Updated: Bennett chosen for 52nd seat

Updated: Bennett chosen for 52nd seat

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NEW 1:20 p.m. Monday:

The area's newest state senator said there's a lot of work to be done, and he'll be getting down to it very soon.

Democrat Scott Bennett made the comments Monday after he was sworn in as the newest senator in the 52nd district, which comprises portions of Champaign and Vermilion counties.

Bennett said education and the economy are two of the most important issues to him as he takes office.

Champaign County Democratic Party Chairman Al Klein and his counterpart in Vermilion County Frank Wright appointed Bennett to the seat.  Klein said the combination of Bennett's rural and urban political experience and his time working for the state's attorney's office made him the best candidate.

Bennett said he plans to run for re-election in 2016 and will resign his position as an assistant state's attorney in Champaign County to focus on his new office.

Hear more from Bennett here.  Hear more from Klein here.


Original story:

URBANA — Scott Bennett of Champaign will replace Mike Frerichs as the state senator for the 52nd District that includes most of the population of Champaign and Vermilion counties, officials said today.

Bennett, 37, an assistant Champaign County state's attorney, is expected to be formally selected this morning and later sworn at the Champaign County Courthouse.

Frerichs, who will be sworn in around noon today as Illinois' new state treasurer, resigned from the seat at shortly before midnight last night.

Bennett, who will serve the two years' remaining Frerichs' current term, was chosen for the post by Champaign County Democratic Party Chairman Al Klein and Frank Wright, who holds the same position in Vermilion County. Eleven other Democrats applied for the position, including Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing, former Vermilion County Clerk Lynn Foster and Laurie Bonnett, who was Frerichs' chief of staff and is president of the Champaign school board.

Bennett, a native of Gibson City and a one-time White House intern in the Clinton administration and also with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, is the nephew of incoming state Rep. Tom Bennett, a Republican. He also is secretary of the county Democratic Party.

Bennett is married, has two young children and is a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law.

Last week, in a public forum featuring the 12 candidates to replace Frerichs, Bennett stressed his farming and small-town background.

"I bring that up because the 52nd District is more than just Champaign, Urbana and Danville. It also includes a lot of farms, and includes over a dozen small communities that have concerns and needs very different from its urban neighbors," said Bennett. "And I believe I'm one of the only candidates on this slate that understands the concerns and the needs of those communities."

His background, Bennett said "is conservative, but I have a long history of working with progressive candidates and their causes."

He also said he would work to improve education funding and job opportunities in Illinois.

"We are failing our citizens in so many ways," he said. "You invest in education. You make sure that we all have a fair and equitable chance at technology and training so that it shouldn't matter, your opportunities shouldn't be dependent on what Zip Code you were lucky enough to be born into. It's also to make sure we reinvest in vocational training in our high schools so those students who are interested in a four-year degree can still get job training so they can support their families after they get out of school."

He also called for "reinvesting in mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment, not just for those who need the treatment themselves, but to take that burden off the family members and the support systems that are in place now, that have to do so much more because the state isn't pulling its weight."

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787 wrote on January 12, 2015 at 8:01 am

NO!   Choose Laurie Bonnett instead.  She's perfect for the job. 

bramfeld@gmail.com wrote on January 12, 2015 at 9:01 am

Congratulations to Mr. Bennett.  I am not sure what he means by "my background is conservative."  His political background is working for Clinton and Durbin, neither of whom are remotely conservative.  I have a communist background, but I  have a history of working with Ronald Reagan and  Ted Cruz.  Oh wait, I guess I'm not a communist. 

I can only assume that he wouldn't be appointed if he were anything but a liberal Democrat.  I would be plenty irritated if the Republican party appointed a progressive.

John F. Bramfeld

issuedriven wrote on January 12, 2015 at 9:01 am
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Congratulations to Scott Bennett!  Well done to the Democratic Party for selecting someone that is very much like Senator Frerichs!  Please remember that Frerichs was a Republican at one time and switched parties....long ago!  The 52 District will be well represented with Mr. Bennett based upon his political experience and his background from a farming perspective.  Regardless of his conservative history he evidently was a good choice for other's in the Democratic Party.