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'Timing is right': Barickman leaving Illinois Senate in January

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State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington.

Less than a month after winning an uncontested new term in office, State Sen. Jason Barickman said Monday he'll resign instead of taking office again next year. The Bloomington Republican said it was not an abrupt decision.

"Your kids develop so quickly. One year is quite different than another. I have really struggled with this for the better part of a couple of years, thinking when the timing is right," said Barickman.

He said his other work obligations have increased. He is a practicing attorney and a partner in a real estate development and management firm.

"Among the priorities of my life, what bubbles to the top repeatedly is that I want to be a dad and a normal one that doesn't have to skip out on things I have had to skip out on. I have missed far too many events and meals," said Barickman.

Barickman was one of the architects of a revised state school funding formula. He said he's proud of the five years he spent on that issue that resulted in bipartisan compromise.

“That was hugely important. I would say I certainly enjoyed that process. We came together, Republicans and Democrats. We totally rewrote the manner in which the educational system is funded and works. That one for me, you know, certainly stands out as one of the most significant endeavors. No one got exactly what they wanted. But the result was something that very significantly moved Illinois and our educational system forward,” said Barickman.

That measure passed during a time of divided government. Since then, Democrats have won back the governorship and enlarged a legislative supermajority, relegating centrist Republicans like Barickman to the sidelines of most big legislative endeavors.

“Republicans have plenty of work to do. And I think it's important work. I think it's doable work. I think that Republicans and candidates can prove themselves to be competitive if they focus on problem solving and addressing the issues that the people of our state have,” said Barickman.

“I think the public deserves to have public officials who don't get capsulated by ideology. And this notion that it's my way or the highway, I hope that as people consider their own public life, whether they're in an office today, or they aspire to it someday, I hope that others would take that same approach.”

Barickman said he is proud of his independence.

“I remember, taking some very controversial votes. Very early in my legislative career, a very prominent Republican talked to me about my vote on marriage equality (in favor of it). That person told me, ‘I don't agree with your position, but I agree with your willingness to take it. And as a result of your choice, I will support you even more fervently because we need more independent voices.’ And I think that really was impactful on my career. I think it it really gave me a boost of confidence that I needed. And it allowed me on a whole host of issues to stand up for what I thought was right,” said Barickman.

Thirteen Republican party county chairs in the 53rd Senate District will choose a successor for two years until the next election. Livingston, Tazewell, and McLean counties have significant chunks of that total. It will be a weighted vote based on the number of Republican votes cast in the district in the last election. The district stretches from the Peoria area through Bloomington-Normal and east to the Indiana border.

Barickman, who is in his 12th year in Springfield, said he would not close the door on coming back to politics after his children are grown, but is not looking that far ahead.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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