Candidates face off for Frerichs' senate seat

CHAMPAIGN—There is no shortage of candidates to take over the state senate seat of Michael Frerichs. And on Wednesday, those being considered for the position gave public presentations to the public about why they are right for the job.

The public forum was an opportunity for the 12 candidates to share why they want to serve in the seat vacated by Treasurer-elect Frerichs, who assumes that position on Monday, which is also the same day that Democratic Party chairmen in Champaign and Vermilion counties could decide his replacement in the senate.

“It is a who's who list of the Democrats of East Central Illinois,” said candidate and Champaign County assistant state's attorney, Scott Bennett.

“The successor to Mike Frerichs is going to be chosen from the people who have asked to be considered for the position,” said Al Klein, chairman of the Champaign County Democrats.

Those people gathered at the Illinois Terminal Wednesday evening, where they introduced themselves, listed their qualifications, and address the issues important to the 52nd district.

“We especially need to work on funding the schools in rural Vermilion County,” said candidate Michael Langendorf of Urbana. “Which are all in very severe debt situations.”

“The biggest problem facing the state of course is the budget,” said candidate and Urbana mayor, Laurel Prussing. “And of course I've got some experience doing budgets.”

Those comments will be considered by Klein and Frank Wright, the Democratic Party chairmen in Champaign and Vermilion counties, respectively. They will ultimately select Frerichs' successor.

“I have more votes numerically because there were more votes cast for Frerichs in Champaign County than in Vermilion County,” said Klein. “But I hope it wouldn't come to that.”

Klein says he's looking for how the future-senator would handle policy and a mixed government. But he's also looking for public feedback, because whoever is selected to serve out this term is likely to become the Democratic candidate when it's up for grabs again in 2016.

“It's important to fill that vacancy with someone who can win two years from now,” said candidate Don Crist, of Danville.

A final decision will be announced on Monday at the earliest.

Other candidates up for the position include:

Laurie Bonnett

C. Pius Weibel

Lynn Foster

Michael Puhr

Robert Rasmus

Jamar Brown

Michael Olsta

Brent West

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