Schimpf ready to tackle budget challenges
Now that the election dust has settled, Paul Schimpf, a Republican from Waterloo who won the race for the open 58th District state Senate seat, is ready to get to work in the Assembly to turn the state's troubled economy around.
Schimpf, a 45-year-old attorney, defeated Democrat Sheila Simon, a former lieutenant governor and daughter of late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, with 60.6 percent of the vote. Schimpf said improving Illinois’ economy will be his priority when he gets to Springfield.
“We absolutely have to get our economy going again,” Schimpf recently said. “We are never going to solve all of these problems that we face in Illinois unless we change things where people want to come to Illinois instead of wanting to leave our state. Solving those problems is going to require bipartisan cooperation.”
Schimpf, a retired Marine, said he will try to meet with the other state senators before he takes office.
“The only specific promises that I can make to the voters of the 58th Senate District is that I’m going to work as hard as I can,” Schimpf said. “I’m going to be completely honest with them, and I’m going to vote our values.”
Despite the many challenges Schimpf will face in office, he is confident that he will work for his constituents to help make their lives better.
“I would not have run if I thought that the situation was hopeless in Illinois. There’s too much talent; there’s too many resources for us to be performing as badly as we are,” he said. “I think Illinois can move back to its position as a leader of the country.”
Simon called Schimpf to congratulate him and complimented him for not running attack ads like so many other candidates did this year.
“This race was a good one in which each candidate respected each other,” Simon said about the election. “There was so much by way of negative messages this time around that I think our race is a hopeful thing, that two people can run against each other and respect each other, and I think that probably Mr. Schimpf will be in better shape as a state senator for not having been attacked in an ugly and personal way.”
Schimpf also said Simon was a worthy opponent.
“I would like to commend Sheila Simon on running a hard-fought, honorable campaign,” Schimpf said in a prepared statement on Election Day. “She is a tremendous public servant, and I hope she will remain active in the public sphere.”
The district stretches from Cahokia to Carbondale and then to Mount Vernon. It includes the southern portion of St. Clair County and all or parts of Monroe, Randolph, Jackson, Union, Perry and Jefferson counties.
Schimpf said the 2016 election is the first election he has won. He previously ran for attorney general in 2014, but lost to incumbent Lisa Madigan.
Schimpf also said he ran again for state Senate because he wanted to make Illinois a better place after he retired from the Marines.
“I decided that I wasn’t done serving the public,” he said.
As for how he would solve the state’s budget woes, Schimpf said there needs to be a thorough investigation of the budget to get rid of any pork that may be larding up the machinery of government.
“We need to re-examine the budget from top to bottom," Schimpf said. "We must rid the budget of fraud and abuse — and eliminate pet projects instituted by legislators."
Schimpf is grateful for the opportunity the people have entrusted with him, and he is ready to get started. As he prepares for office, he had kind words for those who voted for him.
“Thank you to the voters of the 58th Senate District for trusting me to be their next senator. I promise to work hard, be honest and vote our values,” Schimpf said. “I am humbled by the trust the voters of the 58th Senate District have placed in me. The challenges our state faces are real and severe. Solving them will require humility, hard work and bipartisan cooperation.”