SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — The late Champaign state senator Scott Bennett was honored on the floor of both chambers Tuesday afternoon, with speeches from several legislators.
Bennett died last month due to complications from a brain tumor.
In the chamber he called home for years, Illinois Senate President thanked Scott’s wife Dr. Stacy Bennett for filling in his role.
“Stacy, I know you did not ask for this role,” Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) said. “Everyone in this room wishes that you did not have to fill it. But I am confident that you will also always be your children’s hero. And you will always be part of the senate family.”
Member after member told stories about Bennett. They praised his ability to negotiate, and his unique approach to important issues in the capitol.
“He understood that if I could get you to laugh, then I could get you to listen,” Sen. Christopher Belt (D-East St. Louis) said. “And if I could get you to listen, then we can have a discourse. Doesn’t mean you always agree with me, but he disarmed you with the humor to get you to listen.”
Colleagues who turned into friends told stories about the time their relationships transcended political arguments.
“Scott and I used to do this point counterpoint on Election Night on Channel 3.” Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) said. “And this last year, we got in the stools we are supposed to sit on, there about this high. Well, I went first trying to jump up on and it shot out from under me, and I flew over and Scott was laughing so hard, until he tried to go down and the stool shot out from under him. So, we both stood there for the whole night doing our point counterpoint.”
Nearly every member acknowledged Bennett’s priorities. At the top of the list was his family.
“Stacy and the kids, I can’t thank you for sharing him with the rest of us,” Rose said.
Attending the Senate Celebration of Life alongside Stacy was his replacement Paul Faraci, and State Treasurer Mike Frerichs, who held Scott’s seat before he was elected to Treasurer.
Frerichs honored Bennett in his inauguration speech Monday, by referencing their friendship.
“The Senate lost a hilarious and hardworking colleague,” Frerichs said. “His young family lost a devoted and loving husband. And I lost a true friend.”
He also honored his collaboration with his office on the ABLE Act, a law that allows people with disabilities to save money without losing access to government benefits.
“Thanks to legislation passed by Senator Scott Bennett, we set up a savings program to help people with disabilities have a brighter future and is now helping tens of thousands of people have their parents put them on a pathway to a more successful future,” the treasurer said.
The Illinois House of Representatives held a moment of silence for Bennett Tuesday afternoon.
Representative Mike Marron (R-Fithian), one of the representatives of his district, thanked Scott for making him a better legislator.
“When we get into these lively, passionate debates, it’s easy to lose sight of the humanity of the political process to forget that we’re dealing with people that even though they disagree with us, they’re human beings and they’re here for the right reasons,” Marron said. “Scott never let me lose sight of that. He was that constant reminder to me of the humanity of the political process.”