Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » Sen. Tom Bennett won’t run in 2024; Sen. Patricia Van Pelt will finally retire next week
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Sen. Tom Bennett won’t run in 2024; Sen. Patricia Van Pelt will finally retire next week

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Sen. Bennett was appointed to the seat this year after incumbent GOP Sen. Jason Barickman stepped down…

Illinois State Senator Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City) announced his plans to retire from his storied and successful career in the General Assembly at the completion of his current term representing the 53rd District.

“Serving in the General Assembly has been one of the most challenging, amazing and rewarding times in my life,” said Bennett. “The only way I know how to do this job is full-time, often six or seven days-a-week and my family and I have decided that after this term it is time to slow down,” Bennett said.

Senator Bennett served in the Illinois House of Representatives representing the 106th District from 2015 until 2023 when he was appointed to the State Senate on behalf of the 53rd District of Illinois, including Bureau, Ford, Grundy, Iroquois, LaSalle, Livingston, Marshall, McLean, Peoria, Putnam, Tazewell, Will, and Woodford Counties.

“Senator Bennett is as well-known for his kindness and compassion as he is for his legislative skills,” said Illinois Senate Republican Leader John Curran (R-Downers Grove). “The accomplishments and impact that he continues to make will be felt throughout the capitol and the state for many years to come. I am grateful for the chance to serve alongside him and look forward to working with him in his final session and endeavors beyond the capitol.”

Senator Bennett grew up in Gibson City before earning a BS in Education and a BS in Computer Science from Eastern Illinois University, an MBA from Illinois State University and a Doctor of Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University. He spent his career in education as a high school and junior high science teacher and later as an IT professional at State Farm Insurance.

His passion for education stemmed into his public service in Springfield where he was a leader on Education participating in many meaningful negotiations and legislative packages in the House and passed multiple bipartisan education bills, specifically ones focused on addressing the state’s teacher shortage in the Senate. Raised on a family farm, he also took an active role in agriculture, small business, public safety and transportation issues.

Despite his many legislative accomplishments, it is the people he has met along the way that brings Sen. Bennett the most joy.

“It’s amazing what my staff has done over the last nine years for countless constituents across our district and our state to make a positive difference in people’s lives,” Sen. Bennett said. “I am also grateful for my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the General Assembly – we come from different parts of the state, with different backgrounds, sometimes holding very different viewpoints, but we have tried to respect each other and work together on issues important to the people of Illinois.”

Always finding new ways to give back to his community, Sen. Bennett served on several school and education boards including 19 years on the distinguished Parkland College Board of Trustees and became the first Illinois trustee to ever serve as Chair of the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT).

“The process of running for office, meeting people, telling them why you’re running, your goals and how you hope to achieve them – is not an easy one. I make this announcement today so the hardworking and fair-minded people I represent are in the best position to elect a new leader.”

In the meantime, Senator Bennett said he looks forward to making the most of the remainder of his term.

“Today is not the end of my work as a Senator, it is simply the beginning of the sprint to the finish,” Bennett said. “I have a lot of legislative work left to do and a lot of people yet to meet. Because, as I learned from a friend a long time ago: it’s all about the people.”

Sen. Bennett’s term will end at the completion of the 103rd General Assembly in January 2025.

* Sen. Van Pelt was absent for most of the spring session…

State Senator Patricia Van Pelt issued the following statement after filing to retire from the 5th Senate District seat:

“It has been an honor of a lifetime to serve the people of the 5th Senate District for the last decade. Throughout this time, we have accomplished much change to ensure the voiceless are heard and the underserved receive the help they need.

“I want to thank all who have stood by me over this past year throughout my health challenges. It has been a blessing to serve the people of this great state, but it’s time to pass the torch. I will forever be grateful for the people I’ve encountered, the stories they’ve shared and the work we’ve accomplished together.”

The retirement will be official August 1, 2023 at 5:00 p.m.

Notice the lack of any other voice in that second release.


  1. - Just Me 2 - Wednesday, Jul 26, 23 @ 3:06 pm:

    I wonder why her resignation is effective August 1 and not July 31. Oh wait….

  2. - Dupage Dem - Wednesday, Jul 26, 23 @ 4:19 pm:

    Tom is one of the most liked legislators around. He gets along with everyone. He will definitely be missed in Springfield.

  3. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Jul 26, 23 @ 4:22 pm:

    I’m a solid Dem, but met Sen. Bennett after he became my Senator. The district is unlikely to have a D in the seat; as such, Sen. Bennett is the kind of person I want to have in the office. He’s very nice, open to discussion, and does not seem to be a right-wing ideologue. I was hoping he would stay around for another term. This is a bummer.

  4. - New Day - Wednesday, Jul 26, 23 @ 4:24 pm:

    It’s about time. The state should sue Van Pelt for back pay and prosecute her for being a ghost payroller. Only sort of kidding.

  5. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 26, 23 @ 4:27 pm:

    It should be noted, however, that Bennett was part of a caucus in the General Assembly that denied Illinois a budget the entire time that GA sat, hurting many things like social services.

    As with many, Bennett is a good man, well liked and appreciated, but to ignore that hurtful manner those votes did, for an entire General Assembly, that should be noted too, because Illinois is still recovering from those budget-less years.

  6. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Jul 26, 23 @ 4:48 pm:

    = Bennett is a good man, well liked and appreciated, but to ignore that hurtful manner those votes did,=

    I know Tom personally and have for 20 years. He is one of most sincere, genuinely kind human beings I have ever met. I still don’t fully understand his reasons for his votes during the impasse, but I am willing to forgive. The entire GOP caucus was a “no” during those years until a brave few decided enough was enough. But rauner was done by then and they knew it.

    Best wishes Tom.

  7. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 26, 23 @ 5:07 pm:

    ===I am willing to forgive===

    With respect, did he ever apologize?

    Again, with respect, and folks *can* be delightful, and be a *good* friend, and all things you’d like in people, but for those two years, that was purposeful.

  8. - CornfieldCowboy - Wednesday, Jul 26, 23 @ 5:46 pm:

    Time to bring back Hollywood Hendon and Dan Rutherford.

  9. - cover - Wednesday, Jul 26, 23 @ 5:57 pm:

    = Time to bring back Hollywood Hendon and Dan Rutherford. =


  10. - Bailey Darren - Wednesday, Jul 26, 23 @ 6:09 pm:

    Maybe Darren Bailey will move on up to run for Bennett’s seat after he loses to Bost.

  11. - ANNON'IN - Wednesday, Jul 26, 23 @ 7:56 pm:

    Tom is a decent guy. Fell for the GovJunk threats. Guessing he expected a primary from some whack job pushed by the LaHoods or the Weavers

  12. - Stuck in Celliniland - Thursday, Jul 27, 23 @ 8:13 am:

    =State Senator Patricia Van Pelt issued the following statement after filing to retire from the 5th Senate District seat=

    Carol Moseley Braun was unavailable for comment.

  13. - James Knell - Friday, Jul 28, 23 @ 4:08 pm:

    I had a State Senator?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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