Normal Town Council member Scott Preston will run for Illinois House as a Republican
By Ryan Denham and Eric Stock
Normal Town Council member Scott Preston said Wednesday he plans to run for the Illinois House in the redrawn 91st House District.
Preston, a Republican, is one among the first candidates to announce a run in the 91st District that includes much of Bloomington-Normal and stretches west along Interstate 74 to Peoria. The seat was held by a Republican before redistricting, but it’s expected to be competitive for a Democrat now.
“Illinois is a great state with amazing people, yet our state politicians continue to fail us,” Preston said in a statement. “As a lifelong resident and entrepreneur, I run for state representative to bring a fresh perspective and problem-solving mentality to the issues our communities face every day. We must prioritize getting our economy back on track, investing in our educational institutions, and defeating efforts to defund or lessen the powers of law enforcement.”
Preston, 34, owns a real estate investment company. He was first elected to the Town Council in 2013, then becoming the youngest council member in Normal history. He was re-elected to the council in 2021, and his term expires in 2025.
Preston said addressing corruption and the state's population loss are two areas he'd like to focus on if elected to the state legislature.
“(With) the exodus we’ve seen of people leaving the state, I think that we need more McLean County, Central Illinois values and vision down in Springfield and I hope I have the opportunity to bring that," Preston said.
Preston said the state needs more of a two-party system to bring more accountability to state government. Democrats hold supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature, the governor’s office and all statewide offices.
Preston also is a vice chair with the McLean County Republican Party, although the town council seat is a nonpartisan position. He considered a run for party chair in 2018, but ultimately opted against it.
Of his time on the council, Preston touted his “commitment to economic growth, keeping taxes low, and promoting policies to ensure a high quality of life.”
Preston faced criticism in 2016 for his handling of inaccurate travel expenses for trips on behalf of the town. He acknowledged poor record-keeping, calling them “inadvertent mistakes.” The Appellate Prosecutor’s Office was asked to review the matter and, in 2017, declined to file charges. Preston was re-elected to the town council later that year.
Preston currently lives in the 105th Illinois House district in north Normal, a short distance from the 91st, though he would still be eligible to serve in the 91st if elected.
State Board of Elections spokesperson Matt Dietrich confirmed Preston could run for either district this year because his new and old districts overlap following the redistricting which state lawmakers approved last year.
“As long the new district as some point touches the district that the candidate currently lives in, that candidate is eligible to run in the new district,” Dietrich said.
Most of the 105th District where Preston currently resides covers rural areas north of the Twin Cities. Preston said it makes more sense for him to seek to represent Bloomington-Normal.
“The bulk of McLean County and Bloomington-Normal, my home community, where I spend my time and work and serve in Normal city hall is in the 91st," Preston replied.
State elections law requires that Preston would need to move into the district 18 months before the next election if he were to run in 2024.
“If I win and am successful, I will absolutely be moving into the district immediately,” he said.
The field of candidates for the 91st District is still taking shape.
Democrat Karla Bailey-Smith of Bloomington, a small business owner and Democratic precinct committee person, said she’s running. She ran unsuccessfully for the Illinois House in 2020.
Former Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner, also a Democrat, is considering a run as well.
Preston is not the first Normal Town Council member making a run at higher office. Chemberly Cummings, a Democrat, ran unsuccessfully against veteran state Rep. Dan Brady in 2020.
Candidates can begin filing to get on the 2022 ballot on March 7.