Democrat to run in 74th District

Marty Hobe/Gatehouse Media

To ensure the race isn’t lopsided to one party, local attorney Bill Butts has decided to run for state representative in the 74th District.

Butts will be running for the seat for a third time. He did so in 1992, losing in the primary by a razor thin margin, and again in 2002, at which time he dropped out of for family reasons.

This time around, Butts is running on the mantra that he should put his money where his mouth has been.

“The filing deadline is approaching and I contemplated this and I’ve been saying in the past how important it is to have competitive races and here we are only less than two and a half weeks from the filing deadline and there’s no candidate on the Democratic side,” Butts said. “So I decided to run at this point. I don’t plan on being a career politician. I’m 61-years-old, but there’s a lot of issues I want to talk about. To make sure that we have an airing of issues in a full race, not just one party that dominates the cycle, I think it’s imperative that there be competition.”   

Republicans Dan Swanson, Wayne Saline and Mike DeSutter previously announced their candidacies.

A top priority for Butts is redistricting, and drawing a map he said would more accurately represent the people.

“I know that I may find myself in the minority in my party on this issue but I think it’s important that we recognize that if it wasn’t Michael Madigan it would be a Republican leader like Pate Philip in the past,” he said.

On the topic of the current budget impasse, Butts said he thinks Gov. Bruce Rauner should back off from his “Turnaround Agenda,” and pass a budget first to fund important services and programs.

“Yes, there’s money issues but there’s just certain issues that just can’t be ignored,” Butts said. “We have to try to address these problems, but this idea of just freezing everything and not being able to come to some sort of an agreement on basic services, this is wrong and we’ve got to put this behind us.

For Rauner, the items of his agenda like tort reform, a property tax freeze and weakening or eliminating some of the labor union powers, are necessary steps to get the state back on track.
 However, Butts said the budget needs to be resolved first, then worry about long-term solutions. He especially believes collective bargaining will not change despite Rauner’s best efforts.

“Rauner wants to drill into the Democrats that he’s going to get rid of collective bargaining,” he said. “He’s going to go absolutely nowhere with that. So we need to work around that issue and we need to find some common ground on other things.”

At the same time, Butts said he won’t be tied down to partisan politics.

“I don’t consider myself to be locked into a party ideology where we have to do things this way or the highway,” Butts said. “We’ve got to be flexible to get ourselves out of this mess. We’ve got to find areas of common agreement that we can solve and then tackle the ones that are more back-burner, the more ideological ones.”

Butts is a lifelong Galesburg resident and a lawyer working out of his office downtown. He is also currently the village attorney for Victoria and has sat on the Knox County Board, Galesburg Sanitary District and was the vice chairman of the Knox County Democratic Party.