Nine months to go: local candidates prepare for general elections

As official results continue to be tallied from the state’s primaries nearly two weeks ago, some candidates running for the local seats in the Illinois General Assembly are slowly beginning to prepare for the Nov. 2 general election.

The races for local seats in the Illinois Senate’s 52nd district and Illinois House’s 103rd district, share a similar theme this year: each race is between a Democratic incumbent and a Republican political newcomer.

While the challengers have begun to focus on their campaigns, the candidates seeking re-election continue their work on and off the legislative floor, they say, without much attention to the November elections.

Illinois House – 103rd district

In the House race, the newcomer is Norman Davis, who owns Lake of the Woods Photographers in downtown Mahomet.

Davis, who has never held a political office, said he is just beginning to prepare for the general elections, which are nearly nine months away.

In preparing for the election, he said he is gauging the needs of the people of Champaign County as well as looking for ways to raise local money for his campaign.

Citing Republican Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts in which Brown won the U.S. Senate seat that once belonged to the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy, Davis said he is encouraged by what he sees as a change in the nation’s political ideology.

“The mood of the country and the area in particular is not as liberal-minded as it was a year ago,” he said.

He said he wants to represent his party and take the needs of the whole state into account.

“I want to do what’s best for the Republicans and definitely not what’s just best for Chicago,” he said.

Incumbent Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-103, said at this time she has not begun to create a formal campaign plan. Instead, she said she continues to focus on her role in the Illinois General Assembly by doing work on behalf of her constituency.

“I’m focusing on what needs to be done in the state,” she said. “I’m moving along (in the campaign) in that way.”

On Thursday, Jakobsson introduced a bill into the House that would create a coroner’s trauma fund. Money from this fund would be distributed to Illinois coroners and medical examiners based on how many deaths they certify to be traumatic. As of press time, Jakobsson could not be reached for further comment on the bill.

She said she is also working on a bill she introduced in November that would give University faculty three seats on the Board of Trustees.

Illinois Senate – 52nd district

Retired information technology businessman Al Reynolds of Danville will likely be running as the Republican candidate in the Senate’s 52nd district race.

As a write-in candidate, Reynolds needed at least 1,000 write-in votes from the Feb. 2 primary, for which official results will be released later this month. However, according to early estimates, Reynolds should get the nomination. He currently has 639 votes in Champaign County, said J.J. Farney, deputy clerk for the Champaign County Clerk, and 372 votes in Vermillion County, said Marietta West, election specialist for the Vermilion County Clerk.

Organizer of the East Central Illinois Taxed Enough Already Party, not an official political party, but a local group advocating for limited government, Reynolds said he is starting his candidacy by getting people to know who he is, adding that he would like to promote his candidacy to students on campus.

As a retiree who said he has the time for a political campaign, Reynolds said recent political decisions and the threat of tax increases are what prompted him to run for office.

“You cannot be a non-participant anymore,” he said. “Regulations and laws that are coming down, they affect everyone in the state.”

Reynolds will be running against Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-52, who has served in the Illinois General Assembly since 2006. Frerichs said he is focused on a variety of spring legislative work.

“If you really want to reap the harvest, you have to sow the seeds, early,” he said.

Some of the legislation he is working on, he said, aims to ensure that public services like health care and education are funded.

However, he said he will not be knocking on any doors too soon.

“It’s a little early in the season to be seriously campaigning,” he said.