Updated: Garrett Will Not Seek Reelection To State Senate: 'The Time Was Right'
May and Nekritz plan to stay in State House, praise colleague.
Veteran state Sen. Susan Garrett (D-Lake Forest) said today she will not seek reelection in the 2012 general election, setting up an open seat race in a district she has represented since it was drawn by the General Assembly 10 years ago.
Garrett will serve the remainder of her term, which expires in January, 2013. She will retire from public life, according to a news release she sent today.
Garrett currently represents all or part of Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, Highwood, Highland Park, Deerfield, Glencoe, Northbrook, Glenview and Des Plaines. The new 29th State Senate District will include less of Glencoe, Glenview and Northbrook, but take in part of Buffalo Grove.
“It was a pretty easy decision,” Garrett said. “I’ve accomplished a lot and will continue to work on key issues. The map looks good, a lot of communities are whole, it leans Democrat. The time was right.”
Garrett specifically ruled out a challenge to Rep. Robert Dold (R-Kenilworth) in the newly drawn 10th Congressional District. She indicated she has no plans to run for elective office at this time.
After 10 years as a state senator and two terms as a state representative previously, Garrett is proud of her role in making Illinois government cleaner and more responsive to the people.
“My goal was a more open government,” Garrett said. “I made sure Metra and the tollway had an inspector general. I added transparency on how boards and commissions are appointed.”
Garrett was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 1998 and ran for the State Senate in 2002 after redistricting placed her in the same district with state Rep. Karen May (D-Highland Park).
“We drew this district especially for Susan (Garrett),” then State Senate minority leader Emil Jones (D-Chicago) said at an event for Garrett in 2002. “She is going to help us gain the majority.”
Garrett defeated incumbent state Sen. Kathy Parker (R-Northbrook) that year. Her victory was one that propelled the Democrats to majority status. She was reelected in 2004 and 2008. In 2008, she was chosen majority caucus whip.
Though no names have been mentioned as a possible replacement, state Sen. Terry Link (D-Waukegan), one of Garrett’s mentors when she entered politics, knows a solid candidate will have to emerge.
“We have some very large shoes to fill both as a legislator and because of her character. She set the bar very high,” Link said. “Lake County and Illinois are losing a fine legislator, who represented her district as fine as any person could.”
May said she plans to run for reelection to the General Assembly and will not be a candidate for Garrett’s seat. She believes her seniority can help her do more for the people she represents.
“Susan has been a fabulous public servant who has worked hard and totally involved herself in doing the right thing for people in her district,” May said. “She will be missed.”
May and state Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) are the two members of the state House of Representatives who comprise Garrett’s district. Nekritz also plans to seek reelection for her current job and will not run for the Senate.
“Illinois is losing a major leader,” Nekritz said. “Personally I’m very sad I’m losing my senator. We have worked very closely together.”
Garrett, meanwhile, plans to concentrate on serving her constituents through January, 2013. "I intend to work really hard and be really focused until the end of my term,” she said.