Meet your 52nd District candidates

By Krizia Vance

The race for the State Senate seat for the 52nd District is already underway with three candidates vying for the position: Democratic incumbent Mike Frerichs and Republicans John Bambenek and Alan Nudo.

Frerichs, the only Democrat running, won in the district representing Champaign and Vermilion counties in 2006.

Currently, Frerichs is working on the gambling expansion project where he hopes a casino will be constructed in Danville, said Kevin Wilson, Frerichs’ campaign manager.

“He thinks that’s a very important issue right now because Danville and Vermilion County in general have been hit with some very tough economic times,” Wilson said. “He understands that it’s going to be a huge job creator for the area.”

Wilson said a pressing issue Frerichs hears from concerned citizens is how the tax increase is affecting business in the area.

“One of the messages Mike is trying to stress right now is that it was an unfortunate event that the tax increase had to be passed,” Wilson said. “But if you look at what would’ve happened without the tax increase, the results would’ve been pretty disastrous.”

Frerichs plans to continue his old campaigning strategy of going from door to door as well as speaking at town hall meetings and the University, Wilson said.

So far, only Bambanek and Nudo have stepped forward to challenge Frerichs as the GOP’s candidate.

Bambenek, a small business owner from Champaign, said he decided to run because of his dissatisfaction with the state’s job climate and budget.

“There’s a lot of policies being driven at the state level that are really impacting the ability of young people to get jobs out of college,” Bambenek said.

Bambenek said he doesn’t approve how the state spends more than it makes. He said he would try to get the state’s budget under control by bringing down the spending to a manageable level.

“The tax hike, the way it was passed, the size, the magnitude really affects people, businesses, business owners,” said Bambenek. “A lot of people are just unhappy with the direction the state is going in.”

Bambenek said he’s campaigning by attending community events, forums and town hall meetings, but primarily plans going door to door.

Nudo, Champaign County Board member, said it’s a good time for him to run because of the state’s situation and his ability to negotiate.

“(Bipartisanship) is not happening in Springfield. There’s ideological lockdowns and party-line voting and party loyalty,” Nudo said. “I work with both sides. There’s issues you can take from both sides.”

Nudo said he plans to examine certain projects, fees and commissions that are unnecessary.

He said students who graduate from college in the state are more likely to go out of the state to find jobs.

“The atmosphere is not good, and as a state we have to be able to pay our bills and run our state like a business is run,” he said.

Nudo added that the state needs to create an environment where more jobs are created because there are people with all different types of educational and work experience who can’t find jobs.

He said he plans to reach out by talking to community members.

“I hope we’ll have some debates and some areas where we can discuss some issues.” Nudo said. “I like doing that and it’ll be fun.”

The frontrunners of each party will be decided in the primary elections held on March 20, 2012.