Clayborne opponent says service must come before self
Tanya Hildenbrand sees her run for the Illinois Senate as an extension of her 28-year U.S. military career.
“It’s another way to serve the country,” Hildenbrand told the Metro East Sun of her recent decision to compete against Sen. James Clayborne (D-Belleville) in the 57th District in 2018. “I consider politics to be another way to serve the country.”
Hildenbrand, who lives in Belleville, said she plans to stress that there has never been a greater need for service in Illinois.
“I admit taxes are so high that even I have thought of leaving the state,” she said. “In the end, I decided to try to do something about the situation, but I know a lot or people are still having those same thoughts.”
An Air Force reservist who works as an intelligence officer, the 47-year-old University of Iowa law school grad is accustomed to making tough choices.
“In the military, you have to make decisive decisions that people’s lives depend on,” Hildebrand said. “You need to make the best decision in a time-sensitive way. For over 28 years, I’ve been looking at building teams for the greater good, putting service before self.”
Hildenbrand moved to Illinois from Washington for the military in 2008, and said she knew right away that she needed to make a difference.
“There’s a lot of corruption in the system,” she said. “As citizens, we’re always being required to cut our budgets, but the state continues to go on lavishly spending in any way it wants. You have people receiving pension retirements double that of what the average person in Illinois makes in salary.”
Hildebrand also criticized the recently passed $36.1 billion state budget plan.
“It’s nothing but a spending plan,” she said. “It has no reforms that will help Illinois. We need to be identifying our priorities, which should be just taking care of the basic functions, and sticking firm to that.”
Hildebrand said she believes the discipline she has learned in the armed services will go a long way in serving her in a new capacity.
“Discipline provides you with the tenacity you need to go forward,” she said. "I know it will take more work for an unknown like me, but I’m willing to knock on more doors than anyone else. You can’t let the appearance of the impossible stop you from trying.”
Clayborne needs to go at least in part because of what is happening in Illinois.
“After 22 years in office, you have to wonder what he even wants to try to accomplish,” Hildebrand said. “You have to think the same person that oversaw the economic decline will not be the one to get us out.”