A big crowd with big names helped celebrate state Rep. Robyn Gabel’s (D-18th) appointment as Illinois’ House Majority Leader at a public reception Saturday evening.

Around 150 people packed the Levy Senior Center’s gymnasium for the event, which was organized by Mayor Daniel Biss.

Around 150 people attend a reception for state Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-18th) at the Levy Senior Center. Credit: Alex Harrison

Gabel’s selection was announced on Jan. 12 along with the rest of the House Democrats’ leadership team.

Biss, who previously represented Evanston as a state representative and senator before becoming mayor, said Gabel’s new role places her in a position of “tremendous influence” on the goals and values of the state legislature.

“Robyn Gabel is in the room where it actually happens, working as the number two person in the House with Speaker Welch to really determine the flow of what issues get prioritized,” Biss said. “And she was put in that position in recognition of a decade of extraordinary work.”

Gabel and Biss were joined onstage by state Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz (D-17th), state Sen. Laura Fine (D-9th) and U.S. Rep Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). Numerous other elected officials peppered the crowd as well, including five Evanston councilmembers, Judge Lionel Jean-Baptiste and former Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin.

State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-18) in a 2022 campaign photo. Credit: Friends of Robyn Gabel

Gong-Gershowitz praised Gabel’s effectiveness at negotiating and winning votes for major legislation, and said this has earned her the nickname “Able Gabel” from friends and colleagues.

““Under the dome, people know her as a capable dealmaker, someone who can land the plane,” Gong-Gershowitz said. “She is the person who never fails to be there for the big things and the small things. It doesn’t matter how much is on her plate, she’s just always there, without fail, every time.”

Gabel was first elected in 2010, and represents most of Evanston along with Kenilworth, Winnetka and parts of Chicago and Wilmette following redistricting after the 2020 census. In a recent interview with the RoundTable, she highlighted electrifying the transportation sector, investing in workforce development and leading the House’s Medicaid budget working group as some of her biggest priorities for this term.

State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-18th, right) speaks at a reception in her honor at the Levy Senior Center. Seated to her left are U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill., from left), state Sen. Laura Fine (D-9th), state Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz (D-17th) and Mayor Daniel Biss. Credit: Alex Harrison

Gabel thanked her family and staff for their support during her remarks, and promised to bring values from Evanston and the rest of her district to her new leadership work.

“The opportunity to serve as Majority Leader now comes [with] the added responsibility of helping the members of a historic and diverse Democratic caucus achieve their goals and help guide impactful policy for our entire state,” Gabel said. “Those conversations continue to be guided by the values of our community, by the conversations I have with neighbors throughout our district and by the trust the people in this room have placed in me.”

Alex Harrison

Alex Harrison joins the RoundTable for the summer in between his undergraduate and graduate studies at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

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