Southern Illinois lawmakers who attended the Aug. 25 Union County Economic Development Corporation legislative lunch included, from left, State Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg; State Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro; State Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville; and State Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton. Photo by Geof Skinner.Union County CEO program students who attended the legislative lunch included, in the first row, from left, Erin Dillow from Shawnee Hills Christian Academy in Anna; Jessica Glasco from Anna-Jonesboro Community High School; and Julian Smith from A-JCHS. In the second row are Shad Turner, Aaron Lence and Dillon Harris, all from A-JCHS. Photo by Geof Skinner.

Legislative lunch held in Union County

The Union County Economic Development Corporation, UCEDC, hosted a legislative lunch Thursday, Aug. 25, at Great Boars of Fire between Anna and Cobden.

State legislators, local business owners and residents of Union County came together to discuss leading political issues that are facing both the county and nation, as well as local business success stories.

Southern Illinois legislators who addressed the large audience which was on hand included State Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton; State Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg; State Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro; and longtime State Sen. David Luechtefeld, R-Okawville.

Each of the four legislators represent Union County in the Illinois General Assembly. Parts of the county are four different state senate and state representative legislative districts.

Forby discussed the Illinois state budget. He noted that: “We live in the best country in the world and we’ll make it.”

Phelps praised Luechtefeld and his time in office. Phelps also talked about the need for greater revenue but said that it shouldn’t come from taxing retirement income. 

Bryant highlighted the four Southern Illinois legislators’ ability to work together for the people in this portion of the state, contrasting their bipartisanship with the other politicians in Springfield. She echoed other speakers in saying that the state government needs to stay out of the way of businesses. 

Luechtefeld, in the unique position of not seeking reelection this November, used his time to share some advice for fixing the State of Illinois. He told the crowd “Illinois is in worse shape than you have any idea.”

“It’s too late to cut your way out of it, and too late to tax your way out of it,” Luechtefeld added. Having a balanced budget now wouldn’t save the state. Instead, Illinois has to save much more than it spends.

Positive change can only be made when people want to move into Illinois, but Luechtefeld said there are some entities in the state that don’t want that type of change.

He gave a nod to the much-talked about “entrepreneurial spirit” in suggestion that change starts locally, ending his remarks with the question, “If you don’t do it, who’s gonna do it for you?”

Luechtefeld was given a standing ovation by those in attendance in recognition of his long and dedicated service to Southern Illinois.

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill.; U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; and Illinois State Treasurer Mike Frerichs sent representatives to the legislative lunch.

Bost was represented by Lauren Sanders. Frerichs represented the state treasurer. Brandi Bradley represented Durbin. 

Union County CEO program chairman Rollie Hawk introduced the six students who have begun the program for the new academic year. The program gives students intensive, hands-on experience in entrepreneurial and business opportunities. 

Hawk stated that it is important to invest in these young entrepreneurs who can boost local economies, because “we don’t have time to keep waiting for the next election.”

Brandi Bradley, Sen. Durbin’s representative, remarked that Union County’s success with the  CEO program has led to the forming  of nine other programs in the Southern Illinois region.

Greg Cook, of Cook Portable Warehouses, Lynn Crabtree, owner of Masters Choice, and Cindy Cain, executive director of the Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau, also spoke. Each speaker showcased how their business supports Union County’s economy through challenging their respective industries and driving tourism into Southern Illinois.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158

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