SEMA News—June 2012
FROM THE HILL
By Dan Sadowski
Racing, Performance and Prairie State Politics
U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren Joins 130 SEMA Members at Illinois Town Hall
Congressman Randy Hultgren (center) joined SEMA Board of Directors member and Auto Meter Products Vice President of Sales and Marketing Jeep Worthan (left) and SEMA Director of Congressional Affairs Dan Sadowski (right) at a SEMA Town Hall meeting in St. Charles, Illinois. Auto Meter Products is headquartered in Rep. Hultgren’s district.
With a backdrop of state-of-the-art auto equipment, the 5th Annual Racing and Performance Expo in St. Charles, Illinois, was the perfect venue for a SEMA Town Hall meeting and the 130 SEMA members who attended. The evening’s special guest, Congressman Randy Hultgren (R-IL), provided insight on the current political and legislative landscape in Washington and heard from SEMA members about issues affecting business owners.
The Town Hall program is an ongoing SEMA initiative to engage with the membership at central locations across the country. Members discuss a variety of topics, ranging from increasing youth participation in the hobby to regulatory threats and money-saving tips. Originally sponsored by SEMA’s membership department, the program has now been joined by the government affairs department to include local lawmakers as participants. SEMA Board of Directors member Jim Bingham, president of Winner’s Circle Speed and Custom Shop, hosted the event. The company has 40 years of industry experience specializing in racing and performance parts for drag racing, circle-track racing, hot rodding and boating.
Rep. Hultgren arrived at the event with his young son at his side, greeting attendees at each table and learning more about the member companies in his own backyard. He even had the opportunity to chat with industry icon Vic Edelbrock before taking the stage. Rep. Hultgren spoke about issues of importance to the industry, including taxation, fuel prices and the role of government in assisting small-business growth.
“Small businesses are fundamental to the growth of the American economy,” he said. “It is critical during this important time of recovery to ensure that business owners are provided the tools to hire new workers and expand their businesses. I encourage SEMA members throughout the country to attend future Town Hall meetings to meet with fellow industry leaders and share ideas to grow your businesses and confront today’s challenges.”
Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) shared his insights on legislative issues of importance to the automotive specialty-equipment industry with the 130 SEMA members gathered at the Town Hall meeting.
At the conclusion of his Town Hall remarks, Rep. Hultgren took questions from the audience and stressed the need for SEMA business owners to communicate their concerns to their elected officials. SEMA Board of Directors Chairman Scooter Brothers thanked the Illinois lawmaker for participating and reminded all SEMA members in attendance of the importance of political engagement.
“It is important that we, as an association, support those elected officials who support our industry in Washington,” said Brothers. “SEMA maintains an office in Washington to protect our industry on Capitol Hill. To take an active role in the process, SEMA members should join the SEMA Political Action Committee, SEMA PAC, designed to provide support for those pro-business lawmakers who support our member companies. It is crucial that SEMA members add their voices to protect our industry and our future by joining SEMA PAC.”
Before attending the Town Hall, Rep. Hultgren was already well acquainted with the SEMA members in his district, having twice visited Auto Meter Products, headquartered in Sycamore, most recently in April 2011 as part of the Congressional District Site Visit program. As a result of this meeting, SEMA Board of Directors member Jeep Worthan and other Auto Meter staff members were selected to serve on a local economic advisory panel for the congressman.
Rep. Hultgren is serving his first term representing Illinois’ 14th Congressional District. He graduated from Bethel College in 1977 and later attended Chicago-Kent School of Law. Prior to serving in Congress, Hultgren served on the DuPage County Board and County Forest Preserve Board from 1995 to 1999 and went to the Illinois State Senate in 2007. Shortly after his election to Congress, Rep. Hultgren joined the SEMA-supported, bipartisan Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus, which serves to raise the industry’s profile on Capitol Hill by recognizing the contributions that the automotive performance and motorsports industry have made to the U.S. economy. Rep. Hultgren and his staff understand the concerns of SEMA-member companies and have proven their support of SEMA priorities.
To enroll in SEMA PAC or to learn more about the SEMA government affairs office, visit www.SEMApac.com or contact Director of Congressional Affairs Dan Sadowski at dans@SEMA.org or 202-783-6007, ext. 19.