Metro-East News

College basketball coach to run for Illinois Senate

A third candidate is vying for the Republican nomination in the 54th Senate District currently held by state Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon.

Greenville University men’s basketball coach George Barber is set to announce his candidacy for the seat Monday during stops around the Senate district, according to a news release.

“I’ve always had a desire for public service,” Barber said. “I saw two paths before me after college, coaching and public service. I went into coaching but with a plan to enter public service later in life. The time is right. Our five children are grown, and the opportunity exists with the open seats.”

Barber, 53, is set to start his 19th year of coaching at Greenville University. He has never run for public office before.

McCarter has said he will not seek another term.

Ben Stratemeyer, of Centralia, the chairman of the Marion County Republican Party, has thrown his name in the hat for the 54th district, as has New Baden resident and Air Force veteran Rafael Him.

The primary election is scheduled for March, ahead of the November general election.

No Democrat has announced a run for the seat.

The Senate district reaches from as far east as Effingham to Troy and Mascoutah to the west. The district also includes Nashville, Greenville and Salem.