SPRINGFIELD -- Members of the Illinois Republican State Central Committee voted Thursday to impose term limits on committee members.
Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove, one of 19 members of the central committee, advanced the term-limit plan. He said it passed with 55 percent of the committee's weighted vote at a meeting in Springfield.
"If the Republican Party wants to again become the majority party in Illinois, we have to be open and welcoming to new voters and new ideas," Oberweis said. "I want to let them know that this is not a closed society like it used to be under Mr. Kjellander and Cellini and so on, that we welcome new ideas."
Bob Kjellander of Springfield was the long-time Republican National Committeeman from Illinois. Bill Cellini of Leland Grove, near Springfield, was considered for years to be one of the state party's behind-the-scenes leaders.
Pat Brady, chairman of the state party, backed the term limit.
"One of the legitimate criticisms, I think, historically of the party has been that it's just a bunch of people that have been around for a long time," Brady said. "We wanted to make sure that we get new blood in."
Rodney Davis, the GOP's interim executive director, said the term limit will take effect in 2014 -- the next year members of the state central committee are up for selection. The party has one member from each congressional district, and each of those people appoints a deputy member.
The rule would allow a person to be a deputy member for eight years and a regular member for another eight.
Bernard Schoenburg can be reached at (217) 788-1540.