Hunter: Rep. Golar, Our Singing Legislator, Will Be Missed
Early Monday morning, State Representative Esther Golar (D-Chicago, 6) passed away. Sen. Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago, 3), was amongst those who joined close friends with keeping an around-the-clock vigil for the past several weeks in her hospital room.
State Rep. was a Chicago Democrat known by colleagues as a gentle giant who quietly fought for the disadvantaged but often made her voice heard by singing her position on the House floor.
“Representative Esther Golar was not only my colleague, but my dear friend. She was a genuine no nonsense person who looked out for the best interests of her district, Chicago and our state,” said Sen. Mattie Hunter.
Rep. Golar may have made her exit from this life but not before she finished important business. She made her last appearance at the Capitol earlier this month to vote on the highly publicized vote (one vote Ken Dunkin missed) on high profile measures to stop service cuts for the elderly and disabled, prevent reductions in child care for the poor and support a union-backed bill to limit their ability to strike. The child care bill and the union measure failed. Many Democratic lawmakers starting with Speaker of the House Mike Madigan blamed one colleague who failed to show up when in fact 71 votes were needed and the bill was three votes shy of 71.
According to colleagues, Golar fulfilled her last legislative obligation against doctor’s orders, and at one point had to go to a Springfield hospital to receive treatment for cancer.
“For her, it was about doing her duty and standing up for working families in her district,” Harris said. “Her doctors told her not to go, and she said that in her heart it was something she felt she had to do.”
Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D- Peoria, said Golar represented the best of public service at a time when Illinois politics is known more for controversy and scandal than statesmanship. Gordon-Booth said she often spent more time in Golar’s office than her own, seeking professional and personal advice from a colleague who quickly turned into a friend.
In May, Golar broke out in song on the House floor in opposition to a plan backed by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to limit collective bargaining rights, singing a rendition of the civil rights anthem “We Shall Not Be Moved.”
Rauner issued a statement Monday hailing Golar as a “pillar of strength in her community,” saying she represented her district “with tenacity and grace.”
Golar represented portions of the city’s Southwest Side. She was first appointed to the House in 2005 to fill the seat vacated by Patricia Bailey, who was convicted of felony perjury and forgery. Golar was a community organizer in Englewood who worked with the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy program.
“For almost 10 years Rep. Golar has represented her constituents honorably and has been a selfless advocate for their interests,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said in a statement. “She understood that government is a vehicle of service, and operates at its best when it is collaborative. She was a believer in the strength of neighborhoods and communities, and was an ally on issues I hold dear: schools, public safety and health care. My sympathies go out to her family and close friends.”
Reflecting about her friend, Sen. Hunter recalled, “We sponsored many pieces of legislation together, such as funding for after school programs, summer jobs for youth, education funding and criminal justice reform.
With true commitment, loyalty and dedication, Esther loved to express her thoughts of feeling in song. I always referred to her as the ‘singing legislator,’ which I think will always be how we remember her.”
“We all agree with Sen Hunter’s closing sentiment, “My thoughts and prayers are with her family at this time. She will be missed not only in Springfield, but across her district, as well.”
Services will be announced.