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Murphysboro mayor puts hat in ring for House 115

  • Will Stephens

    Will Stephens

 
By Jessica Wettig
Contributing Writer
updated: 11/21/2019 7:12 PM

Murphysboro Mayor Will Stephens is joining an already crowded field in running for the Republican nomination for the 115th House seat.

Stephens will vie for the 115th House seat currently held by Terri Bryant, also of Murphysboro. Bryant is running for the 58th state Senate seat being vacated by a retiring Paul Schimpf.

Stephens said last month he would not run, but said on Facebook he changed his mind after the recent passing of a close mentor.

Stephens is the fifth Republican to announce for the 115th GOP nomination. John Howard, Paul Jacobs, Zachary Meyer and Cliff Lindemann also say they are running in the March 2020 primary.

The winner of the GOP primary will face a Democratic candidate for the seat in the November 2020 election. So far, no Democrat has announced.

However, it will be unclear until the filing period who is in the race for real, and who will drop out along the way. Filing begins next Monday, Nov. 25 and ends at the close of business on Monday, Dec. 2.

Bryant was first elected to the seat in 2014. It is considered a heavily Republican district, which takes in Du Quoin and Murphysboro and parts of Carbondale.

Stephens has been mayor for six years and is in the middle of his second term. Should he lose his bid for the State House, he will still be mayor.

Stephens has worked for WXAN radio for the last 15 years. The radio station was privately owned by Harold Lawder, who died Oct. 14 at age 91.

"When my boss Harold Lawder passed away on October the 14th my life, both personally and professionally changed greatly," he wrote on Facebook. "I can promise that I will continue to make leading Murphysboro my number one priority over the next year.

"I love Southern Illinois, and hope the voters give me a chance to replicate the success we've seen in Murphysboro throughout the 115th district. Most importantly, your prayers are appreciated."

Stephens has said he is pro-life and pro-Second Amendment, and has been actively pursuing economic development for the region -- including being involved in the quest for the Southwest Illinois Connector, the project to build a four-lane highway between Murphy and the Metro East area.