Meet the two Illinois Republicans on the ballot for the 37th District state Senate seat

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Brett Nicklaus, left, and Win Stoller.
Brett Nicklaus, left, and Win Stoller.

PEORIA — Both Brett Nicklaus and Win Stoller point to their conservative bona fides as reasons why voters should send them to the Statehouse to fill the state Senate seat for the newly redrawn 37th District.

The winner of the June 28 Republican primary, at the moment, will be unopposed during the November election because no Democrat is running for office.

Stoller is the current state senator, winning election unopposed in 2020. The Germantown Hills resident was sworn in days ahead of schedule when the incumbent, Chuck Weaver, resigned early after just over five years in office.

The district previously stretched north from Peoria to near Interstate 88 and northwest to outside the Quad Cities. Today, it stretches north, taking in only a finger of North Peoria, Germantown Hills and part of Chillicothe before heading northward into DeKalb in the western Chicago suburbs and northwest to the Mississippi River northeast of the Quad Cities.

Nicklaus has not held political office but has served as a precinct chairman in Lee County and has been active in Republican politics, pushing for changes in the state's response to COVID-19 and to how it regulates weapons.

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Stoller points to his first term in office as proof positive he gets things done.

"I have a record of accomplishment as a state senator," he said. "I’ve had the rarest success — cutting taxes for 400,000 small business employers. My opponent has offered nothing more than a few platitudes."

But Nicklaus points to his work with the Sauk Valley Freedom Fighters, a group he helped organize that pushed back on COVID-19 restrictions, as evidence he can get things done as well.

"We have been fighting for religious exemption when they thought they were being wronged," he said. "For the past two and a half years, we have been helping to serve the people of the Sauk Valley area by defending their individual rights granted under the Constitution."

Stoller says his background — a lifelong resident of Germantown Hills — gives him the experience and the knowledge to handle things at the state level.

"My most important legislative accomplishment is that I drew upon my business and financial background to introduce legislation that redefines Illinois tax code to allow small businesses to once again fully deduct their state and local income taxes on their federal tax returns," he said.

More: Sample June 28 Republican primary ballot for Peoria County

Nicklaus, a resident of Dixon, said he had planned to run for the Lee County Board but saw a chance to help the region and chose to run. He's a certified financial planner with clients all over the district.

"When the opportunity presented itself and I looked at all the people I already served, it seemed like a natural fit," he said, adding that his word is what has made him successful. "When I say something, people know locally that I stand 1000% behind my word. I don't care who gets the credit. I just want the job to be done. I'm able to work with many people from different walks of life to accomplish goals."

On the issues, Nicklaus touts his "unapologetically" pro-life stance as well as his efforts to eliminate the state's Firearm Owners Identification card as proof he's fully behind conservative issues.

If elected, Nicklaus says, he will press for the elimination of taxpayer-funded abortions as a first step to eliminating abortions in the state. He also wants to take the state out of the educational process as much as possible.

"I want to bring local decisions back to the local municipalities, so our schools are run by the local boards," he said, noting that "mandates" handed down by legislators and the Illinois State Board of Education affect how the local boards do their jobs.

"Where the state gets involved, we have many levels of administration in our schools. Many mandates from the state, and those have to be funded by the property taxes," Nicklaus said. "While (property taxes) are controlled and set by locals, the state still has a large impact."

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Stoller wants to build off his "terrific start" and hopes to continue working with area leaders.

"This record of accomplishment in my first 16 months has earned me endorsements from 155 elected officials and leaders from throughout the 37th District," he said, adding that he's been backed by conservative groups like Illinois State Rifle Association and all "major pro-life" groups.

Stoller also wants to push for rules that require a "minimum one or two week mandatory deadline for all final legislative text to be introduced publicly before it can be voted upon."

"In early April, Democrat leaders first presented the 3,467-page state budget after midnight and demanded a vote on it 90 minutes later. It spent $13.4 million per page. That is shady government at its worst," Stoller said.

This article originally appeared on Journal Star: Win Stoller and Brett Nicklaus vying for 37th Illinois Senate seat