Former local Republican official Martha Shugart has switched parties and is going to run as a Democratic candidate for state representative in the 75th District.
“I feel like I am back home, with my family,” said Shugart from the Grundy County Courthouse steps Thursday evening where she announced her candidacy.
“I was born and raised a die-hard Democrat,” she said. “Somehow I strayed a little bit, but I’m back home.”
The 75th District state representative position is currently held by John Anthony, R-Plainfield. He was chosen as the new state representative in August to replace Pam Roth, R-Morris, who resigned to move to Texas with her family.
Recently Grundy County Board Chairman Ron Severson, R-Morris, said he will be running as well.
Shugart is a former Morris alderwoman. She served about four years on the Morris City Council until she moved from her ward in early 2008 and was forced to resign. She later ran in a primary election for the Grundy County Board, but did not win the nomination.
She served as a deputy coroner for the Grundy County Coroner’s office in the early 2000s. She currently is a registered nurse in the cardiovascular service area at Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers.
Chairman of the Grundy County Democratic Central Committee, Mike Clemmons, introduced Shugart to the crowd of about 30 people.
“The weather has broke, I hope this is a sign of things to come,” he said.
Grundy, Kendall, Will and La Salle counties’ Democratic committees are backing Shugart as their candidate, as well as the Illinois State Democrats, he said. Local officials including Grundy County Clerk Lana Phillips, Treasurer Marcy Miller, Grundy County Board members Dick Joyce and Frank Halpin, Morris Mayor Richard Kopczick and Kate Cloonen, state representative of the 79th District, were present for Shugart’s announcement.
Shugart called the Democratic party, a party for the people. Her father, George Shugart, was a founder of the party in Grundy County, she said.
The Democrats represent the hardworking middle class, she said, and she herself is middle class and understands the challenges they face.
“I know in my heart I am in the right place now,” she said. “I learned that deep in my heart.”
Shugart explained her goals are to bring jobs back to the district and build partnerships with state universities to make it more accessible for people to earn degrees closer to home. She also wants to bridge those high school graduates who are not the college type with the vocations and trades, she said.
Working with others through challenges is something she said she has experience in. After the announcement she used working on the boundary line agreement between Morris, Channahon and Minooka as an example.
“Many people said that would never be resolved, you’ll never get those mayors to agree,” she said.
But Shugart said she was the lead negotiator and although it was a long process and tough, in the end it benefited everyone involved and paved the way for the creation of the Brisbin Road interchange, which is critical to industrial development for the area.