Chesney Guest Column: As we usher in 2022, Illinoisans yearn for promised new beginning

Illinois House Speaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch (D-Westchester) and Illinois Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) both posted a photo of the duo and Pritzker having a mask-less toast in an English pub, congratulating themselves on their accomplishments while on a trip to London in November 2021.

As we usher in 2022, many Illinoisans turn our thoughts to accomplishments and challenges of the past year and look forward to the hope delivered by a new year. Like many, the end of the year found me reflecting on the past year.

Let’s hope 2022 is not reflective of 2021. Just under one year ago, the Illinois General Assembly entered what proved to be one of the most eventful lame-duck Sessions in decades. The Illinois House met for the Lame-Duck Session in the Bank of Springfield Center after nearly a year of abdicating the legislature’s constitutional charge to provide checks and balances on the Executive Branch of State Government. This Lame-Duck Session, not under the Capitol dome, would see the hurried passage of legislation to punish the police in Illinois, killing cash bail and raising the specter of further attacks on qualified immunity for the law enforcement who protect our families every day.

Hours after adjourning the Lame-Duck Session of the 101st General Assembly, the 102nd General Assembly was sworn into office. The Illinois House elected its first new Speaker in decades with the election of Chris Welch to succeed his mentor, Michael Madigan. The stain of Democrat machine politics may have taken down the reputation of Madigan-funded Supreme Court Justice Tom Kilbride and Madigan himself after the 2020 election cycle, but rest assured the torch was passed. This change was no change at all.

Speaker Welch would go on to deliver critical victories for JB Pritzker and the radical woke in Illinois with repeal of parental notification for a minor child’s abortion, institution of new learning standards for sex education in our schools which included questionable age inappropriate content, jammed through new gerrymandered maps to create both a permanent Democrat majority in Illinois as well as protect Nancy Pelosi’s prospects in the US Congress, and continued insidious efforts to defund the police, making our communities less safe.

Illinoisans were promised a new beginning by Speaker Welch, but rather were delivered a first chapter that read a lot like the prologue which got us here. No effort was made to include the voices of 4.8 million Illinoisans represented by duly elected officials who happen to have an R behind their names instead of a D. Speaker Welch, Governor Pritzker and Senate President Don Harmon gave short shrift to these tax-paying citizens, even going so far as to only fund road and bridge construction projects in the FY 22 budget in Democrat districts only. Shameful, yet predictable.

Democrat politicians made clear their aims were purely partisan through the gerrymandered “F-rated” for fairness redistricting maps passed without a single Republican vote. Even Democrat constituencies throughout Illinois were appalled to find their parochial interests were put below the partisan aims of the mapmakers. The NAACP, Mexican American Legal Defense Fund and others are suing Illinois Democrat politicians for their gerrymandered maps drawn behind closed doors which split communities of interest and divided people of color for partisan advantage. Democrats believed they did such good work, they even gave themselves a pay raise in the State Budget, yet again.

The pendulum swung much further to the left in Illinois over the past year than it has in decades. Does this sound like the new beginning Illinoisans were hoping? Was the problem simply that we didn’t have enough West Coast values in play in Illinois?

2022 will be our opportunity to decide, and if you agree with me, resolve to make the changes needed to get back on track. May we all choose wisely and stick to our resolutions throughout the next year.

State Representative Andrew Chesney advocates on behalf of the 89th District in Illinois. As a legislator, his policy priorities include cutting taxes, creating jobs, and government accountability and transparency. Learn more at