Urbana restaurant owner declares candidacy for state rep

Robert Meister made his first step in running for state representative in the 103rd District by officially announcing his candidacy at the Boneyard Second Street Basin’s Stone Arch Bridge in Champaign on Tuesday.

Meister said his campaign revolves around the idea of a “We” concept, in terms of attracting voters from not only Republicans, but young people, entrepreneurs and college students as well.

“That will probably be the key to success for our state as if ‘We’ starts to mean more than just one group of people,” he said.

Despite being a Republican, Meister said he wants to reach out to the Democrats in his area, especially because he hails from Urbana, which he said is predominantly Democratic.

“I understand what their thought processes are … and understanding is the first step you have to take to compromise. If you just outright don’t understand what someone is saying, you’re never gonna reach a compromise,” Meister said.

He said he would like to work closer with the University in terms of lowering tuition costs because he feels it’s disheartening when students, especially minorities and people of low economic means, are unable to attend the University due to financial difficulties.

Jessica Devore, Champaign resident, said she agrees with Meister’s approach to the tuition situation in colleges.

“I like the fact that he’s trying to work with the school to try to make things more affordable for people,” Devore said.

“That’s one thing we need right now.”

Habeeb G. Habeeb, treasurer of the Champaign County Republicans, said he considers no other candidate more suitable for the job for state representative than Meister.

“There have been other people that have indicated interest, but when they knew about Rob and were introduced to him, they deferred to him and thought that his optimism and energy would serve us really well,” Habeeb said.

As the owner of a local business, Minneci’s Ristorante, Meister said he wants to create incentives and rewards for businesses that hire veterans.

Meister added that Illinois currently tends to see all businesses as equal in terms of taxation, whether it’s an international corporation such McDonald’s or a local business like his own.

“We need to start looking at small businesses and micro businesses, ones that (have) 50 employees or less, differently than the big corporations,” Meister said.

The next big step for Meister after making his announcement is attending an array of fundraisers that he will hold twice a month. The purpose of these events is to encourage more people to vote, he said.

“So every event we have, no matter what it is ­— we might be showing a movie on the Quad or we might be going door to door and mowing people’s lawns that are unable to,” Meister said. “But we will still be trying to push forward that people register to vote so that their voice can be heard and they can decide their own future.”