Monday, July 31, 2006

Speaker Michael J. Madigan comments on McKeon's retirement

Like many, I was saddened to hear that my friend and legislative colleague, State Representative Larry McKeon, has announced his retirement from the Illinois House of Representatives. Larry’s career in the General Assembly has been the capstone to a long and distinguished career in public service.

Whether as a U.S. Army infantry officer, lieutenant in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, educator, social service manager or executive director of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, Larry’s life has been defined by a dedication to serving others. His earlier work as Mayor Richard Daley’s liaison to the city’s gay, lesbian and trangendered community did much to advance the cause of equality in our city. He continued those efforts in the General Assembly and was the tenacious sponsor of landmark legislation to expand the protections of the state’s human rights act to forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

In addition to his work on equality issues, Larry has been a champion for legislation to increase access to affordable health care, help senior citizens to remain independent, improve education and protect the environment. As the Chairman of the Labor Committee, Larry has shepherded numerous measures into law that have improved working conditions, wages and benefits for millions of Illinois residents. While he has been broad-minded as a legislator, working in the best interests of the state, he has also remained focused on the needs of his district and secured millions of dollars in grants to benefit local community organizations and rebuild local infrastructure.

Larry has always carried himself with tremendous degrees of reserve and humility – no small feat in the world of politics and rather uncommon traits for someone who is also rightly called a trailblazer. These qualities helped him to pass legislation that would otherwise have remained stalled and earned him the respect and admiration of colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

He will be greatly missed at the state Capitol and the General Assembly will be a little bit diminished by his absence. I wish him well in his retirement and know that when he is not enjoying his well deserved leisure time, he will continue to be an active community volunteer, committed as always to doing what he can to improve life in our city, state and nation.


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