MONTICELLO — Though he loves his home in Monticello, Piatt County Chairman Randy Keith said he is ready to head to Springfield to represent his community and other parts of Central Illinois.
Keith, surrounded by dozens of friends and family outside the Piatt County Courthouse in Monticello on Tuesday afternoon, became the latest Republican seeking the soon-to-be vacant seat in the 101st House District.
He is the third candidate to announce for the seat since Bill Mitchell, who has served in the House since 1999, announced Aug. 3 that he would not seek re-election in 2018.
Keith, 65, focused much of his announcement on Tuesday toward the goal of bringing “common sense practices” to fixing the state’s problems. He noted several times that he would push for term-limits on lawmakers, adding he would not serve longer than two, two-year, terms in Springfield.
“I love Piatt County and this is where I want to get back to,” he said.
While he touched on a common Republican position that the state should make more budget cuts before raising taxes, Keith said three major issues he would focus on if elected were term limits, redistricting reform and a new capital bill to fix the infrastructure in rural parts of central Illinois.
“These things won’t be easy, and I know I’m only one man,” he said. “But I will never rest until we make this state better.”
Keith was elected to the Piatt County Board in 2010 and has served as its chairman since 2014. Before that, he served for 40 years at the Kraft plant in Champaign, retiring in 2011 after overseeing large parts of its multi-million dollar cheese production department. He also volunteered for the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and served for two years as military police officer in Germany.
Keith is among a handful of Republicans who have announced their interest in running for a district, which covers parts of Champaign, DeWitt, Macon, McLean and Piatt counties and is considered heavily favorable for Republicans.
Both Cerro Gordo School Board President Todd Henricks and former Decatur City Councilman Dan Caulkins have announced their bid for the seat, while Clinton resident Joe Alexander and DeWitt County Republican Party Chairman Dustin Peterson have previously expressed interest in running.
Keith points to his private business experience as well as his role leading the board that oversees operations of the county and its nearly 17,000 residents as what helps him stand out among the candidates.
“I’ve been doing this government stuff,” Keith said, noting his board has worked together to balance the county’s budget and guide it through difficult financial times.