Students grill state rep. during Unplugged Politics

September 20, 2018

GENOA – Jeff Keicher place the domino on the table. Hannah Temes knocked it over.

Keicher, the Republican candidate for the 70th District recently vacated by state Rep. Bob Pritchard, spent the bulk of his time during Unplugged Politics at Genoa City Hall on Thursday preaching that students should think now about what role they can play in their community, and their government.

It took some time for a student to pipe in with a question, but once Keicher brought up the drawing of district lines, Temes, a 17-year-old senior at Genoa-Kingston High School, sprang into action.

“Why are they allowed to draw district lines? Shouldn’t people in those districts be allowed to speak for themselves, rather than the other way around?” she asked. “And shouldn’t the House Speaker speak for us?”

“Want to come to Springfield?” Keicher asked her, drawing laughs and cheers from around the packed room.

“They drew those district so that you had very heavily Democrat districts, and very Republican districts, and they got to choose who they want to vote in their elections,” Keicher added.

In addition to Genoa-Kingston High, Hiawatha High and Cornerstone Christian Academy students attended the event.

A flurry of questions followed Temes’, including on how social media, and President Donald Trump’s tweets, irresponsibly fuel misguided fire, as well as why Keicher is a Republican rather than a Democrat. The role of fine arts in schools, personalized learning, marijuana legislation, and how to to generally return Illinois to prominence were among other topics broached. Last of all, property taxes came up.

“The only way we can combat that is with reform and economic prosperity,” Keicher said.

Keicher was appointed to his seat after Pritchard announced he’d resign to take a seat on the Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees. Keicher will be opposed by Democrat Paul Stoddard, a member of the DeKalb County Board, in the November election.

Unplugged Politics is put on every year by the Genoa Area Chamber of Commerce. Pritchard, along with State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, spoke at last year’s event, and Pritchard arrived Thursday afternoon shortly after the Board of Trustees named Lisa Freeman its 13th president. At the top of the event, Keicher apologized that Syverson, the other announced legislator, was unable to make it this year.

To illustrate frustrations with the state, not just among adults, but also students, Keicher asked how many students plan to go to school in Illinois. A few hands popped up. When he asked who’s going out of state, the number of hands that went up were more than double. Temes’ right hand was among them.

“I’m seeking to change that, as an NIU alum,” Keicher said. “There are so many amazing things we do right here in DeKalb County.”

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