Tom Demmer is optimistic Illinois can move forward.
The newly elected Republican state representative from Dixon was sworn into the 98th General Assembly as one of 25 new members at a ceremony Wednesday in the University of Illinois at Springfield auditorium.
While a shadow lingers over issues such as pension reform, the 26-year-old Demmer hopes new membership and a fresh start can bring change.
Demmer has taken over for Rep. Jerry Mitchell, R-Sterling, who retired after 18 years, and who endorsed Demmer as his replacement in the 90th District.
“The problems here are well-documented, there’s a pension problem and pressure on the budget with the growing costs of Medicare,” said Demmer, the second-youngest member of the House of Representatives. “I see it as an opportunity for a new General Assembly. Everybody, Republican or Democrat, from Chicago or downstate, has heard the will of the people in Illinois and it’s strong. I’m optimistic we have what it takes here.”
State Rep. Mike Smiddy, D-Hillsdale, also was sworn in Wednesday to represent the 71st District.
He replaces Republican Rich Morthland to form what’s become a super majority in both the state House of Representatives and Senate.
Smiddy spent time since the November election traveling through the 71st District, which includes portions of Carroll, Henry, Rock Island and Whiteside counties to discuss issues with citizens. Economic development is at the top of his legislative agenda.
“People should not have to worry about whether or not their full-time job will pay enough to raise their families,” Smiddy said. “We have to work together to strengthen our education system, invest in effective job training programs, and build a solid infrastructure that will support an economy that fosters the kind of job creation that gives families a fair chance at financial security.”
The House met today to elect officers. Both Demmer and Smiddy will not know which committees they will be assigned to until later. Demmer, who is KSB Hospital’s director of marketing and strategic planning and a Lee County board member, said he would like a focus of his to be on health care issues.
Demmer said the sense of history surrounding Wednesday’s ceremonies in Springfield made an impression on him.
“When you think of all the great people and great things that have happened here, you get humbled,” Demmer said. “I’m just grateful and excited to start work here.”