PHOTO GALLERY: Colleagues Roast Garrett, May
With their political careers’ sunset on the horizon, state Sen. Susan Garrett and state Rep. Karen May were roasted and toasted at a dinner in their honor given by the Lake County Democratic Women Monday.
“Now most people think of ‘MSG’ as ‘Ms. Susan Garrett’ (but) it’s also known as monosodium glutamate,” Schoenberg said. “What do the two have in common? Too much, you get a headache!”
Garrett, who will retire at the end of this year after serving three terms in the Illinois Senate, was just one target at Monday night’s Lake County Democratic Women’s toast and roast featuring a cross-section of local and state politicians at Deer Path Inn in Lake Forest.
The other bull’s-eye was on state Rep. Karen May (D-Highland Park), who will also retire this year after serving six terms in the Illinois General Assembly.
“I think when (May) asked me to be a roaster tonight, she knew that I was not in a position to roast her about her age,” House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie said. “But I don’t think there’s a ban on telling jokes about the fact that she’s blonde. And I have to tell you that when she first came to Springfield, there was a moment when I thought that maybe she was a Republican.”
Politicians and Others Join in the Roast
Among the other roasters in attendance were former state Rep. Lauren Beth Gash (D-Highland Park), Lake County Recorder Mary Ellen Vanderventer, Waukegan Twp. Sup. Patricia Jones, state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), state Rep. Rita Mayfield (D-Waukegan), Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, Lake County candidates Scott Drury and Julie Morrison and area business leaders such as Commonwealth Edison President and CEO Anne Pramaggiore.
But there was also a break to recognize what Garrett and May have brought in public service.
“They have been long, very consistent voices for women’s health,” said Pam Sutherland, vice president of Public Policy, Planned Parenthood of Illinois and the evening’s keynote speaker. “They never shied away. You can always count on them.”
Schoenberg, Garrett’s seatmate in the Senate who is also retiring, may have had the best seat to watch the Lake Forest resident over the last 14 years.
“One of my favorite memories of Susan Garrett comes from very early in our career,” Schoenberg said when they were both members of the House before entering the Senate later.
“Susan was furiously scribbling on several sheets on a piece of legal paper. ‘Don’t talk to me. Don’t interrupt. I’m busy.’ What are you doing? ‘I’m writing Pate Philip a letter…I worked very hard, and I passed this bill in the House and he won’t even let it be heard in the Senate. It’s still in the Rules Committee, (and) it’s been there for weeks. So, I’m writing Pate Phillip a letter and I’m gonna tell him how it’s not fair.” Schoenberg told her not to send it.
“I sent it,” Garrett called out, and the audience roared.
“She didn’t! I fished it out of the garbage,” Schoenberg replied, and presented her the very letter. “Dear Senate President Phillip…you are totally inappropriate. That’s now how we do things here at the League of Women Voters here in Lake Forest! Or in Lake Bluff. Or even Highland Park. I hate you. Sincerely, Rep. Susan Garrett.”
Ryg Talks About May
Former state Rep. Kathy Ryg (D-Buffalo Grove) noted how May was “most impressive when she showed her enthusiasm for parades and knocking on doors.”
“However, I have to say, it was quite bizarre that she was so enthusiastic about parades and knocking on doors,” Ryg said. “It gets quite old. There were those excuses, ‘anything to be out of the house.’”
Ryg said she took her cues from May on how to deal with House Speaker Michael Madigan.
“(It) exposed me to probably some of the very scariest confrontations with Speaker Madigan, (who) is not overly fond of the women who are elected to the House from northern Cook and Lake County. Or, the “Divas,” as Karen named us,” Ryg mused.
“We didn’t always see eye to eye with the Speaker,” Ryg continued. “When the Speaker marched down the aisle and stopped in front of Karen and my chairs, and, in his very quiet voice would lean over and say, ‘My staff tells me you’re not a ‘yes’ vote’, and every eye on both sides of the chamber would stare as Karen and I would try to explain why we were not a ‘yes’ vote on the bill. So, for me, I was very grateful for all I had to do was quickly look at Karen and she would do a magnificent job of sucking up.”