David Leitch, a very fine legislator

For almost 27 years, state Rep. David Leitch has quietly and competently gone about his business representing the Peoria area’s interests in the Legislature, immersing himself as few others did in the nitty-gritty of sometimes arcane policy issues, providing superior constituent service, bringing home state dollars for some very worthy projects.

He has been that increasingly rare, for the most part non-ideological Republican who believes as conservatives do that “that government is best which governs least,” but that government also can do good, can help make people’s lives better. Consider the longest-serving Republican in the Illinois House, with a short stint in the state Senate before that, “old school,” one of the individual exceptions in a generally dysfunctional Legislature.

With Leitch, 67, announcing his retirement at the end of his term in January, 2017, bipartisan tributes have poured in, from GOP House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, who like others lauded his “wealth of institutional knowledge” — the written and unwritten rules learned at the knee of late Journal Star political reporter Bill O’Connell, who would hitch rides with him to Springfield back in the day — to his local House colleague, Democrat Jehan Gordon-Booth, who noted that she gets “choked up” at the thought of “such a smart warrior for the people” leaving public service. Read the entire Peoria Journal Star editorial.