State senate candidate called to step down

Republican state Senate candidate Al Reynolds of Danville is being called to step down after he said that minority men were more interested in drugs than education at a political forum Wednesday night.

Reynolds, who is running for the 52nd district seat in eastern Illinois, made the remark at a forum co-sponsored by the county NAACP and the League of Women voters.

Reynolds and Democratic incumbent Mike Frerichs had been asked how to increase minority enrollment at the University.

“I’ve been in the city and the dichotomy of the women and the men in the minorities, there is a difference in the fact that most minority women, either the single parent or coming from a poor neighborhood, are motivated more so than the minority men,” Reynolds responded. “And it’s a pretty good reason. Most of the women who are single parents have to find work to support their family. The minority men find it more lucrative to be able to do drugs or other avenues rather than do education. It’s easier.”

He added that the government needs to provide ways “other than just sports avenues” for men to “better themselves before the women have to support them all.”

The forum audience of about 25 people didn’t directly respond to Reynolds’ comment, but applauded loudly when Frerichs countered his opponent’s assertions a few minutes later.

“I’ve been working in this community for a long time and I’ve worked with a lot of African-American men,” Frerichs said. “They’re not pursuing careers in sports. They’re not trying to sell drugs. They’re trying to support their families.”

The Champaign Tea Party denounced Reynolds’ comments in a press release Thursday, adding that they condemned negative racial opinion, speech or attitude.

According to the press release, the Champaign Tea Party is not affiliated with the East Central Illinois Tea Party, which Reynolds founded in June of last year. He resigned from the group in October 2009.

Reynolds issued a statement Thursday night apologizing for any statements that might have offended the audience and the community.

“That was certainly not my intent,” he said. “My comments were intended to initiate a conversation which could lead to solutions for not only African-American youth anticipating college, but youth in general. As an elected official it is my intent to build real educational opportunities, for everyone of all races and gender, not just applicants for admission to the University of Illinois.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report