Elected officials commend retiring State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie for her years of legislative service

State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25)

By JOSEPH PHILLIPS
Staff Writer

After nearly 40 years in the legislature, State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25) has announced that she will conclude her legislative career at the end of the 100th General Assembly in January 2019.

Currie said she will not run for office next term after serving Chicago communities of the Woodlawn, South Shore, Hyde Park, Kenwood, and South Chicago area for 38 years.

“I’m not planning to re-up for re-election in 2018 but I do plan to finish out my current term,” Currie told the Hyde Park Herald. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the legislature and will continue to pursue progressive policies in education, social welfare and criminal justice in other venues.”

Although she released a formal announcement Friday, Sept. 15, word of her retirement was publicized Thursday, Sept. 14. Shortly after the announcements, Mayor Rahm Emanuel released a statment.

“Barbara Flynn Currie is one of a kind,” Emanuel said in a written statement. “Someone whose intelligence and command of a wide range of public policy issues is matched only by her decency. On behalf of a grateful city, I wish Barbara nothing but the best in her well-earned retirement.”

Emanuel said throughout Currie’s career, she has been a passionate advocate for the people of Chicago and the state of Illinois. He commended her for shattering glass ceilings after blazing a trail for countless others.

“From fighting to raise the minimum wage, to expanding access to early childhood education, to advocating for common sense gun laws, Leader Currie has been a voice for the voiceless and a steady champion for the most vulnerable among us,” Emanuel said.

Currie, a Hyde Park resident, was elected in 1979 and is the state’s longest-serving woman in the Illinois General Assembly. She is also the first woman to serve as majority leader in the Illinois House of Representatives and a top lieutenant to House Speaker Mike Madigan.

“I was surprised to see her go,” said Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th). “She has served her constituents very well for decades. I’m sorry to see her go. She’s been an excellent public servant.”

Currie attended the University of Chicago. She graduated from the college with honors before earning a master’s degree in Political Science. She is a member of the Chicago League of Women Voters, the Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership, Women United for South Shore, and the Board of the ACLU of Illinois. She is active in many civic, community, and environmental organizations.

“Barbara Flynn Currie will be leaving the legislature in the same manner she has graced it for so long,” said State Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-26). “With her head held high, and on her own terms.”

Mitchell said that Currie is irreplaceable. He said that he will truly miss her razor-sharp wit, breathtaking depth of knowledge and personal warmth, which are a few of the qualities that have made her the “liberal lion of Illinois politics.”

He said that Currie has been an invaluable and generous mentor to him and countless other men and women on both sides of the aisle who have served with her in the legislature.  

“I am even more honored to be able to call her the truest of friends. She will be sorely missed,” Mitchell said.

Currie told the Herald that although she is retiring, she has no immediate plans to leave her Hyde Park home, where her and her late husband David P. Currie, a law professor at the University of Chicago, raised two wonderful children and four grandchildren.

Ald. Sophia King (4th) and Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13) did not return phone calls for comment by Herald press time.

j.phillips@hpherald.com