PONTIAC -- After state Treasurer Dan Rutherford had spent 45 minutes at his Pontiac office with members of The Pantagraph and his hometown media, communication director Matt Butterfield asked for final questions.
"No, not yet," Rutherford interjected. "I'm having too much fun just being able to sit down and visit about my home area."
It was an opportunity, Rutherford explained, that comes too infrequently and he wasn't ready to cut it short.
A native of Chenoa, Rutherford began his career as a legislative assistant in Springfield following his graduation from Illinois State University in 1978. Last year, he won the treasurer's seat.
"I think Chicago is one of the class cities of the world," he said. "I really enjoy Springfield, too. But this is my home. I buy groceries in Pontiac. I go buy orange juice and get suggestions on how to fix the state's money problems. I do my dry cleaning here, and buy gas in Dwight or Bloomington. So, I try to get into different parts of the area because these are my communities."
He keeps in touch with friends and family in the area, despite the many demands of the position to which he was elected last November. He tries to work at least one day per week in his Pontiac office -- an office funded entirely out of his own pocket.
"We often use Pontiac as a central meeting point when we have to get staff members from Chicago and Springfield together," he said. "But I am pretty adamant about being back on weekends and Mondays. Of course, it depends a lot on the state legislators' schedule, but I try."
Between college and the Capitol, he spent time in the private sector, joining ServiceMaster in 1985. He was elected to the Illinois House in 1993, eventually rising to assistant Republican leader. Ten years later, he was elected to the Illinois Senate.
Through it all, he always found his way home to Livingston County for meetings, events and homecomings, usually by way of his trusty Pontiac, Pongee, which has its own Facebook page.
Even with all that travel up and down Interstate 55, he said the most surprising aspect of the treasurer's job is the time demanded of him. Always willing to accept invitations to speak at dinners and Rotary Club meetings, the requests have not fallen off since his title changed.
"I'm a finance guy and finance is such a big issue," he said. "Also, as a Republican and working with so many members of the General Assembly who are Democrats, often, you find groups who want the other side of the story. So, I am called on to do a lot of that. A lot of this is self-imposed, though. I drive a hard schedule and I'm proud of that."
Rutherford uses social media to keep connected, too. His Facebook status and Twitter updates are filled with reports on what he is having for dinner or that he may be having a glass of chardonnay and listening to the Doors.
"It's one of the ways I keep my feet on the ground," he said. "I'm pretty open and work hard at trying not to be distant. And, I keep up-to-date on what's going on locally. I look at the local news media and look at the weddings, obituaries, homecoming courts and 4-H stuff, for example.
"I won't forget where I came from."