Best Local Politician

Rory Ellinger

Rory Ellinger passed away in April at the age of 72, but the University City representative's service is worthy of a lifetime-achievement award. In the 1960s Ellinger marched with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma and Boston, and acted as one of the civil-rights leader's bodyguards during that time. He later served on the University City School Board for twelve years before getting elected to the state legislature in 2010. During his time as a state rep, Ellinger was one of the few liberal voices in a GOP-dominated legislature. Although he knew he would have a hard time getting many of his progressive bills passed, he proposed them anyway and got the conversation started, such as when he proposed two criminal reform bills in 2013 — one that decriminalized marijuana amounts of less than 35 grams and another that allowed people to get nonsexual, nonviolent misdemeanors expunged from their records. Neither bill passed, but they have been followed by several similar bills helping to inch toward reform. For his last political act, Ellinger saw the passing of his breastfeeding bill, which respects a mother's right to naturally feed her baby in public.

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