The start of a new session of Congress last week meant saying goodbye to a longtime advocate for McHenry County.
Don Manzullo represented Illinois’ 16th Congressional District, which used to include much of McHenry County, for two decades. Even if we questioned some of the decisions he made during those 20 years, we can’t deny that Manzullo was an unabashed proponent for McHenry County, even though he lived in Egan.
He first took office in 1993, and his tenure was marked by his support in particular for small businesses and manufacturing. He often served on House committees that focused on those areas, and he founded the House’s manufacturing caucus. He promoted the county’s small businesses at every turn, and secured millions to benefit manufacturing and economic growth in the county.
We also have Manzullo (among others) to thank for some of the biggest road projects that have benefited McHenry County residents.
Work began this year on the Algonquin Western Bypass: The two-year, $33.3 million project aims to build a four-lane route west of Route 31 to relieve congestion at Routes 31 and 62 in downtown Algonquin. Manzullo started fighting for the bypass as soon as he took office, and helped secure $19 million in federal funding to go toward that project.
He helped secure $5.7 million for Route 47 improvements from Reed Road to Kreutzer Road in Huntley. The widening of Rakow Road recently wrapped up: Manzullo secured more than $7 million for that.
Among the hundreds of other projects he secured funding for include for water-monitoring wells, security cameras at McHenry County College, and crime-fighting equipment for local police departments.
His dedication went beyond dollar signs. He hosted health care forums in 2009 to get an idea of what constituents thought about health care reform. He attended local events. He knew the issues facing his district.
In short, he did what we expect our elected representatives to do: champion their districts, and its residents, as often as possible.
Even if he remained in Congress, Manzullo would have no longer represented McHenry County: Redistricting due to the 2010 Census shifted the 16th Congressional District completely out of the county.
We thank Manzullo for his dedicated service to McHenry County for 20 years. We wish him the best as he starts his new job as president and CEO of the Korea Economic Institute of America.
And we hope that the new representatives for McHenry County serve the county as well as Manzullo did. Sixth District Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Wheaton, and 14th District Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Winfield, are now our congressmen. We hope they follow Manzullo’s lead in keeping the best interests of McHenry County in the forefront as they make decisions.