Rep. John Shimkus retiring after 24 years in Congress

Published: Dec. 22, 2020 at 10:47 AM EST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- After 24 years in Congress, Republican Representative John Shimkus is retiring. Despite the tumultuous times we are in, Shimkus says he remains optimistic about where the country is going.

“It really is a great honor. I leave with really almost 100% positive view of our country,” said Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.)

From serving in the U.S. Army in west Germany during the Cold War, to his years as a lawmaker on Capitol Hill, retiring Illinois Congressman John Shimkus reflects on his front-row seat to history.

“I’ve been through impeachments, plural, I’ve been through economic downturns, plural, I’ve been through wars,” said Shimkus.

Shimkus co-founded the bipartisan Baltic Caucus and says he’s most proud of the bills passed dealing with everyday problems: making sure all cell phones could dial 911 in an emergency, placing heart defibrillators in schools, and updating decades-old toxic substance regulations.

“Things are better than they look through the scope of the national media, and again, I’m optimistic about the future. I’m not pessimistic,” said Shimkus.

But Shimkus remains concerned about the future of coal country. He hopes southern Illinois can continue expanding development in renewable energy and manufacturing. As a conservative, he wishes the state would cut taxes and regulations to attract new business.

“The world is changing though, right? People are pushing the legislators to move away from fossil fuels. It’s hard on my district,” said Shimkus.

The moderate at times disagrees with politicians on the right and on the left. In a post-Trump GOP, he urges Republicans to stick to traditional conservative values while warming up to workers’ issues.

“The positive of the Trump era is that blue-collar folks who mostly identified with the democratic party in labor now vote with Republicans,” said Shimkus.

Shimkus plans to return to teaching, do some consulting work and remain involved in his church community with his wife.

Republican Mary Miller won the election in November to take over the seat. She will be sworn in on January 3rd on Capitol Hill.

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