Kankakee Daily Journal
September 24, 2011
By Phil Angelo and Nicole Leonhardt
Working to protect military bases from closure and increase college competition are just a few aspects of Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon's job. A career she did not always consider for herself.
"In my rebellious teenage years absolutely, that's the last thing I wanted to do is be involved in government like my dad or be a lawyer like my mom and now here I am a lawyer like my mom and involved in government like my dad," said Simon, the daughter of former Lt. Gov. Paul Simon.
After graduating from Georgetown University's law school in 1987, Simon worked as an attorney at Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance and later as assistant state's attorney in Jackson County before going on to teach at Southern Illinois University School of Law in Carbondale.
Now as lieutenant governor, Simon is using her educational background to understand the challenges faced by college students while touring all 48 community colleges in Illinois in an effort to get more enrollees to finish school and graduate with a degrees.
During Simon's trip to Kankakee to visit the 31st school on her list, Kankakee Community College, she took a few minutes to answer The Daily Journal's 10 Questions.
Why is getting a degree so pertinent in 2011?
"College education makes a difference in employability. It makes a difference in being able to do a specific job, it makes a difference in being able to respond to what's next."
Growing up, did you think you would become lieutenant governor?
"I know it crossed my brother's mind once when he was little. He felt that it was something that should be inherited."
How are you enjoying being lieutenant governor?
"Absolutely loving it. It is the coolest job around."
What makes it the coolest job around?
"All of you guys (to the reporters in the room) start your day the same way I do, presumably, reading newspapers. And instead of saying, 'Wow, I wish someone would think about doing it this way or that way;' I know the people I can call up and say, 'Hey, have you ever thought about this?' Every day I get to wake up and try and move the state in a positive direction."
Was there anything that surprised you about the job, and if so what?
"I think I knew a lot about what I was getting into even though I jumped in fairly quickly. The newest surprise has been the number of folks who have wanted to work with me. It's just been an amazing amount of people who were ready to dedicate themselves to public service."
I see you play in a band, Loose Gravel. What type of music?
"We play bluegrass. We call it the "Old Lady Band." We've been playing for 12 years. We take turns composing songs."
What's the best song you've written?
"One that gets requested a lot is "Eunice and Pablo." It's a tale about a domestic violence case in Jackson County. Pablo draws a revolver. Eunice gets shot."
"I'm the banjo. We used to practice every Sunday, but that's harder with my schedule now."
Can I get a CD?
"You have to know someone. There are some available in local music stores in Carbondale."
Did you play in high school?
"There were lots of piano lessons and I played the bassoon in the high school band. I still play the bassoon on a couple of our songs."