April 15, 2010

Julie Hamos - A Real Leader Moves On

This was State Rep. Julie Hamos' last week in the Illinois House. As she prepares to take on a tough assignment as Gov. Quinn's pick to head the Illinois Dept. of Health and Family Services, I'm thinking a lot of the many important battles she led or helped lead during her decade in the Illinois House.

It's an impressive list. Clearly, Illinois is a healthier, greener, more prosperous place for her efforts. Just as clear is the big vacancy in the Illinois House environmental leadership corps.

Here are a few of Julie's accomplishments:

Better Building Codes To Save Energy & Cut Costs

Julie was the chief sponsor of legislation passed in 2009 that will require all new construction in Illinois to be built to state-of-the-art standards for energy efficiency, which will reduce pollution and save homeowners money on utility bills.

Restoring State Funding For Open Space Protection
When George Ryan raided state funds dedicated to acquiring parks and open space for future generations, Julie Hamos led the fight to restore full funding for our parks. Later, Hamos helped fight off further attempts by Rod Blagojevich to raid park funds.

Promoting Local, Organic Agriculture
Julie Hamos passed legislation establishing the Local and Organic Food and Farm Task Force to promote sustainable food systems.

Saving Illinois Public Transportation
Julie Hamos led the fight to prevent drastic cuts in Metra, Pace, and CTA service by devoting new state funds to mass transit, and fought to shift state dollars away from new roads that would further suburban sprawl toward our mass transit systems.

Julie has also been a major force behind legislation to promote renewable energy, bring cleaner cars to Illinois, protect Illinois' remaining wetlands, and protect Lake Michigan from invasive alien species. She was working to protect the Great Lakes from invaders long before most of us had even heard of Asian Carp.

In 2009, Hamos was honored with the Environmental Leadership Award by the Illinois Environment Council for her efforts in creating energy efficiency building standards legislation.

Julie has a great mind for strategy, and isn't shy about taking on tough fights. I know I'm a better advocate for having worked with her, and I'm glad she will be helping Gov. Quinn in such a tough time at such an important agency.

I've met Robyn Gabel, Hamos' successor in the General Assembly, and I think she'll bring her own style of leadership to these issues, after two decades of fighting for children's health. She'll be a strong, fresh voice, and Springfield can sure use that.

But we'll still miss Julie. We wish her well in her new post.

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