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Freeport businessman to replace Sacia

Another applicant says he likes choice

A Freeport businessman is expected to become the new state representative for the 89th district, which includes parts of Whiteside, Carroll and Ogle counties.

Republican officials are set to announce tonight their selection of Brian Stewart to replace Rep. Jim Sacia, R-Pecatonica, who is resigning at the end of September. 

Thirteen men applied for the position. The district also includes Stephenson, Jo Daviess and Winnebago counties. Nearly half the voters are in Freeport-based Stephenson County.

One of the candidates, Dan Stevens, said he received a letter Tuesday saying that the Republican chairmen from the six counties have picked Stewart, a former Stephenson County GOP chairman, to replace Sacia. 

Stevens, owner and publisher of Stephenson County's weekly Village Voices, said he liked the choice.

"Brian Stewart is not a professional politician. He is willing to make the difficult choices. He's got a good head on his shoulders," he said. 

Stevens said he had been considering running in the March primary for the position, but wouldn't because he has confidence in Stewart.

The letter, he said, encouraged the applicants not to challenge Stewart in the primary.

Stewart, president and CEO of Nationwide Inbound Inc., didn't return numerous calls for comment Monday and Tuesday. 

In an interview with Freeport's Journal-Standard earlier this month, Stewart said his experience as a law enforcement officer, elected official, member of the armed services, and owner of a small business prepared him for helping solve the state's problems.

"From public service to private-sector job creation, I feel I could provide the broad base of knowledge and passion for service that Rep. Sacia has provided for over a decade," Stewart said. 

In July, Stewart announced that Inbound, which he founded in 1997, would add up to 40 positions at its call center by year's end to handle a growing list of clients around the world, according to the Journal-Standard. 

Now, the business has 85 operators and 15 management staff, the newspaper reported. 

The party chairmen's votes are weighted on the number of voters who cast ballots for Sacia in their respective counties in the 2012 election.

Stephenson County claimed 16,478 of Sacia's 41,340 votes. He got 943 votes in Whiteside County, 3,983 in Ogle County and 4,284 in Carroll County.

Under state law, the GOP gets to pick Sacia's replacement because he is a Republican.

Sacia, a former FBI agent, is in his sixth term as a lawmaker, having served about 11 years. He says he may run for another office. 

The GOP made its choice in a conference call Sept. 9, but Republicans have been keeping their selection secret. 

"We are in the process of notifying the applicants of our decision and believe, out of respect for them, that it would be inappropriate to release the name of the appointee before then," Stephenson County Republican Chairman Andrew Smith said in a statement Monday. 

He said all of the party chairmen made public announcements about the open position and gave people 10 days to apply. 

Besides Stewart and Stevens, the other applicants for the position are Winnebago Village President Frank Eubank; Terry Ingram of Apple River; Ron Colson of Mount Morris; Steven Kelley of Thomson; Tim Clay of Dakota; Dean Wright of Pearl City; Justin St. Clair of Leaf River; Shawn Connors, former village president of Pecatonica; Dan Packard and Michael Lehmann of Lena; and Doug Knodle of Byron.

To attend

Republicans will announce their appointee for Rep. Jim Sacia of Pecatonica's seat at an event at 5:30 p.m. today at the Freeport Public Library, 100 E. Douglas St. 

Email for more information.

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