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Christian County GOP leader to challenge Andy Manar for state Senate seat

State Journal Register

Thursday, October 12, 2017  |  Article  |  Doug Fink

Candidates--Statewide (12) Manar, Andy--State Senate, 48

The chairman of the Christian County Republican Party said Wednesday he is running to unseat Democratic Senator Andy Manar in the 48th Senate District.

Seth McMillan of rural Taylorville said he is running because “I don’t feel that Senator Manar has represented me and my family and the majority of constituents in the district.

“I think he’s voted for the city of Chicago more than his district,” McMillan said.

He cited specifically Manar’s votes in favor of House Bill 40 that provided for public funding of abortions in Illinois and for the “Illinois TRUST Act” that prevents law enforcement officials from detaining people based solely on their immigration status. Although the bill was supported by many law enforcement officials and signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, many Republicans said it made Illinois a sanctuary state for undocumented immigrants.

McMillan also criticized Manar’s signature legislation, the school funding reform bill, which he said is a bailout for Chicago schools, and for supporting “out of balance budgets” and the 32 percent income tax increase in early July. Rauner has said the budget is out of balance by $1.7 billion and has called on lawmakers to help him identify cuts that can be made to bring it into balance.

“I’m a small business owner. In order for my business to be successful, people need money to spend,” McMillan said. “Raising income taxes without reforms to how Illinois works is not going to help.”

Manar, of Bunker Hill, has served in the Senate since 2013; he could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

McMillan, 33, owns a landscaping and lawn care business in Taylorville that employs about a dozen people.

McMillan said he would have voted against the budget and tax increase, even though the Taylorville Correctional Center is in the district and a number of state workers live in the 48th.

“We just needed reform, some kind of reform so that business owners like myself can feel like we can be competitive,” he said.

He specifically cited the need for workers compensation reform to bring down costs to make Illinois competitive in that area with neighboring states.

“I have friends in business in Indiana, Missouri, other states,” he said. “Their insurance premiums on workers comp in some cases are 25 to 30 percent less. We at least need to be competitive with other states.”

McMillan said he agreed the school funding formula needed to change, but objected to that issue being tied to providing additional money to Chicago school pensions.

“I don’t think pensions should have been used as a bargaining chip to fund schools,” he said.

He also noted that the budget agreement cut the amount of money some districts received from the personal property replacement tax which offset the gains some of them got from the revised funding formula.

McMillan said he is pro-life and would support a bill to repeal the provisions of House Bill 40. He said he disagrees with Rauner’s decision to sign the bill. But unlike some other Republicans, McMillan said he’s not ready to abandon Rauner.

“I’m not at that point,” he said. “I’m going to disagree with people in my own party from time to time.”

With the mass shootings in Las Vegas, there is renewed attention on gun control measures that could come up during the veto session, including a bill to ban the sale of assault weapons and several proposals to ban “bump stocks” that increase the rate of fire for weapons. McMillan said he hasn’t read the proposals in detail. However, he said more needs to be done to address mental health issues that can trigger mass shootings.

“A lot of these cases that have happened recently, I feel like there could have been some warning signs,” he said. “I just don’t think there should be knee-jerk reactions to these things.”

McMillan said he owns several firearms and is a member of the Christian County affiliate of the National Rifle Association. He does not have a concealed carry permit.

McMillan said he supports changing the way political maps are drawn and term limits for lawmakers. He said legislators should be limited to eight to 10 years in office.

McMillan is married with two children. He previously served eight years on the Taylorville school board.

The 48th Senate District includes all or parts of Christian, Macon, Macoupin, Madison, Montgomery and Sangamon counties. It includes the southeast portion of Springfield.

-- Contact Doug Finke: doug.finke@sj-r.com, 788-1527, twitter.com/dougfinkesjr.