'We have to take this state back,' Hildenbrand says after GOP victory
After her decisive victory in the GOP primary in the 57th Senate District, Tanya Hildenbrand is looking ahead to November's election and her run to claim the seat being vacated by Sen. James Clayborne (D-Belleville).
"We have to take this state back but it starts at the city, local and district level," Hildenbrand told the Metro East Sun. "People are frustrated and I'm going to establish a grass-roots organization to energize voters and get people involved. My campaign is about the citizens of this district and I want to empower people to fill our city and school board meetings."
Hildenbrand, who resides in Belleville, said she knows what has to happen to put state government to work for Illinoisans. "For Illinois government to work for us, we need to be engaged and hold our representatives responsible," she said. "It starts with voting and being active within our communities."
Hildenbrand won Tuesday's GOP primary by taking approximately 65 percent of the vote and soundly defeating Bob Romanik, according to Illinois Election Data.
With the GOP primary now behind her, Hildenbrand is set to face Cahokia resident Christopher Belt, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Hildenbrand offered no harsh words for her opponent on the left. "Voters are interested in ideas and not personal attacks," she said. "I look forward to a battle of ideas and allowing voters to decide the course of direction for this great district and state."
Hildenband, a 28-year career U.S. military veteran, told the Metro East Sun in a previous interview that she sees politics as "another way to serve the country."
The Air Force reservist and University of Iowa law school graduate who works as a senior intelligence analyst also admitted to some frustration living in Illinois. "I admit taxes are so high that even I have thought of leaving the state," Hildenband said during that earlier interview. "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."
During her more recent interview, Hildenbrand said she has found her first-time run for office to be humbling. "I am I am extremely humbled by the outreach of support and encouragement," she said.
"Everyone has been so kind and I feel a sense of responsibility to continue the stand I've taken to help people that are suffering in our district," she said. "It feels great for a political nobody to win. I hope this win inspires more people to step up in our communities to run for office and help turn Illinois around."
She also had a list of folks to thank. "I want to thank my family for their love and support," Hildenbrand said.
"I did not anticipate the huge toll is would take to run for office." she said. "Many members of my family made special trips to help with the events and activities. I'd like to personally thank Brandi Jewell, Mathew Connell, Katherine Ruocco, Jason Madlock and Mary Carroll. I met all these indiividuals from this endeavor and they have become very dear to me. Running for office is about friendships and building trust with people and constituents. These five people touched my heart and elections come and go but it's the friendship that you make along the way that will last a lifetime."
Hildenbrand had a special thank you for voters in the 57th Senate District. "Thank you for coming out to vote," she said. "Your vote counts. I am a political nobody who decided to take a stand against political corruption, wasteful spending and high taxes. After 22 years with the same person and party holding this state Senate seat, we need a change. I started this race because I did not feel our district or southern Illinois had an advocate fighting for us in Springfield. I will give a voice to District 57 and I will ensure Springfield hears our concerns."
Hildenbrand said she is the public servant who can do that. "A true public servant can only represent the concerns of citizens if they are truly engaged and I look forward to meeting many more people from District 57," she said.