CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today congratulated Tom Carper, the former mayor of Macomb and Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) West Central region manager, on his nomination by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) to serve on the national Board of Directors for Amtrak. The Governor also urged quick action on the nomination by the U.S. Senate and said that the appointment highlights the success of the state’s partnership with Amtrak, which has seen phenomenal growth in riders here since Illinois doubled state support for the rail service last year.
“As a former mayor and regional manager at DCEO, Tom understands how important passenger rail is to our economy and communities across the state,” said Governor Blagojevich. “I congratulate Tom and am confident he will do an outstanding job serving Illinois and the entire Midwest region of the country on the board of Amtrak.”
Carper’s nomination was put forward by Sen. Durbin and he was formally nominated by President Bush. The nomination must be confirmed by the Senate Commerce Committee and the full Senate. Despite taking on the new duties, Carper will continue in his current position with DCEO.
The Governor said that Carper led the fight to preserve passenger rail service in the region and state when he served as mayor of Macomb from 1991 to 2003. In 1991 Carper was appointed by the Amtrak Board of Directors to the Amtrak Mayors ’ Advisory Council and served as its Chair from 2000 to 2001.
Illinois expanded its partnership with Amtrak in October of 2007, when it doubled state funding from the Illinois Department of Transportation for the rail line to more than $24 million to pay for increased service on three routes. In the year since the added service began, ridership on the state supported trains surged by 108 percent on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor. Ridership between Chicago and Carbondale is up by 67.4 percent for the state-supported trains and by 41.4 percent on the state-supported trains on the Chicago-Galesburg-Quincy route. In all, nearly 3.6 million passengers used Amtrak stations in Illinois in the last federal fiscal year.
During his tenure as mayor of Macomb, Carper attained leadership roles in various statewide organizations, including: Board of Directors of the Illinois Municipal League (1993 to 2003), Chair of the IML Non Home Rule Committee, (1994 to 2003) and the Board of Directors of the Illinois Humanities Council and the Illinois Arts Alliance.
Governor Blagojevich picked Carper to serve as regional director for the West Central region for Opportunity Returns, a regional economic development plan fostering job creation and targeted economic development. He graduated from Western Illinois University and served in the U.S. Army from 1967 to 1970 in Thailand and Vietnam. He was a small business owner-operator from 1971 to 1991 when he was first elected Mayor of Macomb.