Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) is celebrating a victory in the changed-up 24th District after carrying both DuPage and Cook Counties.
At a party on election night at Gulliver’s Pizza in Oakbrook Terrace, Dillard mingled with volunteers and supporters while watching the election results come in.
“I am committed to make Illinois’ economy be one of the most conducive to job creation in America,” said Dillard in an interview. “I’ll use my experience to put this state back on a sound
fiscal foot. It’s time to make Illinois work again through job creation, pension reform, Medicaid reform and having a state budget that lives within its means.”
“We left it in the hands of the voters,” said Nybo, 34, in an interview. “I’m very happy with the kind of campaign that we ran: we worked until the last minute.”
Dillard, 56, who was first elected in 1995 and serves as co-chairperson of the Senate Judiciary Civil Law Committee, bid for re-election in the 24th Senate District, which includes all or part of Lombard, Elmhurst, Darien, Hinsdale, Downers Grove, Glen Ellyn, Lisle, Clarendon Hills, Oak Brook, Oakbook Terrace, Western Springs, Westmont, Wheaton and Willowbrook.
“I’ll support Dillard whole-heartedly and I think he’s going to cruise to victory in November,” said Nybo. “I’m very proud of what I’ve been doing in Springfield and I’ll continue to do that throughout the remainder of my term as state representative.”
Dillard, who also served as chief of staff for former Gov. Jim Edgar, took DuPage County with 61 percent of the vote and Cook County with 75 percent. Today’s primary winner will advance to the general election to face Democrat Abdul Ghani of Oak Brook on November 6.
During the campaign, a spokesperson from Citizens for Chris Nybo called Dillard a “career politician” and criticized him for a lack of dedication to pension reform.
“I get results,” said Dillard in response to the criticism. “I will work with the powers that be to make sure we fix our public pension systems.”
SB 512, which would set up a three-tiered retirement system and was passed in the house late last year, still needs to go before the senate and Gov. Pat Quinn. The legislation has received mixed reviews; unions are against it, while large corporations support it. Dillard says he supports some of the concepts of the legislation, but needs more time to “look at every paragraph and comma.”
Illinois’ unfunded pension liabilities hit $82.9 billion at the end of the 2011 fiscal year. “We must have pension reform,” said Dillard.
Attending Dillard’s party was State Rep. Sandra Pihos (R-Glen Ellyn), who said she had never publicly endorsed a candidate before this year’s primary election.
Pihos attributed her support for Dillard to collaboration on legislation such as last year’s HB 0200, in which they were both listed as co-sponsors and was passed as a law to further education for student athletes and coaches on concussion prevention and awareness. Pihos also said Dillard had a “profound understanding of issues statewide.”
“I think that Representative Nybo certainly put up a strong fight, but Senator Dillard is obviously the better candidate to serve the people,” she said. “I think there is a lack of collaboration from Nybo, we’ve served together as partners in this district and there is a lot more to contribute from Dillard in terms of experiences.”
Pihos said Nybo’s inexperience made it hard to find a common ground with him.
More than 50 supporters and volunteers filled the private room at Gulliver’s Pizza to support Dillard, and at least one volunteer said he worked diligently throughout the week to support the senator’s campaign.
“We ran around for Dillard and made sure signs didn’t disappear, put up tons of more signs, called voters and reached out to friends and family to make sure people turned out to vote today,” said Michael Hassan, 48, a telecommunications sales manager who has lived in the 24th District since 1990. Hassan said he volunteered for Dillard’s campaign because he respects the senator, admires his level of integrity and thinks of him as an “approachable, normal guy that can have one-on-one conversations with constituents.”
“Dillard is included in a group of politicians in DuPage County that are truly likeable, and that is important to me,” said Hassan. “He’s out everywhere talking to voters, he comes to committee meetings, he shows up at train stops, you see him at restaurants, you see him at schools, and we see eye-to-eye on a lot of issues.”