The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • 'Optimism in the Air'

  • Fowler sworn in as 59th District senator
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  • SPRINGFIELD – The atmosphere on the floor of the Illinois Senate Wednesday did not reflect the dismal weather outside the Capitol, as State Sen. Dale Fowler, R-Harrisburg, took his seat as the new senator for the 59th Senate district.

    Fowler, who was in attendance with his wife, Jill, and their children Hannah and Ben, took the oath of office during the inauguration of the 100th General Assembly. After Fowler and the other freshman senators were sworn in, there was a thunderous applause from the Senate floor and the galleys filled with observers. Fowler could be seen embracing his family one at a time.

    Prior to the start of the session, the Senate floor was a politely raucous affair, with various senators with a handful of family members and friends greeting each other and exchanging pleasantries. Handshakes, hugs and smiles were shared. There was little evidence of the budget battle that has consumed both houses of Illinois' legislature for the past two years.

    Instead, senators seemed genuinely happy to visit with fellow senators, families and friends. Gov. Bruce Rauner, who opened the Senate session, seemed jovial as well, whether it was asking those in attendance to stand for the invocation or calling upon Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis to swear in the new senators.

    Fowler said he felt that the friendly atmosphere was noticeable.

    “The Senate is very intriguing. It is very formal and very professional, but you could feel the optimism in the air,” Fowler said.

    He said after the session was finished, he received warm wishes from many Democratic senators.

    “We're all on the same page together, and it's time for us to join hands and time for us to become one

    and put the state back on the solid ground it deserves to be on,” Fowler said. “We're going to do what's right for people of the state of Illinois. I fully believe that's what going to transpire in the next few months.”

    Fowler said he was ready to face the challenges serving in the Senate likely will bring.

    "Today is an especially special day to be sworn into office,” he said. “My focus is on the people of the 59th Senate District and telling our story. I have been blessed with this opportunity and am ready to help revitalize Southern Illinois for future generations."
    Fowler said he has been inside the Capitol several times previously, but today the significance of his undertaking was almost indescribable.

    “It really made it surreal walking through Capitol today. Looking up as we walked in, I was reminded of the history and responsibility involved,” he said. “I've been trying to put it all in perspective, and it's somewhat numbing. It's a position of extreme honor.”

    He also said having his family with him was especially touching.

    Page 2 of 2 - “To have them with me, together, when I raised my right hand today – what an incredible experience,” Fowler said.
    Fowler was not the only freshman senator from Southern Illinois. State Sen. Paul Schimpf, newly elected senator for the 58th Senate district likewise took his oath of office as well. Schimpf said he was proud to serve in his position.
    "It is my honor to have been entrusted with the awesome responsibility of representing 220,000 citizens of the 58th Senate District. I will work hard every day for all of my constituents and I promise to always tell the truth," Schimpf said. "I am fully prepared to hit the ground running and look forward to helping make Illinois a better place to live and raise our families."
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