Mitchell to retire from General Assembly

State Rep. Bill Mitchell, a member of the Illinois House since 1999 and an assistant Republican leader in the chamber, said on Aug. 3 he will not run for re-election in 2018.

Mitchell said he had decided last year, during his last political campaign, that he would not run again.

“It’s been an honor to serve the people of central Illinois over the last 20 years,” he said at a news conference at the DeWitt County Building. “It’s time someone else takes the reins, and I’m sure they will do an excellent job for the people of central Illinois.”

He said that “four or five” people already have expressed interest in running in the heavily Republican district.

Among them is Joe Alexander of Clinton, who attended Mitchell’s announcement and works in the Trump administration in Washington, D.C. Alexander said he would decide whether to run by around Labor Day.

“We appreciate Rep. Mitchell’s service to the district and wish him well in his retirement,” said Alexander. “Advocates of bad public policy in Springfield have chosen higher taxes and spending to solve its budget problems. I’m interested in running for this seat because we need to put taxpayers, families and businesses first.”

Mitchell, 57, said he would play no role in the selection of his successor.

He is the seventh Republican state legislator — out of 73 holding seats in Springfield — to announce his retirement this year. He also is the third of 10 GOP House leaders to step down.

Among the other Republicans to quit the Legislature are state Reps. Chad Hays of Catlin and Patti Bellock of Hinsdale, and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont.

Only two of the Legislature’s 104 Democrats have said so far that they’re not running next year.

Mitchell, of Forsyth, represents the 101st House District, which includes all or parts of five counties: Macon, Champaign, DeWitt, Piatt and McLean.

He was elected in 1998, succeeding Rep. Duane Noland of Blue Mound. He had served on the Decatur City Council and had been the Macon County Republican chairman.

Last year Mitchell was elected to a 10th term, defeating Democrat Christine Law 75 percent to 25 percent.

Mitchell was one of 16 Republican legislators who last month joined with majority Democrats to pass an income tax increase, a vote that earned him severe criticism on social media and from the group Americans for Prosperity-Illinois.

But he defended the vote.

“We can’t go any longer without a state budget,” Mitchell told The News-Gazette shortly after the tax increase vote. “I keep repeating to people that this (budget) is $800 million less than the governor’s (proposed) budget. And it’s $3 billion less than we’re spending now.”

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