SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — After news of Senator Scott Bennett’s passing on Friday afternoon was released, an outpouring of memorials came out, expressing their condolences and sharing memories of him.
“He was just the definition of a good person,” Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz said. “Outside of, you know, his titles, and his professional credentials, he was just a good human being.”
He was admired among Democrats for his talent in negotiating legislation in the Senate.
“Illinois has lost a good friend and legislator today.” Kristina Zahorik, President of the Illinois Democrat County Chair’s Association said. “Prayers and well wishes from the Democratic County Chairs go out to Senator Bennett’s family and friends. Bennett was a loving husband and father.”
“Scott understood that being a leader requires the courage to speak up and the heart to listen,” Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton (D) said. “He collaborated with members from both sides of the aisle and always put what was best for Illinois first.”
Republican colleagues appreciated his calls for bipartisanship and his ability to co-operate across the aisle.
“I always enjoyed the fact that when it came to local issues, we would work together without partisanship,” Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) said. “I always looked forward to seeing him around town whether at the YMCA or the Buffalo Wild Wings, where we could occasionally run into each other with our kids. The world needs more Scott Bennetts, not less.”
His colleagues in the Illinois General Assembly remarked he was a great public servant to not just Champaign and Vermillion County, but the entire state.
“This is truly tragic news,” Rep. Dagmara Avelar (D-Bolingbrook) said. “Losing Senator Bennett is a loss to all of Illinois.”
“Scott was a tireless public servant for his district and the people of the state of Illinois,” Rep. Michael Zalewski (D-Riverside) said.
“I’m incredibly saddened to hear about the sudden passing of my colleague, State Senator Scott Bennett.” Sen. Laura Fine (D-Glenview) said. “He was a remarkable public servant, and his constituents could not have asked for a more dedicated senator.”
“Scott was always such a friendly and genuine guy, and you could tell he truly cared about his community and our state,” Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) said.
Some highlighted the ways he changed Illinois through his legislation.
“As the chair of the Higher Education Committee, and member of many other committees, he was a very passionate and active professional whose work will live on,” Sen. Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) said. “He was dedicated to the betterment of his constituency, impacting his community and Illinois at large.”
“Scott worked tirelessly on behalf of his constituents, evidenced most recently by his work on the subsequent trailer bills of the SAFE-T Act where he willingly sacrificed time with his family over the holiday weekend to improve the lives of people he would never meet,” Senator Elgie Sims (D-Chicago) said.
Others acknowledged his strong sense of humor.
“I am lucky to have had the opportunity to work with Scott, who was always committed to getting things done with humor and wit,” Congresswoman-elect Nikki Budzinski (D-IL) said.
Other government leaders called him a model public servant.
“My former seatmate and Central Illinoisan, Senator Bennett was a kind, compassionate and effective public servant,” Deputy Governor Andy Manar said. “His sense of humor and witty commentary was second to none.”
Deputy Governor Christian Mitchell said Scott Bennett was a “good and decent man and dedicated public servant.”
Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) also called Bennett “a kind and helpful friend.”
Bennett is survived by his wife Stacy and his two children. The Bennett family is asking for privacy.
Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz has asked if any constituents have campaign yard signs of Bennett to put them back out in his memory.
Governor Pritzker also ordered all flags to be flown at half-staff until sun-down Monday Dec. 19.
This is a developing story that will be updated.