Republican state Rep. Mike Tryon announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election next year, ending a 12-year run representing McHenry County in the General Assembly.
Tryon, of Crystal Lake, cited his belief in term limits as the primary reason for stepping down, as well as spending more time with his family. He said it would be “disingenuous” of him as a Republican to support term limits – a cornerstone of new Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed agenda – yet serve beyond 12 years in Springfield.
“I’ve always supported a 12-year term limit, and I think there’s some commitment to that policy if you really are a supporter of it. I’ll be 61 at the end of this term, I own two businesses, I have my first grandchild on the way, and it’s time for me to focus on that. I’ll have no shortage of things to do,” Tryon said.
He said that health issues, namely a decade-long struggle with diabetes and heart surgery last month, had no bearing on his decision.
Tryon, a native of Terra Haute, Indiana, moved to McHenry County in 1977 shortly after receiving an environmental health science degree, to take a job with the Department of Health. He took a job in the private sector in 1980, founded his own water treatment testing lab in 1986, and entered politics with his 1988 election to the County Board. He was elected County Board chairman by his fellow board members in 1998, and held the title until voters elected him to the General Assembly in 2004.
Tryon since 2012 post-census redistricting has represented the 66th District, which includes parts of southeastern McHenry and northern Kane counties, including parts of Crystal Lake, Lakewood, Lake in the Hills, Huntley and Algonquin. Prior to that he represented the 64th District, which covered most of southeastern McHenry County.
Calling his time in elected office “the honor of a lifetime,” Tryon singled out the creation of the state online transparency portal and the veterans’ court system, and reforms combating corruption, waste and inefficiency within the Chicago area’s mass-transit agencies in the wake of back-to-back scandals, as among his greatest achievements.
He rose to leadership roles in politics as well. He served as chairman of the McHenry County Republican Party, and was named in 2013 to the House Republican Leadership Team under House GOP Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs. In a statement, Durkin called Tryon a “true champion of local government,” and said that his absence will be felt in Springfield.
Tryon also had a lighter side in politics as a guitar player in a Jimmy Buffet-style band made up of fellow state lawmakers. The band, Boat Drink Caucus, was invited by Gov. Bruce Rauner to play his inaugural concert earlier this year, and the band shared the stage with blues legend Buddy Guy and country star Toby Keith.
Local lawmakers and officials echoed Durkin’s sentiment.
Joe Gottemoller, who holds the County Board chairmanship that Tryon once had, called Tryon “a good friend to McHenry County” who will be missed.
Fellow Republican state Rep. Barbara Wheeler said that Tryon will leave behind a significant absence to fill.
“Mike’s been a great leader in the Republican caucus, and he’s represented his district well. I’m sorry to see him go,” Wheeler said.
But Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake, said that she is eager to see what new blood follows. McHenry County Republican Party Chairwoman Sandra Fay Salgado echoed similar sentiments.
“Mike has been a wonderful legislator. He’s been in politics for more than 20 years, and he’s going to leave some big shoes to fill. With that being said, there will be a big playing field in McHenry and Kane counties to fill those shoes. I hope we get some great candidates out there and have a great primary,” Salgado said.
When asked what his greatest achievement was, Tryon focused on his time as chairman of a County Board that had to struggle through very difficult financial times while dealing with a period of explosive residential growth.
“I try to look at policy beyond the politics, and I hope that’s what people remember me for,” Tryon said.
East Dundee Village Trustee Allen Skillicorn, who also serves as vice-chairman of the Kane County Republican Party, announced last month that he is mulling a run for the 66th District.