SYCAMORE – About two dozen state lawmakers have announced over the past few months that they will either resign or not run for re-election in 2018.
Among those those opting not to run are state Rep. Bob Pritchard, R-Hinckley, who spent 15 years in the Illinois House, and state Sen. Tim Bivins, R-Dixon, who was appointed in 2008.
Four candidates are looking to take Pritchard’s seat, and are preparing for the March 20 primary and the Nov. 6, 2013, general election.
The lone Republican candidate as of Thursday is State Farm agent Jeff Keicher.
As an insurance agent, Keicher said he has encountered a number of customers who decided to move out of Illinois.
“The top reason that they cite is the tax burden in Illinois, and they don’t see it getting better,” Keicher said. “I’m committed to run because of the tax burden that the citizens in the state are facing.”
In a letter Keicher wrote to the Daily Chronicle in August, he said the stagnant economy is hobbling resources with overregulation, taxes and uncertainty.
“I want an Illinois where working in government means you understand that you are not using resources or revenues, but that you are using ‘other people’s money’ each and every time you make a decision to spend,” he said. “An Illinois where we see a misuse of the taxpayers’ resources as an injustice, not ‘just the way it is.’ ”
So far, two Democratic candidates have announced their intentions to run for Pritchard’s seat: DeKalb County Board Member Paul Stoddard, District 9, and DeKalb School District 428 Board Secretary Howard Solomon.
Stoddard, a Northern Illinois University associate professor, said he decided to run to try to make Springfield a little more responsive to the people.
“I’m tired of the way we do politics in Illinois and nationally, so I wanted to run and see if we couldn’t try some things to change the tone,” he said.
Stoddard has been on the County Board for 10 years, and said one of the first things he tried to change was the policy of allowing the majority party to head all seven committees. Instead, the board shifted to a proportional representation system, in which the number of minority members determined how many chairmanships they could hold.
“I have a history of working to try to make the system fairer for everyone involved,” Stoddard said. “It’s important to do that as a majority, because you’d be giving up something to make a fairer system.”
He said that he also will be focused on providing infrastructure and an educated workforce to attract out-of-state businesses and ending gerrymandering.
Solomon made his announcement not long after Stoddard.
“Being on the District 428 school board enabled me to get a glimpse of how much damage is being done to our state by the lack of a state budget,” Solomon said.
Although he agrees with a lot of Stoddard’s positions, Solomon said one thing that separates him from his opponent is his loose affiliation with the Democratic Party.
“I have no intention of outspending my opponent in either the primary or the general election,” he said. “I want to win hearts, not raise funds.”
On his business card, which features an upside-down mule to represent his independence, he affirms his belief that strong unions are an asset and not a liability.
“I recognize Social Security and pensions wouldn’t be coming my way if it were not for the people in unions who worked for livable conditions in this country,” Solomon said. “I get tired of the union bashing that has presumed that paying people well is going to break their personal bank when I so firmly believe that this is not the case.”
The fourth candidate vying for Pritchard’s seat is John Eldon Mathey, chairman of the Libertarian Party of DeKalb County, who decided to run after the 2016 elections because he didn’t feel anyone was offering solutions to the state’s problems.
According to a news release, Mathey said Springfield has restricted the freedoms of individuals, families and businesses all over the state, and he is prepared to show district residents they have Libertarian values.
“They are Libertarian – they just don’t know it yet,” Mathey said in the release.
As a third party candidate, Mathey will have to collect many more signatures than his established party counterparts, which is why his team is coordinating campaign efforts in every corner of the district.
“I’m trying to understand the issues that matter most to people and applying my principles to that,” Mathey said.
Bivins’ seat has three candidates: Democrat David Simpson of Shabbona and Republicans Rep. Brian Stewart, of Freeport, and Liandro Arellano Jr., the mayor of Dixon.
DeKalb County offices that are up for nomination in 2018 include county clerk, treasurer, sheriff, regional superintendent of schools and one County Board seat from each district.
Sheriff Roger Scott, Treasurer Christine Johnson and Regional Superintendent Amanda Christensen are currently running unopposed, but Republican County Clerk Doug Johnson will be challenged by Democrat Carolyn Morris.
Established political party candidates will have between Nov. 27 and Dec. 4 to file their petitions for the March 20 primary. Election and candidate information is available on the DeKalb County clerk’s website.