Republican State Rep. Kay Hatcher was in her Yorkville district office this week signing notes of congratulations to constituents and others who recently have been featured in newspaper stories.
“It is a good way to remind people they are important,” said Hatcher, as she gets ready to leave the state legislature after serving the 50th District since 2009.
Her last day is Jan. 14.
Both Hatcher and State Rep. Tim Schmitz, R-Batavia, who also is leaving the state legislature in January, said they have tried during their legislative careers to always put the interests of the people first. Schmitz, who represents the 65th District, first was elected to the House in 1999.
Hatcher and Schmitz represent a significant chunk of Kane County. The 50th District covers much of southwest Kane County and northern Kendall County, including Sugar Grove, Elburn, Campton Hills and Yorkville, as well as portions of St. Charles, Batavia, North Aurora, Aurora, Montgomery and Oswego.
The 65th District represents parts of Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles, Campton Hills, Plato Center, South Elgin, Hampshire and Huntley.
“This is a microcosm of America here,” Hatcher said. “I have both gravel roads and superhighways in my district.”
In looking back at what he has done in his legislative career, Schmitz noted most of his accomplishments have involved “sticks and bricks.” That included paving the way for the transfer of hundreds of acres of land about 12 years ago from the Illinois Department of Corrections to the St. Charles Park District and other agencies.
“It took several years to do,” Schmitz said. “It was the last bill of the night of my very first session. That’s where [the St. Charles Park District] now have the water park, and all the soccer fields. The park district’s long-term planning was to acquire all that land.”
Schmitz said a lot of his bills were constituent driven, such as a bill requiring mandatory car booster seats for kids.
The bill failed the first time.
“We had a lot of education to do,” he said. “We had a lot of people opposed to it.”
Schmitz ran for the state legislature on the issue that people should have the right to carry concealed weapons. On Jan. 1, people in Illinois for the first time were allowed to apply for the ability to carry guns in a concealed fashion.
Illinois was the last state to allow concealed carry.
“There were only a handful of states at the time that had it,” Schmitz said. “I didn’t understand the objections to it.”
Hatcher’s first vote in the House was to impeach then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is serving an 18-year jail sentence for 18 counts of political corruption, including trying to sell Barack Obama’s old Senate seat.
“I should have known what the next six years would be like,” Hatcher said with a laugh.
In crafting legislation, Hatcher said she has turned to the needs of her constituents. For example, after visiting with a local farmer, she introduced a bill protecting farmers’ pastures from deer herds.
Another bill she co-sponsored was designed to protect funerals of military personnel from hate groups, such as the Westboro Baptist Church. Hatcher said the idea for the bill came from a Northern Illinois University class.
Earlier this year, she advanced legislation to protect against fraud in Illinois’ food, medical and other public assistance programs, and to protect those who need assistance from being victimized by scam artists.
“My efforts rise from constituent needs and personal experience, not a search for a high-profile issue,” Hatcher said.
Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke said the fact that Schmitz and Hatcher had government experience before being elected to the state legislature served them well. Schmitz served four years on the Batavia City Council before being elected to the state legislature in 1999, and Hatcher’s past experience includes being a member of the Kendall County Board.
“They both understood the local picture and the local perspective,” Schielke said. “They were always there to work for the best interests of their constituents.”
He also appreciated the fact they have been only a phone call away.
“They were always accessible,” Schielke said. “I guess there are some state representatives that are somewhat hard to get ahold of. But they’ve always been very accessible and listen to what you had to say.”