Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says he will retire in January

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Democratic state Senate President John Cullerton announced Thursday that he’s stepping down from the Illinois Legislature.

His retirement will be effective sometime in January and he’s fulfilling a promise to his wife, Pam, Cullerton said in a statement.

“So now, after 41 years in the legislature and 40 years of marriage, I’m finally going to live up to my promise to retire,” he said.

Cullerton was elected state senate president in 2009 and has been in the Illinois Senate since 1991. His 6th district covers Chicago’s North and Northwest sides.

He was elected in 1978 to the Illinois State House. He unsuccessfully ran against then-U.S. Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, a Democrat, in 1994.

Cullerton cites two capital bills, marriage equality, abolishment of Illinois’ death penalty, and reforms to school funding, pensions and immigration as accomplishments by the Senate over the past 11 years.

“During a time when our efforts were challenged on many fronts, we found ways to reach across the aisle, and through compromise we worked together to get our job done,” he said. “One of the highlights of my career was working with Republican Leader Christine Radogno to try to bring to an end the state budget impasse.”

Members of the Senate Democratic Caucus were told Thursday afternoon about Cullerton’s plans, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“During my tenure as state representative and senator, my focus was on the local district,” he said in his statement. “But once I became senate president, my primary focus was redirected to the Senate Democratic Caucus. Our meetings were fun, inspiring, challenging, heart- wrenching, primal and revealing. Finding ways to keep my team united have been some of my proudest and most interesting moments.”