State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), who catapulted from local politics to became a prominent voice in the Illinois Senate, will step down from his 48th District Senate seat, effective Jan. 17, and assume duties as a senior adviser to Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker two days later on Jan. 19.
Pritzker announced Manar’s appointment via a Monday morning press release, calling Manar “one of the most thoughtful and successful lawmakers of his generation.” Pritzker said Manar will bring a “wealth of experience and accomplishments on vital issues to Illinois.”
Manar said he and his family will continue to live in Bunker Hill, three blocks from his childhood home.
Manar, 45, was first elected to a two-year term as State Senator for the newly drawn 48th district in 2012, capturing 55 percent of the vote to defeat the late Mike McElroy, then Mayor of Decatur. He was re-elected to a full four-year term in 2014 over Macon County Board member Linda Little of Decatur. Most recently, Manar won re-election over challenger Seth McMilan in 2018.
Prior to entering state politics, Manar was elected as the youngest Mayor in the history of Bunker Hill in 1997. In 2003, he resigned his mayoral seat to become the youngest member of the Macoupin County Board in 2003. A year later, in 2004, he was elected Macoupin County Board chairman, a position he held until he successfully sought a seat in the Illinois Senate.
“In his career, Andy has done so much to improve the lives of working families,” Pritzker said. “He led the effort to reform the state’s antiquated education funding formula, made insulin cheaper for the millions who depend upon it, led efforts to reform election laws, and oversaw the appropriations committee during truly challenging times. Any one of those accomplishments would be hailed as a career capstone, and Andy has too many to name. I value his insights and look forward to him joining my administration as we overcome this pandemic and rebuild Illinois together.”
“Andy is a fiercely devoted public servant with an enviable track record in the legislature. His counsel and friendship have been invaluable over the last two years,” said Chief of Staff Anne Caprara. “We are elated that he will be serving alongside this team as we face the challenges of the coming years. He is someone who has always put the needs of the state and its people front and center, and I am thrilled to have him serve in the Governor’s office.”
Manar will work closely with the governor on his agenda and key priorities, according to Pritzker’s press release. Because of the breadth of Manar’s policy background, he will advise the governor on a range of issues, including downstate economic revitalization, appropriations, and COVID-19 recovery efforts.
“Illinois faces so many challenges, and I look forward to taking on these challenges from the executive branch,” Manar said. “Governor Pritzker has shown tremendous leadership in the most grave crisis this state has experienced in our lifetime, and I’m honored to share what I’ve learned to advance his agenda to rebuild our state and stand up for working families.”
“It’s hard to imagine the Illinois Senate without Andy Manar,” said Senate President Don Harmon. “He’s been a guiding force for so many lawmakers on so many issues, first as a chief of staff and then as a Senate colleague. He’s compiled a lifetime of achievements in what is still a very young career. Atop that list would be the education funding overhaul he led that sets our state on a course for fundamental education fairness, equity and excellence. Andy’s been my friend and an invaluable sounding board since my first days in the Senate, and I’m grateful that our friendship is even stronger today. The governor is very lucky to have him. I wish Andy all the very best in his new role.”
Manar announced his impending resignation from the Senate via social media shortly after the Governor’s press release became public:
“Today, my heart is full with gratitude to the people of my hometown of Bunker Hill, Macoupin County, and the 48th Legislative District for giving me — the son of small town, blue-collar parents – the opportunity to serve half my life in public office and to leave my mark on the state that I love.
“I will cherish the friendships I forged as we accomplished meaningful change together over the past eight years. I will always appreciate the truly unique diversity of the small towns and urban neighborhoods of the 48th District. While serving communities with people from all walks of life was often challenging, it brought me great joy to see first-hand what unites us and to then bring that perspective to Springfield to take on big issues. I’m proud to say we did that together and along the way improved life for everyone in this state.
“Trista and our children — now teens — have only known me as a husband and father who also carries the responsibility of serving as an elected official. They have never known a day otherwise. The time has come for someone new to take up the call in the Illinois Senate. Central Illinois is full of outstanding individuals ready to step forward to meet the challenge — be an agent of change in Downstate Illinois.
“After more than 22 years of public service, I realize this: I got more out of it than I gave it, and I gave it all I had each and every day. I remain forever grateful to my hometown of Bunker Hill, Macoupin County, and the people of the 48th District for giving me the opportunity time and again to serve.”
As a state senator, Manar led legislative initiatives resulting in Automatic Voter Registration, a statewide minimum wage for teachers, elimination of police ticket quotas, capping out-of-pocket cost of insulin at $100 per month, and the first-ever regulation of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). He was a vocal supporter of labor unions, voting rights, access to affordable healthcare, teachers, and the LGBTQ community.
As Chairman of Senate Appropriations II Committee, Manar delivered millions of dollars of infrastructure investment for parks, libraries, schools, and roads for the communities of the 48th District. Manar also directed state resources to new programs to help develop the area’s workforce including millions of dollars in funding for the Work Skills Program at Richland Community College in Decatur, the South Macoupin Consortium for Innovation and Career Pathways serving students in six high schools, funding to construct the new South Central Illinois Regional Workforce Training & Innovation Center in Litchfield, and the Golden Apple Teacher Accelerators program at Blackburn College in Carlinville. Manar also created the first ever statewide Critical Access Pharmacy program to help keep small, independent pharmacists operating in underserved and rural communities.
Manar already was recognized as a rising star in the Senate and Democratic politics when he pushed for school funding reform. For decades, Illinois was the worst ranked state for its contribution to school funding—driving local property taxes higher every year and leaving students in low-income districts at a serious disadvantage. Over the course of four years, Manar held hundreds of town halls and public meetings across the State, and overcame a veto by former Governor Bruce Rauner to establish the Evidence-Based Funding for Student Success Act. For the first time in a generation, Illinois now puts the most underfunded schools and children living in poverty at the front of the funding line making equity the foundation of public school funding which now serves as a model for the country.
Manar has repeatedly credited the late Senator Vince Demuzio as a mentor who cultivated his own interest in public service. Manar served as an unpaid intern with Demuzio when Manar was 18 years old.
Democratic Party Chairs from Christian, Macon, Macoupin, Madison, Montgomery and Sangamon counties (the counties comprising the 48th district) reportedly will meet within five days after Jan. 17 to appoint a replacement to fill Manar’s vacant seat. Each chair will cast a weighted vote based on the number of Democratic votes cast in precincts included in the 48th District within their respective counties during the last election. Those weighted votes are as follows: Macon, 26.7 percent; Macoupin, 21.4 percent; Sangamon, 19.6 percent; Christian, 14.1 percent; Montgomery, 13.9 percent; and Madison, 4.1 percent.
The person appointed to the Manar vacancy will serve the remainder of Manar’s term, which ends in 2022.