Kegarise joins Bernas in 56th District GOP primary
In her second consecutive run for the 56th District state House seat, Schaumburg Township District Library Trustee Jillian Rose Bernas will face a Republican primary opponent in longtime Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 board member Charlotte "Char" Kegarise.
Both women say they share the goal of unseating four-term Democratic incumbent and fellow Schaumburg resident Michelle Mussman. They want to return the office to Republican control for the first time since former Rep. Paul Froehlich changed parties a decade ago.
Kegarise said she started a run for the seat in 2008 but realized how hard it was to do without the full backing of her party when an objection to her candidacy petition bounced her from the ballot in favor of fellow Republican Anita Forte-Scott.
Though that was incumbent Froehlich's first and last campaign as a Democrat, he defeated Forte-Scott to win re-election.
But late this fall, Kegarise said, the state's House Republican Organization reached out to her with an offer of its support if she would run.
Through both her 24 years on the District 54 school board and a history of various other community volunteerism, Kegarise said the organization recognized her as someone with a strong base of support in the legislative district.
"I'm a strong consensus builder," Kegarise said. "What I took away from the conversation was that the House Republican Organization saw me as someone who could counter Michelle Mussman's strong community contacts."
One of the concerns she wanted to address before she made her decision, however, was that her running would not cause contention that would pull the local Schaumburg Township Republican Organization apart.
"I didn't want that," she said. "We worked hard to get where we are in Schaumburg."
Her hope and current expectation is that the Schaumburg Republican organization itself will remain neutral in the race even though the House Republican Organization is supporting her. Though she has been on the executive board of the organization, she's stepped back from those responsibilities to allow the organization more decision-making freedom during the campaign.
"I don't really see it as a race against (Bernas) but to get Michelle Mussman out of office," Kegarise said.
Bernas said she made the announcement of her second bid in September and has not wavered in her desire to bring independent leadership to the state House, whose long-running Democratic control she argues has harmed Illinois.
"It makes sense others would run," Bernas said. "It's a very winnable district."
She said she's running because Schaumburg is her home and she wants the best for the community where she will begin her married life next month.
Among her goals is the repeal of the state income tax increase Democrats championed, Bernas said.
The 56th District includes Schaumburg and parts of Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Bartlett, Hanover Park, Palatine, Rolling Meadows and Roselle.