Jim Oberweis said he is ready to get to work. The newly elected state senator said Illinois has significant problems to solve, and he said it's time for answers.
Oberweis, a Republican from Sugar Grove, scored a strong victory Tuesday night, holding a lead of 40,757 to 29,272 over Democrat Corrine Pierog with 112 of 115 precincts counted in unofficial voting in the race for the 25th State Senate District.
Oberweis said he "absolutely" is ready to jump into the job. He said he has a meeting set up Friday to examine possibilities for turning the pension system around.
"I think it's clear that the state of Illinois has very, very severe fiscal problems," Oberweis said. "We've got to solve those problems and make the state more business-friendly and solve the pension mess."
Oberweis, 65, is chairman of Oberweis Dairy, and in his campaign, he said his experience of running a successful business is something that will be key in his new role. The victory was a significant breakthrough for Oberweis, who had run for office several times previously, with runs for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives and governor.
He said he was running this time because "a lot of people asked me to run."
"I had not intended to," he said.
Pierog said she was "very disappointed." She said Oberweis won because of marketing, saying, "he had all the money in the world."
"I'm very concerned that big business is going to dominate," she said, noting that people who have lost their jobs and their homes and are concerned about their retirement will be "completely underrepresented."
Pierog, 61, is a self-employed consultant and a St. Charles School District 303 board member. As far as making another run, she said, "I can't speak to that now."
"One small step at a time," she said. But she said she will continue her work to help those who need it, saying the concerns are "very, very important."
In Oberweis' campaign, he said there is a "very anti-business attitude from the politicians in Springfield." He said state officials were "driving business out of Illinois, driving people out of Illinois, particularly people with wealth. That has got to stop."
"I'm very thankful to the voters in the district," Oberweis said. "I appreciate them giving me an opportunity to turn the state around."