An Air Force reservist, who works as an intelligence officer, is preparing a run for the state Senate in 2018.
Tanya Hildenbrand, 47, of Belleville, plans to file to run as a Republican for the state Senate seat held by James Clayborne, a Belleville Democrat.
The primary election is in March. The 57th State Senate District includes most of St. Clair County and part of Madison County.
A phone call to Clayborne wasn’t immediately returned.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Hildenbrand, who has a law degree from the University of Iowa, is a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve. She has been in the military for 28 years, with stints in the Army National Guard and Air National Guard.
She works as a senior intelligence analyst. She came to the area in 2009 as a counter terrorism expert.
Hildenbrand has been deployed to Afghanistan, Kuwait, Turkey, England and Guantanamo Bay, and has worked at the Pentagon.
She is new to politics, but has voted in the 2016 Republican Party primary, according to the St. Clair County Clerk’s office.
“Since 2009, I’ve seen a lot of corruption and mismanagement of funds, and my taxes have significantly increased,” Hildenbrand said. “And I’m not the only person. When your highest monthly expenditure is your property taxes, that’s a problem. Thousands of people are being impacted by this. When you go to sleep at night and you worry, ‘If I lose my job, how do I pay my property taxes?” that’s a significant problem that many people in Illinois are facing. Someone has to take a stand and look at the efficiencies in government. How could we operate more efficiently? Give money back to the folks; let them invest back in the community.”
When I tell them my ideas, economically … they don’t care if I’m Republican or Democrat. They care about ideas. They care about ‘What is going to make my life better.’ I don’t think that’s a red and blue issue.
Tanya Hildenbrand, Republican candidate for the 57th State Senate District
She discussed the 27 school districts in St. Clair County.
“We need to try consolidate and see where we could save money on behalf of the St. Clair (County) taxpayer. It’s not about taking money away from teachers; its about ‘Where are these efficiencies?’”
She said if she wins the nomination, it would be a David vs. Goliath and the Democrat would have the money advantage.
“I have nothing,” Hildenbrand said. “I’m going to have to think outside the box.”
She said she plans on relying on volunteers, and she would be going up against a state senator who had more than $200,000 in his campaign account at the end of the second quarter, according to the State Board of Elections.
“It shouldn’t be about money,” Hildenbrand said. “It should be about ideas. It should be about how is this person going to make this place better, and I will work my fingers to the bone to help all the folks within this district.”
She said she would have voted against the income tax increase and the spending plan passed by the legislature.
“I go around talking to people whether it be at Dierbergs, Hobby Lobby or the gas station, and when I talk to people on a one-on-one basis, I’m quite the people person,” Hildenbrand said. “I’ve been talking to folks since I moved here. When I tell them my ideas, economically … they don’t care if I’m Republican or Democrat. They care about ideas. They care about ‘What is going to make my life better.’ I don’t think that’s a red and blue issue.”