I love the House of Representatives. It brings diverse people from all over the country to try to address the pending issues of our time.
The two-party system has been part of our heritage for two centuries now, and regardless of public opinion it has worked.
What I have experienced is how friendship respect, and agreeing to disagree are critical components in our constitutional Republic. I have U.S. Jerry Costello to thank for this.
I guess what helps is that we are both from Southwestern Illinois -- Jerry from Belleville and me Collinsville. We share a common heritage of hard-working, blue-collar families who believe in God, individual liberty and freedom, and limited government.
Jerry was always on the last plane to D.C. and the first one home. I marveled at how I could do my best to catch a flight from D.C. to St. Louis, excited that I made it as they closed the door behind me only to see Jerry seated comfortably in the bulk head row -- not in first class but right behind it. I continue to shake my head in disbelief, wondering, "How did he do that?" His focus has always been home.
He is also known as a work horse and not a show horse. Many times people confront me as to why they don't see me on any of the national talk shows. They want me in the national debate and fray. This is when Jerry comes to mind.
Jerry does his legislative work. He speaks on the floor when he needs to but does not do it just to hear himself talk or to appeal to some unknown national constituency.
Although I am more involved in some of the debates, when I speak I want it to be something worthwhile and not just because I can. I shy away from the national media, spending my time with the media closest to home.
Jerry has also shown me that you can be true to your faith and your family. He has been a great role model to me and I thank him, his wife Georgia and their children. Although Jerry's kids are grown and he spends a lot of time with the grandchildren, mine are still in their formative years. If mine can turn out like his that would be fine with me.
We joined together in sponsoring a bipartisan congressional prayer breakfast with the CBMC. For 14 years we have met celebrating our unity in Christ, our love of our nation and our desire that we truly live in a great and bountiful country.
Thank you to Costello for his 22 years serving the nation as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, but, more importantly, thank you to him for mentoring me and being my friend.
John Shimkus, of Collinsville, represents the 19th Congressional District.