By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
PITTSFIELD, Ill. -- Pike County Board Chairman Andy Borrowman is adding his name to the list of people seeking to replace Rep. Jim Watson.
Watson, R-Jacksonville, resigned effective Dec. 3 to become executive director of the Illinois Petroleum Council. Republican county chairmen from Watson's district will select his successor.
Borrowman planned to file the required paperwork Monday to finish Watson's unexpired term in the 97th District starting Dec. 4 and also to serve the two-year term for the new 100th District.
Seeking the seat would be an opportunity to "do something at the statewide level," said Borrowman, who won a second four-year term on the board this month.
Borrowman would bring an understanding of county-based issues to the legislature and three decades of experience working for the state before he retired earlier this year.
"I'm 30 years with IDOT, and as far as I'm concerned, that's a bonus," Borrowman said. "In my situation, I've got nothing to lose. I'm retired, so that's not a situation where I'd be losing a job. I've probably got the best scenario of anybody. It's just whether or not it works for the county chairmen."
Applications and required paperwork for the seat must be filed by 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Pike County Republican Chairman Robert Browning said county chairmen from the 97th/100th District will meet Saturday to review applications.
"We'll pick out the ones we want to interview, have an interview and have a weighted vote at the end if we don't agree," Browning said. "We've got a date we're shooting for, Dec. 15, when we're going to have it done. We'd like to get it done just as soon as possible so they can get to work. It's going to be a tough session."
Morgan County's vote carries the greatest weight in the district, followed by Pike and Jersey.
"I agreed to go through the process, not personally feeling like I would necessarily be the best candidate, but I want to make sure the process is done and that they have a few decent candidates," Borrowman said. "One young man, an alderman from Jacksonville, probably will have Morgan County's vote, but I think you need to have several candidates for the process to work right, too."
Browning said he backs Borrowman for the job, which has drawn interest from more than 25 people.
"I've really got a lot of admiration for Andy. He's County Board chairman, been elected twice and is always in the top every time. He's got a good track record," Browning said. "Some others haven't ran for anything, which doesn't make them not eligible, but at least when you've got something of a track record, people know where you stand. It's a little bit easier to support somebody like him, but we've got to choose from other counties, too, be open-minded and pick somebody who can be re-elected."
Naming Watson's successor now carries a political advantage, giving the new legislator some seniority over newly elected legislators who take office in January.
Browning said some potential candidates for the seat already have backed out.
"You get real excited about it, then you realize how much work it is," he said. "You've got to campaign nonstop almost."
Watson held the seat since December 2001 as a replacement for Tom Ryder. He recently won the 100th District seat, running unopposed.
The Vacancy Committee working to fill the seat "would like to thank Rep. Watson for his years of service to the district and to wish him well in his new position," according to a news release. "We are looking forward to working together to find the best possible replacement to fill the vacancy, a new representative who will serve the voters well in the district."
Vacancy Committee Chairman Steve Hardin says anyone interested in the seat may get an application from any of the nine county chairman of the 100th District or download a copy at macoupincorepublicans.com.
A list of candidate requirements and instructions on how and where to send all the necessary paperwork also will be posted on the website.
All applications and required paperwork must be received by the Vacancy Committee no later than 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28.
Eligible candidates to fill the state representative vacancy in the 97th/100th District must be:
º At least 21 years old
º A resident of the district for at least the past two previous years.
º A member of the Republican party.
Completed applications require a resume, three references, voting record for the past 10 years and a statement on the issues.