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updated: 8/2/2011 10:34 AM

Stephens resigns after 27 years in Illinois House

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Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD -- A southern Illinois Republican who has served in the state's House for more than a quarter century said he is resigning for personal reasons and not because he's affected by redrawn district maps.

Ron Stephens of Greenville has held the 102nd House District seat for 27 years, representing all or portions of Bond, Clinton, Madison, St. Clair, Effingham, Fayette and Shelby counties. His term would have expired in January 2013. He has served as assistant minority leader.

The departure of the 63-year-old pharmacist and decorated Vietnam veteran means that Republican Party chairmen in his district will pick someone to serve the remainder of Stephens' term.

Last spring, the Democratic-controlled state legislature drew up new political maps that put Stephens' home into the same district as fellow Republican Rep. John Cavaletto of Salem. With that, Stephens' options included running against Cavaletto or moving into a redrawn 108th district, which covers much of the turf Stephens has represented and now has no state representative living in it.

Stephens said the redistricting complicated his situation, but that it wasn't the basis of his decision to step down. Stephens also said his resignation has nothing to do with any personal issues, including his 2001 admission that he was addicted to painkillers, which he said was linked to an injury sustained during the Vietnam War, when he was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

Stephens also was cited last year for drunken driving in Decatur and sentenced to a year of court-supervised probation.

Stephens, a prostate-cancer survivor, said his life is in order and that he merely won't be able to finish his term, adding that he looks forward to spending time with his family and getting more involved in the pharmacy business.

Stephens was elected to the House in 1985, lost an election in 1990 but was re-elected in 1992.

He said one of his proudest accomplishments was establishing the practice six years ago of regularly reading the names of fallen soldiers into the official House record.