Dillard says RTA chair job a possibility
State Sen. Kirk Dillard, a Hinsdale Republican and runner up two weeks ago in the primary for governor, says he's been asked about being chairman of the Regional Transportation Authority, a possibility he did not dismiss.
In a statement, Dillard doesn't say specifically who asked him but outlines a strong interest in transit.
"I understand the tremendous importance of transit to our economy, families, employer community and region," Dillard said in a statement. "The regional transit system is in flux and under great stress."
"I have been asked by some to consider the RTA, but I don't know what my or the RTA's future holds," he added. "I want to discuss this further with Chicagoland's regional governmental leaders, (Chicago) Mayor (Rahm) Emanuel, transit experts, Gov. (Pat) Quinn and the legislative leaders."
Dillard on March 18 finished second in the GOP primary race for governor to Winnetka businessman Bruce Rauner. Because his Illinois Senate seat was also up for election and he couldn't run for both governor and Senate, Dillard's more than 20-year run at the Capitol is set to end with the term he's serving.
The RTA's current Chairman John S. Gates announced his exit in February. Gates will leave when his term expires in June after a tumultuous tenure marked by clashes with Metra, the CTA and Pace. The outspoken businessman criticized the agencies for redundancies and waste and used the agency's oversight powers to audit them on several occasions.
Gates' predecessor Jim Reilly was considered more of a diplomat who could balance the competing needs of the transit agencies and navigate the uncertain waters of Springfield.
Dillard commutes from Hinsdale to his law office in Chicago using Metra and has said he understands transit from a city and suburban perspective. Although ostensibly voted on by RTA directors, the position is traditionally decided behind closed doors by the elected officials who appoint the board. Those include the mayor of Chicago, the five collar county chairmen, the Cook County president and board members.
The RTA chairman is paid $25,000 a year.
Muddying the waters is the fact a state task force, empowered by Gov. Pat Quinn, recommended Monday the RTA be dissolved and the CTA, Metra and Pace be rolled into one superagency. The task force report has yet to be taken up by the legislature.