State Central Committeeman Al Riley Retirement Speech

Dear Friends:

It has indeed been a pleasure to serve you as the State Central Committeeman for the Second Congressional District for the past nine years.  I decided to retire from that position and essentially from elected office after I retired as State Representative in 2019.  On election day, June 28th, I was pleased when my friend and former colleague Will Davis was elected to take my place on the State Central Committee along with Congresswoman Robin Kelly.  Democrats in the 2nd CD, and indeed all throughout the state can have confidence that Rep. Davis will continue to promulgate the great ideas and ideals of the Democratic Party. He will find and support competent, trustworthy people to run for political office, and help them raise the resources that are necessary to mount successful campaigns.  It is important that Congresswoman Kelly; the Committeewoman from the 2nd CD, have a person in the Committeeman’s seat who is competent, trustworthy, and shares many of the same ideas about strengthening the party as a whole. Equally important is making sure that the tenets and policies of the Democratic Party of Illinois are influential throughout the politics of the 2nd CD.

In the summer of 2013, an unfortunate void was left in the Committeeman position for the 2nd CD.  However, the system of succession worked. County Chairs, Ward and Township Committeepersons gathered together to both vet and select the best candidate to fill the vacancy. I was honored to be selected, and set about the business of getting to know the leadership of Democratic organizations throughout the district. I also established myself as a more active liaison between the Democratic Party of Illinois and the people of the district; whether they were in party leadership positions or interested citizens.  People over the years have said that in many ways, I’ve defined or redefined the roles and responsibilities of a member of the State Central Committee; both within and even outside of the 2nd CD.  While I suppose that’s flattering, and I did take it as a compliment, I just felt that I did what had to be done: 

*We established an active website. 

*We did frequent email blasts of national and state political information, along with activities within the district.  

*We also acted as a means of communication between the established political organizations. 

*About one-tenth of all of my fundraising went to supporting worthy candidates, incumbents and legislative colleagues

*We were part of the political renaissance in Will County; helping to strengthen the voices previously unheard in certain parts of the County and helping to elect effective Democratic countywide constitutional officers and board members.  

*We assisted in strengthening the Kankakee County Democratic organization by helping to recruit and elect numerous precinct committee people and members of the County Board, and more.

There are great elected officials, organizations and volunteers throughout the entire Second Congressional District.  At the same time, we also know that there are those who view the political process as one of self-aggrandizement and self-reward.  There will always be people with selfish motives who couldn’t care less about helping good, knowledgeable candidates get elected.  Their whole goal is to try to undermine governmental entities and promote unethical candidates; many of which don’t have a clue about the office that they’re being asked to run for.  This is nothing new in the political process, but extremely dangerous in the current political climate. It is important that we beat back this kind of politics; that of untraceable money, candidates of spotty character, slander and innuendo and outside influences attempting to take away our voice. These people have absolutely no concern for the health and future of our communities and constituents.

That is why I have the utmost trust and faith in Robin Kelly and Will Davis. They have the ability to continue to carry the banner of the Democratic Party of Illinois and build the political strength of our historic and important district into the future.  I ask you to support them as well.  After all, it is not like they are unknown quantities.  Robin is doing a stellar job in Washington under difficult conditions.  Every bill she passes, every interview she does, she represents all of us.  As Will Davis’s representative district was contiguous to mine, many people in the area know Will’s work very well.  A champion of the Southland that he loves so much, Will ascended to a position of leadership within the House.  We collaborated on a lot of great pieces of legislation together.  But people all over the state that have children in elementary and secondary school, owe Will a debt of gratitude for one of the greatest education funding reform bills ever passed in the state; the so-called “Evidence-Based Model”. This bill did so much to begin to equalize school funding throughout the state; without regard to the affluence of the school district.  That’s the kind of person that you want and need in a position such as this.

As for me, this is the end of a long tenure as an elected official; spanning almost 40 years.  Even with all of the work and sacrifice, I wouldn’t trade those years for anything else in the world.  That’s why that work and sacrifice (and some frustrations) never deterred me.  Never bothered me at all.  My abilities, education and experience carried me through times of tough decisions.  My constituents; who rewarded me 17 times with their confidence, acted as “force multipliers” for all of the positions that I took, all of the things that I did, and all of the issues that I endeavored to solve.  My volunteers and my political organizations were the backbone behind all of our accomplishments.  So even though I no longer will hold public office, I will still be there as a constituent of, and a volunteer for Will and Robin. Indeed, I will do this for many others that were part of the effort of maintaining good ethical government that I believed in.  In addition, I plan on establishing a training program for citizens and for those who are considering running for office.  Some of the basic things that participants will learn include: the intersection of government and the political process, the roles and responsibilities of local, county, state, and Federal government, a primer on how campaigns are run, how to understand and conduct political polls along with the statistical analysis behind them, and much more.  I found, over the years, that unfortunately many adults really do not understand the operations of government like they should.  Ignorance is not bliss.  Saying “I really don’t get involved in politics” is not a red badge of courage.  An informed and educated electorate is the antidote for beating back lies, sensationalism, and disbelief in government.  All of those things we have seen in recent years is the recipe for dictatorial forms of government.  We can’t and we won’t let that happen

Again, it’s been an honor representing you across four different political offices for all of these years.  Whereas elected office is finite, public involvement is lifelong.  If you would like to continue to be involved with the training program, special events, and just general communications, please send an email to The sites will all stay up for archival purposes even though they will not continue to be updated.  Thank you so much for your support; and the fight for a more perfect union continues.