Not My First Rodeo – Mike Marron’s Surprising Ride to Springfield

Mike Marron, a fifth-generation family farmer, has devoted his life to public service through several avenues. The Fithian native charted a diverse and unique path to Springfield, where he has served with the Illinois House Republicans since 2018. Rep. Marron’s vast life experiences include a passion for rodeo, which he developed during his high school years and continues to this day.

This modern-day cowboy turned state legislator has travelled the world as an Illinois Soybean Association ambassador, visiting Brazil, China, Haiti, Colombia, Mexico and Ghana. Marron has served his local community in many ways, including as Chairman of the Vermilion County Board before coming to the Illinois House. From the farms of east-central Illinois to getting bucked by broncos and saddle bronc horses at the Illinois State Fairgrounds to duking it out with bureaucrats in Springfield, Marron has learned the values of hard work and determination.

“Rodeo is pretty good practice for politics,” quipped Rep. Marron. “You’ve gotta be tough to do both.”

Marron began serving the 104th District in September 2018 when he was appointed to complete Rep. Chad Hays’ term. Marron has since been elected three times, the last in November 2022 in a district that was redrawn by Democrats in an effort to flip it to their side of the aisle. 

After participating in the rodeo at the Illinois State Fairgrounds during his senior year in high school, Marron’s passion for the sport took off. He would go to as many as 20 per year and travelled as far as Arizona and Utah. The full-time farmer/cowboy had to cut back on his rodeo time over the years, however, as his public service and community service duties grew. 

Life on the farm in rural Fithian for Marron, wife Brandy and daughter Ainsley includes a love of horses. Many evenings involve family horse rides. Fittingly, Mike and Brandy first met as kids at the Vermilion County Fairgrounds.

Marron has worked as the Supervisor of Pilot Township, followed by his work as Vice Chair and Chairman of the Vermilion County Board. Marron has served as a representative of District 7 for the Illinois Soybean Association, including five trips to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. as a representative of the Soybean Association and Illinois Farm Bureau. Marron has also represented the ISA as an ambassador to Brazil and China, with participation in multiple trade missions to Haiti, Colombia, Mexico and Ghana.

In Springfield, Marron led the efforts to rename the Vermilion County Administration Building for former U.S. Speaker of the House and local legend Joe Cannon. Rep. Marron is also focused on obtaining more state support for dilapidated housing in Danville and Vermilion County. One of Marron’s initial promises to his constituents was to bring a casino to Danville, and that dream and economic engine came to reality. Marron works closely with Project Success of Vermilion County, which is an umbrella children and family services organization. This organization ensures students have a safe, welcoming, and positive environment both after school and during the summer. This spring, ISBE notified Project Success they would no longer be receiving promised grant funding due to overspending in other areas. Project Success has since announced it will be ending a third of the programs it offers.

“Project Success provides intervention services, mental health services, educational tutoring services, and activities for young people to engage in that help them thrive and keep them out of trouble,” Marron stated. “I cannot stand idly by while funding that could go to critical intervention and after school programs for our youth get decimated by administrative errors. I will continue to demand ISBE make this situation right and restore this badly needed funding.”

Though he does not have as much time to devote to rodeo anymore, Marron’s passion for the sport will never die. “There’s nothing like it in the world,” Marron stated. “Especially when you make a good ride. It can be a very frustrating sport, but when everything goes right and you win and really conquer a tough bucking horse, there’s no feeling like it in the world.”