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Oberweis stresses need for austerity in Springfield

State Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove)

State Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove)

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Updated: March 11, 2013 6:48AM

NORTH AURORA — State Sen. James Oberweis’ new district office bustled with people Friday during the freshman legislator’s first open house.

Friends, supporters and curious constituents mingled and chatted while the man of the hour perched on the edge of his receptionist’s desk, a big grin on his face.

Visitors also sported big grins as they ate their fill of — what else — ice cream treats from Oberweis Dairy, the family business for which Oberweis was famous long before he entered politics.

“I came for the ice cream, of course,” joked longtime supporter Bob Schmidt of Elburn. “Actually, I consider Jim a friend. I agree with him on most issues, and I hope to convince him to change his mind on the issues on which I don’t agree with him. But the struggle within the Republican Party is between the ‘pay-to-play’ people who are just out to grab as much taxpayer money as they can, and the people who actually care about the taxpayers. Jim .... is on our side.”

Former 25th District resident Evelyn Reid came from Chicago to meet the man whose name she heard often growing up in St. Charles and Aurora.

“I think he’s a good person,” she said after conversing with Oberweis. “People who work for his business talk about how fair he is, which tells you something because you don’t often hear people say that about their employers. I hope he will be able to use his business expertise and financial knowledge in the Senate, because they’re very much needed.”

While Oberweis stressed that he has received a warm welcome in Springfield by both Republicans and Democrats, he’s already taking aim at longstanding practices that he describes as wasteful.

“I was very surprised at the large staffs available to state legislators,” he commented. “I don’t need that many people to run my office, and I don’t think anyone else does, either. I have my own secretary, and she’s very good at her job, but I don’t need a private secretary. My secretary could handle the workload from two or three senators. If legislators just hired the staff they needed instead of using their entire staffing budgets, we could probably run the state government with 25 to 30 percent fewer taxpayer dollars.”

He’s also bracing for a long, hard struggle to pare down the state budget.

“We have some very, very large problems to deal with,” he asserted. “Unfunded pensions is where it all starts. Senate Bill 1, which was just filed by (Senate President) John Cullerton, is a positive step. I believe President Cullerton is open to some modifications.”

, and with those modifications I think I can support that bill. I’m hoping we can get bipartisan support on this issue.”

“I think Jim will make a difference here and in Springfield,” declared Elburn resident Dennis Ryan, who chairs the West Kane County Republicans. “His biggest strengths are persistence and financial experience. The hardest part of his job will be putting together any kind of coalition to oppose (Illinois House Speaker) Michael Madigan. But at least we’ve got some representation in Springfield now.”

North Aurora Village President Dale Berman just came to celebrate a hometown boy who made good.

“Jim’s really a North Aurora boy, even though he lives in Sugar Grove now,” Berman stated. “He grew up here, the family dairy is here, and he’s always been active in the community. He was one of our Jaycees in the ‘70s. We’re proud to have him and his district office in North Aurora.”

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