by Donna Parker
Illinois State Rep. Elaine Hodges Nekritz, who received a bachelor's degree in economics from Trinity in 1979, is in her fourth term and working more time than ever to combat the long shadow cast over this state's house by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
"It's my eighth year, but one in which we spent almost the full 12 months in session due to the public and media focus on him," says Elaine.
"My least favorite thing is the very public way in which my life now unfolds, but at its very best, every day is different and I learn new things as I face new issues," says this motivated legislator.
"I worked for another state rep before I ran successfully. At that point, state reps were anonymous, but that has certainly changed in the last year and a half. The media continues to be so focused on the leadership in Springfield that we all get painted with the same broad brush, whether we behave that way or not. That can be very frustrating as you try to work for the public good."
Even though Elaine is very busy with this more than full-time post, she is an avid bicycle enthusiast who used to race competitively and still spins her wheels, just for fun. Cycling, she says, is still her passion and outlet.
"I love going fast! It's like being a kid again," she laughs.
"I ride for exercise and do keep a bike at my apartment in Springfield. I always ride as fast as I possibly can!"
Elaine, a Kansas native, found her way to Trinity through another sport in which she competed-gymnastics. As a nationally ranked gymnast, she followed her high school Kansas gym coach to San Antonio, enrolled in Trinity and even competed for the University.
"Trinity didn't have a team but I worked out at a private club and competed under the school name," says Elaine.
She lived in Thomas residence hall, was a member of Gamma Chi, and also played intramural softball.
"I loved the school. I developed so many friendships and enjoyed the time extended students by the dedicated faculty. I really credit Professor Gloria Shatto, department of economics, for helping me overcome my basic shyness. She recognized my strengths and instilled a sense of confidence."
"I majored in economics strictly because of her. She inspired me and really piqued my interest in her subject matter."
Elaine is married to husband Barry, who has two grown children and they have four grandchildren, whom she sees fairly often, as two of them live nearby.
"I was at one of their soccer games yesterday," chuckles Elaine. "I get too involved in the game. That's the competitive streak in me coming out!"
Elaine plans to stay in the political arena, even though there are, as she says, "heavy ethical challenges."
"I hope to remain a member of the Illinois House. I am beginning to recognize that my peers view me as a leader although I'd never thought of myself that way. I am dedicated to what I do and still strongly believe in the system and my ability to do things for the people of my district."
You may contact Elaine at enekritz [at] repnekritz.org.