Education must be the No. 1 priority, state Senate District 59 Republican challenger says
The outflow of citizens and businesses fleeing Illinois' budget and economic crisis must be staunched if the state can ever hope to recover, the Republican challenger for the Senate District 59 seat said during the governor's appearance in Vienna earlier this summer.
"We have to stop the bleeding of citizens leaving the state of Illinois," Senate District 59 candidate Dale Fowler said. "Businesses are leaving the state of Illinois. As a business development officer in a major bank, I deal with businesses all over Southern Illinois, businesses that are telling me, weekly, that they are considering having to leave the state of Illinois."
When families leave the state, they take more than themselves, Fowler said. "When families leave, what happens?" he asked elected officials, members of the press and community members gathered to hear their remarks. "They take their purse with them, they take their billfold with them, they take their kids with them, which reduces even more our school funding."
Fowler made his comments during Gov. Bruce Rauner's stop at Vienna Correction Center June 1.
The governor's appearance in Vienna was one of several stops by the governor in multiple Southern Illinois communities. At the Vienna Correction Center, Gov. Rauner and other officials addressed a crowd of local news reporters and members of the community.
Fowler recalled the beginning of his career in the state's Department of Corrections at the Vienna Correction Center. "I know how imperative it is to fund our correctional facilities," he said.
Fowler, who has been mayor of Harrisburg since 2014, a city of less than 10,000 people, has been impacted by the state's cash flow problems. "Harrisburg medical center, this fall, is starting an $18 million renovation and construction," Fowler said. "Hundreds more construction jobs are coming to the city of Harrisburg. Talking with our CEO this morning from the Harrisburg Medical Center, they're concerned that the cash flow may actually hold off this construction."
Despite those worries, Fowler said everyone he talks to agree on the same high priority. "Talking to people throughout Southern Illinois and in my district and in Harrisburg, we all agree that education is the top priority," he said. "Education must be the top priority. A city the size of Harrisburg losing $1 million a year in the last four years and losing many staff is uncalled for."
Fowler is the Republican candidate running for the Senate District 59 seat against the incumbent Democrat Gary Forby.
Fowler grew up on his family's farm outside of Eldorado, graduated from Eldorado High School in 1975 and later went into business development at his family-owned small business, Eldorado Locker Company. He later was an office of operations supervisor for then Secretary of State Jim Edgar before spending 22 years working for the state's Department of Corrections at both the Vienna Correctional Center and Shawnee Correctional Center. In 2012 he retired from the Department of Juvenile Justice where he's been chief engineer for the Illinois Youth Center in Harrisburg.
In 2014, Fowler was appointed Mayor of Harrisburg and was uncontested for his reelection bid to that office this past April. Fowler also is Business Development Officer for Peoples National Bank. He is a past president of the United Way of Southern Illinois. He formed Clothes for SI Kids in 2002 and co-founded Fowler-Bonan Foundation, both of which last year helped hundreds of underprivileged children in 17 Southern Illinois counties receive new clothes for school.