Fortner won't seek re-election

Republican state Rep. Mike Fortner of West Chicago has announced he won't seek re-election.

"I've decided that things in life change, and it's time for me to move on," Fortner said Monday.

The 59-year-old will end his current term in 2019 after 12 years in the Illinois General Assembly - six years representing the 49th District and six years before that representing the 95th District.

Before becoming a state lawmaker, he served 12 years as an elected official in West Chicago, including six as mayor.

Fortner said he started talking to family members in December about not seeking a seventh term next year. He made his final decision this summer.

Last month, Fortner joined a group of Republicans who voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of the state budget. But he said that vote had nothing to do with his decision to leave the legislature.

"This was something that I was thinking about well in advance of that," he said.

Fortner said his support for a state income tax increase was based on the mathematics.

"I voted for the income tax increase because the math told me that, as far as a possible budget deal, this was less costly than many of the alternatives that had been put forward earlier in the spring," Fortner said.

"A tax increase at some point was going to be necessary," he said. "It was unavoidable."

He said the made his announcement now about not seeking re-election because candidates are going to start circulating petitions after Labor Day.

"By making a decision now, we can open it up for others who want to run and make it clear that it's an open seat," Fortner said.

During his time as a state lawmaker, Fortner was able to use his experience in local government, science and technology to help residents.

"I led the effort to improve our electric power by allowing municipalities to buy power on behalf of their residents," he said. "I have been successful in protecting our privacy from unauthorized video recording and unauthorized use of passwords on social media.

"This year, I was successful in helping to negotiate major improvements to the way we recycle electronic equipment and to improve access to voting registration through automation."

He said he will continue to pursue legislation that benefits everyone in the state until he leaves office in January 2019.

Fortner worked as a physics professor at Northern Illinois University until he retired from that position at the end of 2015. He has no plans yet for what he's going to do after leaving public office.

"I'll look around and see what my options are," he said. "If there's something that interests me, I will look into it further."

The 49th District includes portions of Aurora, Bartlett, Batavia, Geneva, Naperville, North Aurora, South Elgin, St. Charles, West Chicago and Wayne.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.