Former Pekin City Councilman running for state representative

Sharon Woods Harris GateHouse Media Illinois

Former Pekin City Councilman Chad Schmidgall says he is running for state representative for the 91st District because he has been involved in politics for “quite a few years and really have a passion to help the people and I think this is a way I can do that.”

Schmidgall, 38, of Pekin, a Democrat, will run against incumbent Mike Unes, R-East Peoria. 

Schmidgall has embarked on an early campaign and made a formal announcement of his candidacy Wednesday, although his name was on the spring primary ballot. The election is Nov. 4.

Unes, who has served two terms in office, could not be reached for comment.

Schmidgall is an architect. He served on the Pekin City Council from 2009 to 2013. He said he did not leave the council to prepare for the race for the 91st District. He said his wife, Lisa, had died on Oct. 17, 2011, “So I really didn’t feel like I was in a position to continue serving at that point. It was a very emotional time for me and I didn’t want to commit to a four-year term when I really didn’t know where I was going to go next and what I was going to do. I’m remarried now and we’ve committed to live in this area. Based on some conversations I’ve had with my new wife and my family, they’re all very supportive of my desire to be involved.”

Chad Schmidgall remarried on March 12, 2012. He and his new wife, Julie, have five children between them and still live in Pekin.

Schmidgall said he had talked to people in the city of Pekin, Canton and East Peoria and found support for his candidacy.

Schmidgall said that during his time on the council Unes was the representative in the 91st District.

“We were the largest town in the district and he never reached out to members of the city 

council, at least not me, and I feel like that if he wasn’t doing that for the city of Pekin he likely wasn’t doing it for some of the smaller towns,” said Schmidgall. “So I feel there is somewhat of a gap there.

“I really feel like, as I’ve been talking to some different groups, they’ve said he hasn’t come and talked to them. It may be he has different ideals ... but it’s his responsibility to represent the people in his district — all of the people in his district, whether he happens to agree with them or not. I don’t think he’s doing that fairly. I really feel like central Illinois’ families deserve a representative who is committed to fostering economic development and creating jobs in our  communities. We must address Illinois’ mounting financial challenges and we have to work collaboratively to improve the quality of life for the low-income residents.”

One of the issues that may dog Schmidgall is his DUI arrest on Nov. 3, 2013.

“I was at a friend’s birthday party and left too late and I was cited for driving under the influence,” said Schmidgall. “It was a profound lapse in judgment and I am deeply sorry for it.

“I should have called a cab or not driven. Impaired driving is a serious matter and it has great implications. I firmly believe that public officials must be held to a higher standard and I am striving to regain the trust of community members I want to represent.”

Schmidgall said he does not have a drinking problem.

“I’ve had to take surveys and go through some classes,” said Schmidgall. “There have never been any red flags raised through those types of things.”

Schmidgall said he was subject to all of the penalties that any other person convicted of a DUI is. He did not have a statutory summary suspension as is common with DUI convictions, however. In a plea agreement, Schmidgall pleaded guilty on Dec. 5 to DUI. In exchange, charges of DUI/BAC 0.08, improper lane usage and operating an uninsured motor vehicle were dismissed. On that same day his statutory summary suspension was rescinded.