After nearly two decades as an Illinois Senator, Kirk Dillard has stepped down. The Hinsdale attorney has taken over as chairman of northeastern Illinois' public transit system, known as the RTA.
Even before he became a Senator in 1995, Dillard was a known name in Illinois government; he was Chief of Staff to former Gov. Jim Edgar. Dillard twice tried to win the state's top job for himself, but narrowly missed winning the GOP nomination this year; in 2010 he came within 193 votes.
Dillard says he won't be running again -- for governor or any other office, though he'll still return to Springfield to lobby for transportation funding.
"Even if you're in downstate Illinois it is in your interest to have a mass transit system that is reliable and working well in Chicago, because that means more money into the state treasury because people go to work readily," he says. "So, schools downstate benefit greatly financially from a good, efficient mass transit system in Chicagoland."
The Regional Transportation Authority oversees the Chicago Transit Authority, PACE bus system and Metra commuter rail line -- collectively, they've seen turf wars, and ethics scandals. Earlier this year, a state task force recommended overhauling it all, and creating one monster transit agency. Dillard says he's not ready to weigh in on governance structures just yet -- give him time.
As he's leaving early, it's up to local Republican leaders to choose someone to fill the remainder of his term; they've reportedly picked Elmhurst attorney Chris Nybo, who's running for the seat in the November election against Democrat Suzanne Glowiak of Western Springs.