U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren said he aims to use the experience gained during his freshman term in the House when he starts his second term as Illinois' representative for the redrawn 14th Congressional District.
The Republican congressman, first elected in 2010 to represent the 14th District, said his first term saw him successfully push legislation to toughen graduated driver’s license requirements and fight for the importance of basic scientific research. The Winfield resident said he is confident his second term will have similar results, while keeping politics aside.
What has changed is whom he represents. Redistricting because of the 2010 Census means the lines of the 14th District have changed. Hultgren will serve all of McHenry County except for Algonquin Township.
The 14th District also includes much of Kane and Kendall counties, eastern DeKalb County and two swaths of Lake County, and slivers of DuPage and Will counties. Before redistricting, the 14th District included parts of Bureau, DeKalb, DuPage, Henry, Kane, Kendall, Lee and Whiteside counties.
“I soaked up as much as I could,” Hultgren, 46, said about his first term. “It was both exciting and frustrating because I learned so much, but so many things become political. There are so many more opportunities to work together on both sides.”
Hultgren grew up in Wheaton, where his family owns and operates the Hultgren Funeral Home.
It was at the funeral home that Hultgren was introduced to politics.
“Even though my parents weren’t active in politics, they voted, and I was able to see how political decisions impacted business,” he said.
His love for the political realm grew stronger after his eighth-grade social studies teacher made the class participate in a mock Congress, where students had to pretend to be congressmen.
“I just loved the process and started following it,” he said, adding that he participated in student government in high school and college before taking an internship in Washington, D.C.
Hultgren married his college sweetheart, Christy Hultgren, a woman who has been by his side for more than 21 years.
“It’s a wonderful thing,” he said. “The toughest thing is being away from my wife and kids, but we have been able to do some incredible things as a family.”
A graduate of Bethel University and the Chicago-Kent College of Law, the businessman and lawyer has garnered several awards as part of the largest class of new Republicans elected in 2010.
As a member of the Agriculture; Space, Science and Technology; and Transportation and Infrastructure committees, Hultgren said he fought to ensure the safety of teen drivers and focused on basic scientific research at laboratories and universities.
He also helped push through legislation making it easier for veterans to earn their truck-driving licenses.
Hultgren was honored with the Champion of Science and George E. Brown Jr. Science-Engineering-Technology Leadership awards, among other recognitions.
“This has to be a nation committed to innovation, and that starts with basic scientific research,” Hultgren said. “I want to continue that work.”
The congressman has been very accessible during his first term, said Allen Skillicorn, an East Dundee trustee and former vice chairman of the Kane County Young Republicans.
"While visiting the [U.S.] Capitol in Washington, D.C., once, Randy stopped on his way to the House chambers to meet with me and listen," Skillicorn said. “Most congressmen would have just said 'hi' and moved on in that situation.”
Barb Wojnicki, Kane County Republican Central Committee chairwoman, agreed.
"Randy [Hultgren] is a true public servant," she said. "He is in constant contact with his constituents and brings their suggestions and concerns back to Washington."
During Hultgren's second term, he will be part of the Financial Services Committee. That role will include market research to improve the economy, as well as overseeing the bureaucrats with authoritative powers.
Hultgren hopes to leave a better nation for his children and grandchildren.
“Being a parent has put things in perspective and shown me why I am doing this,” he said. “The reason I ran was with hope and desire for my kids and grandkids to have a better opportunity than I had. This is a key time to fight for their opportunities.”