Quinn's suburban roots on display at inauguration
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Gov. Pat Quinn's suburban roots were on display at Monday's inauguration ceremonies, as the Hinsdale native officially became governor in his own right.
Quinn -- an alum of St. Issac Jogues Elementary School in Hinsdale and Fenwick Catholic High School in Oak Park -- asked his former teacher, the Rev. Richard LaPata, to help conduct the inaugural interfaith service and the invocation at the ceremony itself.
LaPata, now the school's president emeritus, taught Quinn at Fenwick in the 1960s, shortly after he was ordained as a Dominican priest.
At 12:03 p.m., Quinn -- who began his political career out of an Oak Park apartment -- was sworn in for a full four-year term as the 41st governor of Illinois. He was appointed to the position two years ago on the heels of Rod Blagojevich's ouster from the office.
Quinn was inaugurated along with the state's five other statewide officers, including new Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, the daughter of the late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon of Illinois, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Secretary of State Jesse White, all Democrats. Two new Republicans, Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka and Treasurer Dan Rutherford, broke the Democrats' complete hold on statewide offices when they were elected in November.
Quinn starts his first full term with the state facing a financial crisis that's among the worst in the nation, but he barely mentioned it in his speech.
He told the thousands gathered for his inaugural in Springfield he wanted to be a "humble governor, who is proud of our people."
Quinn, 62, a tax attorney by trade, showed an early inclination for public service, organizing the boys in his Hinsdale neighborhood to transform an overgrown field into a neighborhood ballpark when he was 10 years old, recalls his mother, Eileen, 93. She attended Monday's inauguration, along with Quinn's two grown sons, Patrick and David; his brothers Tom and John; and 74 cousins, brother John Quinn said.
The family recalled another event they said shaped the governor: the primary election in which Irish Catholic Democrat John F. Kennedy won Illinois by 8,000 votes, leading the way to his historic presidency. To this day, Quinn's family keeps the 5-cent Kennedy buttons Quinn's father Patrick bought when he took his three boys to a Kennedy rally in Westmont.
On Nov. 2, 2010, precisely 50 years after Kennedy took Illinois, Quinn defeated Republican state Sen. Bill Brady by half a percentage point margin to be elected governor of Illinois.
On Monday, Illinois Chief Justice Anne Burke gave Quinn the oath of office at a ceremony at the Prairie Capitol Convention Center. Sons Patrick and David together held the Bible upon which he placed his hand.
Following the oath, Quinn tapped his heart twice with his right hand, next reaching out to hug his sons.
Quinn became emotional when speaking about his father, Patrick "P.J." Quinn, who died in 2008 at age 93.
"He had a servant's heart, and understood that everyone can be great, because everyone can serve," he said.
Quinn began his inaugural address by asking political opponents to "be one people to address the challenges ahead."
Even before the full slate of statewide officers was sworn in Monday, lawmakers were leaving the inaugural site and heading back to the Capitol, where they could decide today whether to give Quinn what he's repeatedly asked for during his first two years in office -- an income tax increase.
They have only until Wednesday to do so. Then, all legislation starts from scratch.
Rep. Sid Mathias, a Buffalo Grove Republican, said he agreed with Quinn's assertions in his speech that the state has dire problems.
But he doesn't support this week's last-minute rush to deal with them.
"I've never seen anything like this before," Mathias said.
"While an inauguration speech is about broad themes and making everyone feel good, this is a historic 48 hours," said state Sen. Kirk Dillard, a Hinsdale Republican who narrowly lost the GOP primary for governor last year. "We have a 75 percent income tax increase pending at the state Capitol and we have a fiscal crisis in state government that is unparalleled. The speech was nice. It was long. But I would have liked to have at least heard 60 seconds of specifics."
Quinn's inauguration was broadcast throughout the state, on TV and online.
At Fenwick Catholic High School, Quinn's alma mater, some students planned to watch the inauguration in between first semester final exams, which began on Monday.
St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Elementary Principal Rick Cronquist noted the school's eighth graders, who are currently studying the Illinois Constitution, are keenly aware that one of their graduates is occupying the state's highest office. The school recently gave Quinn, who visited the campus last May for a class reunion, a copy of his academic records, which are kept on file. Cronquist noted Quinn has pledged to return for a visit with the students.
$PHOTOCREDIT_ON$•Daily Herald staff writer Mike Riopell and the Associated Press contributed to this report.$PHOTOCREDIT_OFF$
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