House Speaker Welch: ‘Lead by your actions, not your words’ (Springfield, IL) – As House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-Hillside) made history as the first black man to serve in that role in the state, he has made sure to leave an impression during his first session as well.
As the successor to former House Speaker Mike Madigan’s 36-year reign, Welch said it has been important to let his actions speak for him.
“It’s extremely important to lead by your actions, not your words. I think the more you do that the more people believe in you and what you represent,” Welch wrote in a Facebook post.
Welch told WGEM that everything on his priority list for this year’s session got done, including improving access to health care, providing affordable housing, a bipartisan ethics report and ensuring voting rights.
While some Republicans would argue that Welch only allowed for Democratic priorities, Welch believes what the Legislature accomplished this session will benefit everyone.
“The work that we did is going to help the state of Illinois – not any one particular district, not any one particular race of people. It’s going to help all Illinoisans,” Welch said, as reported by WGEM. “Will we be better next session? I think we will because we’re going to learn from what happened here. We’re going to continue to build on that and try to be better.”
Welch said that while there were some heated debates along partisan lines, he believes that adversity is good as it brings diversity that exists throughout the state. He went on to say that debate is good and healthy for politics when done in a professional manner.
“When you govern from a big D Democracy standpoint, you can’t stifle debate. You have to let debate take place. I’ve always said as long as that debate is professional and courteous, it should go forth,” Welch said, as reported by WGEN. “We need civility and compassion in politics, but we also need debate. That’s extremely important. I think what you saw here was democracy on display.”
Since assumed Madigan’s office, he’s made some changes from the Madigan era. Most notably, Welch allows lawmakers and reporters to come in. This wasn’t allowed under Madigan.
Other changes Welch said that he made were installing a computer and a new phone to the office. Welch said he was surprised the office had no computer and only a rotary phone.
While it is unsure what next year’s session is going to look like, Welch said he tries to follow the rule of a wristband he wears that simply reads: “Be Better.”