EFFINGHAM — With the November election over, local and state Republicans looked to the future of the party, Illinois and the April 9 consolidated elections at the Lincoln Dinner Saturday.
The 40th annual event, held at the Effingham VFW, gave candidates and officials an opportunity to discuss the state budget, as well as the social issues they viewed as important to the people of Effingham County.
State Sen. Bill Brady spoke early in the event, praising the Republican base of the county.
“I wish this county were the heart of the state and, to some degree, you are,” he said. “The heart and fiscal responsibility in this area is what we need.”
U.S. Congressman John Shimkus focused on the party’s budget battles with the president over topics, such as the federal deficit and the successes Republicans at all levels have made.
“Now that you’ve put us in the job, we have to fight the fight,” he said. “And you be the judge, but I think we’re starting to fight the fight with the state and the president. This is the first time we’ve cut dollars from the federal budget, $85 million. We’ve got a long way to go, but it’s a start.”
Brady addressed the budget on a local level, focusing on Gov. Pat Quinn’s recent budget address, which demands cuts from education.
“The governor has just laid down a devastating financial address that places his fiscal irresponsibility at the feet of our school children,” he said.
The night’s keynote speaker was Erika Harold, Miss America 2003, who served as a delegate and a featured speaker at the 2004 Republican National Convention. She spoke mainly on the need to work for conservative improvements on the state and national level.
“Everyone knows the state is in dire shape,” Harold said. “But look at our great leaders, Lincoln and Reagan, and the vision of what could be. That’s what inspires.”
Harold said Republicans need to inspire others by leading with what drew them to the party and serving the cause in any way they can.
“Although we may not all have served in the military, we must serve,” she said. “Whether in the armed forces or in the community or in the church, we must serve because others have served us.”