Rep. Brian Stewart Weekly Guest Column

***Guest Column***

In 1998, James Hunter wrote a book called The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership. With over 3 million copies in print, The Servant is an excellent book on leadership. Hunter writes, Leadership is not about personality, possessions, or charisma, but all about who you are as a person. I used to believe that leadership was about style but now I know that leadership is about substance, namely character Thoughts become actions, actions become habits, habits become our character, and our character becomes our destiny.

Speaking of character, the City of Freeport Fire Department has had 3 notable retirements recently, Battalion Chief Brian Bruce, Fire Inspector, Robert Bush and next week Deputy Chief Robin Gorsline. In addition Public Works Director Tom Dole also has retired. They have all served Freeport with distinction for over 30 years, and Tom Dole over 35 years. I had the privilege of joining Inspector Bush at Calvary Lighthouse Churchs special Honoring Public Officials Service last November in Rochelle, Illinois.

It takes character to be a first responder. It takes character to do it every day for over 30 years. Thank you Gentlemen for showing us what character looks like.

This week also honors two professions, the often unsung heroes of our classrooms and our clinics and hospitals. It is National Teacher Appreciation Week. The first National Teacher Day was declared by Congress in 1953. The National Educators Association began to push to renew National Teacher Day in 1980, and the NEA began observing National Teacher Day in March each year until 1985.

The National Parent-Teacher Association began designating the first full week in May to honor teachers as National Teacher Appreciation Week in 1984. In 1985, the NEA Representative Assembly voted to change the date of National Teacher Day from March to coincide with National Teacher Appreciation Week.

I am sure we can all think of at least one or two teachers who made a difference in our lives. We know that a better education means a better future for our children. It takes character to show up every day to make a difference in our childrens lives. Take a moment and thank a teacher for their hard work and dedication.

It is also National Nurses Week. The first week honoring nurses was called National Nurse Week, and it was held in 1954 from October 11th through October 16th. The dates were chosen to coincide with the 100th anniversary of famous American nurse Florence Nightingales mission to the Crimea. It wasnt until 1974 that the next National Nurse Week was designated by President Richard Nixon.

In the 1980s nursing organizations, including the American Nursing Association, began to lobby for a National Recognition Day for Nurses and President Ronald Reagan proclaimed National Recognition Day for Nurses to be May 6th in 1982. In 1990, the ANA Board of Directors expanded the observance to National Nurses Week from May 6th to May 12th, Florence Nightingales birthday.

In every clinic and hospital across our nation, nurses are working to make sure their patients receive quality health care. The next time you see a nurse, thank them for the character they demonstrate doing their job each day.

Leadership takes character. It requires knowing what the job is, and doing that job to the best of our ability. If the job is cutting lumber, and you are sharpening pencils, it does not matter if youre the best pencil sharpener in the business. Youre not doing your job.

Take the job of state representative. My job is to propose and vote on prospective legislation to grow our economy. I have written about several specific bills I have filed in the past several months. One of those bills, House Bill 5233, will make it easier for companies to locate in Illinois.

Currently, Illinois law requires a company seeking to take advantage of state business incentives, to obtain an incentive package from a neighboring state. This hurts our chances of attracting new businesses to Illinois and beating any incentives offered by neighboring states. HB5233 removes the requirement.

Another of those bills is House Bill 4787 which will help rehabilitate structures in downtown Freeport and other cities.

What we need are more legislators proposing common sense solutions like HB5233 and HB 4787 in Springfield. What we do not need are legislators to have emperor like authority to dictate how and where a business should operate, or what any one person should or shouldnt do.

It is easy to criticize and throw peanut shells from the cheap seats, or around the morning coffee table. There are plenty of critics. We need more people to participate in a healthy community discussion about what all of our elected officials and our citizens can do to fulfill their duty and help our community move forward – together. We need more character.

Happy Mothers Day and hope everyone remembers their Mother on her special day.

As always, if you have any additional thoughts or ideas, you can reach me or Sally at 815-232-0774, or visit my website at and use the form to send me an e-mail.

Brian Stewart

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