Newly appointed State Senator Kyle McCarter visited Shelbyville Tuesday morning in a special meet and greet session at the Shelby County Farm Bureau office.

McCarter is filling the unfinished term of Senator Frank Watson (R-51st District), who retired last week to concentrate on recuperating from a stroke he suffered this fall.

He was selected Saturday as Watson’s replacement by the Republican Committee Chairmen of the counties in the district which includes a large part of Shelby County.

McCarter, 46, of Lebanon in St. Clair County, has been a member of the St. Clair County Board since 2000 and is a small business owner. He graduated from Oral Roberts University with a degree in accounting.

“I’m learning about your community. I’m willing to listen. What you see is what you get,” McCarter told community representatives. “I’ll try my best to fill the big shoes of Frank Watson.”

“Working together is the objective for getting things done. This is going to be a great challenge for me. I’ve always had great respect for Frank Watson. I couldn’t be more honored following him,” he said.

McCarter fielded questions and comments regarding a variety of issues of interest to Shelby County residents and took notes on others.

He said that he is in favor of conceal and carry issue.

“It brings about a real responsibility to firearms and the rights that citizens should always have,” McCarter said.

Shelby County Engineer Alan Spesard requested that motor fuel tax allocations be approved.

“If it goes to earmarks, counties like Shelby County won’t get anything.”

Spesard also presented McCarter a packet of bridge projects for stimulus money. He was presenting the same package Tuesday in Springfield.

Retired farmer Fred Nabor talked about raising the weight limits on the roads. McCarter said he would take that into consideration.

Mark Luce of Strasburg stated his concern with TIF districts and the prevailing wage issue and the effects the prevailing wage could have on a struggling village.

“If that TIF can’t be allowed to generate money because it can’t afford to build anything, it’s just going to kill rural Illinois,” Luce said. He added that several other Shelby County communities are also considering TIF districts.

McCarter said that he has had experience with TIF districts.

“Some TIFs have been misused to suck the life out of neighboring communities. There is abuse, but there are good uses of it. I will be the minority spokesperson for economic development. The prevailing wage issue is something that will have to be talked about,” McCarter said.

Shelby County Board member Rob Amling told McCarter about the loss of potential lake revenue fromt the closing of Wolf Creek State Park by former Governor Rod Blagojevich.

“That closing was a big economic blow to us and we ask your support in getting the park reopened,” Amling said.

Matt Forcum spoke about the property tax support for school districts.

McCarter stated, “The last thing we need to do in a huge recession is to raise taxes.”

He added that he believes the state’s general aid formula for the schools needs to be revised.

“As it stands now as the EAV (equalized assessed valuation) rises, the general state aid decreases. The problem is the general aid formula has never been adjusted for inflation. Yet the schools have been adjusted for inflation. The property owners have had to foot the bill to pay for the school’s inflation. We need to tweak the formula to make it more equitable to schools,” McCarter said.

McCarter has already been assigned to education and economic development committees in his new position as State Senator.

“I’m glad to be on every committee they want me to be on,” McCarter said.

As as small business owner, McCarter said he gravitates toward the needs of small businesses and farmers.

“I have a real sensitivity to business owners. The worst thing we can do is ignore the business owners. We can’t help the employees unless we help the employers,” he said.

“We can’t just create jobs, we need to help employers be in a postition to create jobs. Those are the jobs that will last. People need to know that politicians understand what they are going through. Government needs to address its spending. Families are having to do more with less, government needs to do the same thing. We have to look at how we are spending the money.”

McCarter also said that the Illinois government has a lot to do in rebuilding its reputation after the ousting of Rod Blagojevich as governor and the rise of controversy surrounding U.S. Senator Roland Burrus.

“We have a lot to do to make up for the embarrassment of a few. Illinois has become an embarrassment to the nation. We have to gain the respect of the people again,” McCarter said.

McCarter will return to the area again on March 13 for the Shelby County Republican Central Committee’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner

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