshape the House caucus.

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