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GOP slate's Treasurer candidate aims to reduce number of executive offices

 State Rep. Tom Demmer, a Republican from Dixon, is running for State Treasurer. He's director of strategic planning at KSB Hospital and a former member of the Lee County Board.
State Rep. Tom Demmer, a Republican from Dixon, is running for State Treasurer. He's director of strategic planning at KSB Hospital and a former member of the Lee County Board.

One of the candidates on a statewide slate of business-minded Republicans engaged with the media for a rare interview Wednesday, endorsing a familiar plan to combine two executive offices.

WCBU interviewed state Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, who is running for State Treasurer. Several of the other candidates on the slate have not yet fielded questions from the media. Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, the gubernatorial candidate, hasn’t taken questions since he announced his run by video nine days ago.

The measure introduced by Demmer — House Joint Resolution/Constitutional Amendment 36 — moves to combine the offices of State Comptroller and State Treasurer. Potential benefits of combining these two offices include saving taxpayer dollars on payroll and a more streamlined statewide financial system, says Demmer.

Demmer previously introduced this legislation in 2021, 2020, and supported a similar bill in 2019. It has not passed. This time, however, it’s personal; Demmer announced his campaign for state treasurer earlier this month.

Demmer says the reintroduction of this bill is not directly related to his campaign.

“This is an initiative I've been working on for several years, long before I became a candidate, but it's still something I believe in. And it's something I believe in advancing as in my role as state representative, but as a candidate for treasurer, I'm trying to show folks that I'm leading by example,” said Demmer.

Parallels have been drawn between Demmer’s proposal and a proposal by Michael Frerichs when he entered the office in 2015 to combine the two offices. (Frerichs announced earlier this month that he's running for re-election.) One difference is that Demmer’s proposed constitutional amendment, if it were to be adopted, would not go into effect until after 2026, after the next term of both treasurer and comptroller.

“I've always pushed for transparency, for accountability, and collaboration. There'll be some administrative work to combine those two together, but I think it'd be an opportunity for collaboration going forward to have respected the will of the people of Illinois if the amendment passes,” Demmer said.

Demmer is one of six Republican candidates running on a slate expected to get big financial backing from conservative mega-donor Ken Griffin. Besides Demmer, the slate includes Irvin and state Rep. Avery Bourne for governor and lieutenant governor, John Milhiser for secretary of state, Shannon Teresi for comptroller, and Steve Kim for attorney general.

Many of the other GOP candidates will face challengers in June’s primary election; in the race for treasurer, so far only Demmer and Frerichs have announced a run. Demmer says he feels confident in not only his campaign, but in those of the entire slate.

“I look forward to seeing a really coordinated approach to give an alternative to the current people in power — a change to the status quo. We’re a team of folks who are going to better reflect the desires of the people of Illinois,” Demmer said.

Copyright 2022 WCBU. To see more, visit WCBU.

Maggie Strahan is a Public Affairs Reporting program intern for WGLT and WCBU.