Plans approved for 105th District, including legislator for one day
Wed, 12/29/2010 - 8:00am | Tom Kacich
CHAMPAIGN Residents of the 105th District are going to need a scorecard and a calendar to know who their state representative is in the coming days.
Between now and Jan. 10 they will have three different representatives in the Illinois House.
Republican county chairmen in the district, which includes all or parts of Champaign, Ford, Iroquois, Livingston, Vermilion and McLean counties, have approved a plan that allows state Rep. Shane Cultra, R-Onarga, to move up to the Illinois Senate and replace Sen. Dan Rutherford, R-Chenoa, who next week becomes state treasurer.
Replacing Cultra in the House will be Champaign attorney Jason Barickman, who also is the Champaign County Republican Party chairman.
But for one day in between Cultra's leaving and Barickman's coming, the county chairmen have agreed to let Cultra's longtime legislative aide, Russell Geisler, serve an honorary term as state representative.
Earlier this month, some Champaign County Republicans said they disapproved of the appointment, even though Cultra said Geisler would receive no pay or pension benefit from the move. Among those criticizing the maneuver were Barickman, county party vice chair Gordy Hulten and Champaign precinct committeeman Donna Giertz.
"I had a long talk with Shane before the meeting," said Alan Nudo, a Champaign County Board member who represented the county GOP at the county chairmen's meeting last week. "I told him, representing Jason and our county party, that we weren't going to make any waves on this thing. He had a resignation (from Geisler) already submitted which was noted and documented when we made the appointment."
The resignation letter makes it clear that Geisler will serve just one day Jan. 9 and that Barickman will assume the office on Jan. 10. Cultra will be the state representative through Jan. 8.
All three of the Republicans could end up taking votes since the 96th General Assembly is scheduled to be in session from Jan. 3 to 7 and again from Jan. 9 through 11.
"(Geisler) could end up taking votes," Nudo acknowledged, "but Shane said to me that he'll be right there alongside him and he will make sure that the votes that are taken are with his approval."
At a meeting this month a number of Champaign County Republicans criticized Geisler's honorary appointment. Giertz said it was "inappropriate" and would "diminish the status of the Republican Party." Hulten added that it "trivializes the seat."
But Nudo said none of the party chairmen who met at a Fairbury restaurant last week voiced any criticism.