Republican David Friess began his first term representing the 116th Congressional District when he was sworn in Jan. 13 in Springfield.
“It is a great honor and privilege to have been sworn in,” Friess said. “This year’s ceremony was untraditional, but I look forward to getting the pandemic under control and going to session in the capital.”
A lawyer in Red Bud and member of that town’s city council, Friess unseated incumbent Democrat Nathan Reitz to represent a district that includes Monroe County.
This was the second effort from Friess to secure the position, as he ran against Jerry Costello II in 2018.
Friess said the lessons learned during his first campaign helped make this one successful.
“The most important lesson I learned from the first bid for state rep is to not take all the negative ads personally,” he said. “It is extremely difficult, especially for family, but you cannot allow the negative ads to get you down. The other important lesson is, as a candidate, you have to make as many face-to-face contacts as possible with your constituents.”
An Air Force veteran, Friess made ending corruption and passing ethics reform key components of his campaign.
He said he plans to begin attempting to tackle that issue this legislative session.
“I anticipate either co-sponsoring or supporting a bill that institutes true ethics reform,” Friess said. “Until ethics reforms are signed into law, Illinois will not be able to root out corruption in Springfield.”
A figure who often drew Friess’s ire during his campaign was former Illinois speaker of the House Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), who Friess specifically promised to stand up to, along with the rest of the “Chicago Machine.”
Madigan no longer holds that power, as he stepped down last week, ending his tenure as the longest-serving leader of any federal or state legislative body in U.S. history.
Emmanuel “Chris” Welch, another Chicago Democrat, replaced Madigan, becoming the first black person in that leadership position in state history.
Friess said that does not change his approach to representing his district.
“I will always represent the constituents of the 116th and southern Illinois values,” he pledged.
Another central promise of Friess’s campaign was lowering taxes and decreasing spending, which he acknowledged may be more challenging than it sounds.
“Lowering taxes and decreasing spending will be difficult since the Republicans are in the minority; however, I have participated in numerous orientation Zoom conference calls, and a Democrat on one of the calls conceded that state agencies could eliminate wasteful spending, trim their budgets and save the state money,” Friess explained. “I believe this is an area for potential bipartisanship given the state of our budget.”
On a similar note, Friess pointed to voters’ rejection of the proposed graduated income tax as a sign Illinois residents have made it clear they “are taxed enough.” He said he hoped lawmakers would see that and not raise taxes.
While not necessarily a campaign promise, Friess also made clear during election season that he opposed many measures imposed by Gov. JB Pritzker in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, in large part because of their effect on businesses.
Now that he is in office, Friess said passing legislation to help small businesses “that have been absolutely devastated by the governor’s lockdown” is a top priority.
“We, as state legislators, must do everything we can to assist our small businesses,” he said. “Small businesses are the lifeblood of small communities throughout our state. I have heard estimates from 30-40 percent of small businesses may close their doors and never reopen. We cannot allow this to happen.”