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Q&A: New State Senator Win Stoller Discusses Preparation, Priorities In Office

Win Stoller
Win Stoller
State Sen. Win Stoller, R-Peoria, says he wants to focus on Illinois' ongoing fiscal crisis in office.

There's a new state senator serving Illinois' 37th District.

Win Stoller ran unopposed in last year's Republican primary and defeated an independent write-in candidate in the general election. Stoller took over from Chuck Weaver.

Stoller has worked for about 23 years at Widmer Interiors, which sells office furniture in Peoria.

WCBU spoke recently with Stoller about how he thinks his experience will help him in office.

You've served as the CEO of Widmer Interiors, and you also have a background in accounting and financial auditing. How do you think that experience is going to help you in your new role?

I feel like a financial background where, I've done auditing work, I have an accounting degree, also got an MBA from University of Illinois. I feel like that's exactly what we need in Springfield right now, because we are in the middle of a financial crisis. And to have that kind of skills and background is a good thing. And another thing I think we need more of is we don't need career politicians, and that's not what I am. I've been a business person employing people here throughout Illinois. I enjoy this job, and I'm all in, but it's not my identity. And so that's just something that I think we need more of in Springfield.

How do you think your experience will help as far as Illinois' budget is concerned?

We need to structurally rework how our finances are in Illinois. The people of Illinois voted overwhelmingly last fall, we do not want another tax increase. Pritzker was trying to push his so-called fair tax, but the people said no, enough is enough. We already have the highest overall tax burden of all 50 states.

We don't have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. This is not just because of COVID. This is just not because we had a big blip here with the economy and the shutdown impacts and so forth. This is a structural problem. We need to rework the way our budget functions in Illinois.

How had you been preparing for the role leading up to being sworn in on Jan. 5?

This district is pretty large. Its parts are all of 10 counties, which span from Mercer County on the Mississippi River all the way over to LaSalle and Marshall County, Woodford County and of course, part of Peoria County and others. So the biggest thing I've done is to get around that district and meet with mayors, and county officials, and sheriffs, and education officials, and business owners and citizens, and doing town halls and things so that I can hear what their concerns are. That's just been great to meet people and really understand what is the pulse of people's thoughts and concerns about Illinois.

In terms of your policy priorities, how would you say you differ from your predecessor, Chuck Weaver?

Chuck, I thought, was a phenomenal senator. He has been a friend and mentor of mine. There are going to be certainly a few things that we would differ on, of course, but in many ways I want to follow in his footsteps. One of the things that that Senator Weaver did was work across the aisle in passing 34 bills, and that's while being in the minority party. He was working together with Democrats to pass good, good bills, and good legislation that were so good that they all agreed on. And so that is the approach that I want to take as well. We know we're gonna be differing on many, many, many votes, but there is a sense of camaraderie that I can detect, and I hope that we're going to be able to take advantage of.

The GOP, as you know, has a super-minority in the Senate right now. How will you overcome that to legislate at the margins and work on issues where you can be at the table?

You have to work well with people, and even though we disagree on many policy ideas, there are areas where we do agree and there's actually many votes that are very bipartisan. They don't get a lot of attention in the press, because usually they're not the big reform legislation, controversial things. But that said, people are people, and if you treat people with dignity and respect, and you come at them in a good respectful way, that's the way you get things accomplished.

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Christine Hatfield, a graduate student in University of Illinois Springfield's Public Affairs Reporting program, is WGLT and WCBU's PAR intern for the first half of 2021.