Illinois Speaker of the House Addresses City Club of Chicago

CHICAGO, Sept. 28, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- House Speaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch laid out a vision for continuing to move Illinois forward in a time of increasing political polarization Wednesday, addressing a sold out crowd of 300 people at the City Club of Chicago.

"Leadership is about serving the people, and I learned that great leaders have a few things in common," Welch said during his speech at the City Club of Chicago on Wednesday, Sept. 28. "Great leaders are civil, compassionate and willing to compromise. Great leaders build strong alliances. And, great leaders always remember their why."

Welch urged leaders to focus on common motivations – our 'why' – even when they disagree on policy details. Welch acknowledged Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, Chair of the Illinois Democratic Party Lisa Hernandez, Chicago Teachers Union President Stacy Davis Gates as examples of people who remember theirs.

"I want to help the poor, help the sick, help women, help children, help the elderly, help the most vulnerable among us," Welch said.

Welch, who is 20 months into his role as Illinois Speaker of the House, said he wakes up grateful for the opportunity to shape policy. Including "fiery" speeches about women's reproductive rights, marriage equality, banning ghost guns and corporate diversity. While his personal beliefs have not changed, he has moved towards finding ways to unify and not divide as Speaker of the House.

"It is important that I continue to listen and learn from perspectives that are different from my own because that's how we make truly transformative policy," Welch said.

Welch acknowledged that transformative policy requires a solid foundation. The Illinois House has prioritized rebuilding the state fiscally, with budgets that are fiscally and socially responsible. Pension Debt also has been paid down, and the backlog of unpaid bills has been eliminated. It has resulted in a savings of more than $1 billion. The Rainy Day Fund also has been rebuilt, something that has not been done in two decades. There also have been six credit upgrades.

"That fiscal stability has enabled us to put $1.8 billion back into working families' pockets, by cutting the grocery tax, freezing the gas tax, providing property tax relief and permanently expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit," Welch said.

Welch reiterated that Illinois' greatest strength is its diversity. And, that the unity and ability to work together is also what continues the path to move forward.

"From our prosperous rural communities to our vibrant, culturally rich cities, our diversity is truly what sets us apart," Welch said.

Welch also talked about the divide and rhetoric that seeks to divide. He encouraged the audience to take an active role in finding a solution to restore common courtesy and civil disagreements.

"We must stand up for our Democratic values and always operate from mutual respect," he said.

Welch said it is not good for Democracy that there are people who poison their followers' minds, by intentionally spreading lies and deceit. He said those attributes are not those of a great leader. Then, he talked about the January 6 Committee and how there is more evidence on the way about how people were radicalized by the former President of the United States.

"Our Democracy depends on us standing up and speaking out against all of that," he said. "Spreading lies and misinformation and fearmongering is not the way."

He added, "great leaders believe in civility, compassion. That's how we move forward."

House Speaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, City Club's Jaclene L. Robinson-Ivy, and lunch attendees. (PRNewsfoto/Democrats for the Illinois House)
House Speaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, City Club's Jaclene L. Robinson-Ivy, and lunch attendees. (PRNewsfoto/Democrats for the Illinois House)

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SOURCE Democrats for the Illinois House