Scott Bennett was recently appointed State Senator from the 52nd district of Illinois, which encompasses most of Champaign-Urbana and Danville, after the seat was vacated by new state treasurer Mike Frerichs. Bennett will serve the two years remaining on Frerichs’ current term. A native of Central Illinois who grew up in Gibson City, Bennett attended college at Illinois State and law school at the University of Illinois. But it was a summer internship at the Clinton White House where he met his wife, Stacy, who was the other White House intern assigned to his office. Bennett left the area after law school, but returned to be near family and for Stacy to pursue her doctorate at the University of Illinois. Prior to his appointment Bennett was a prosecutor in the Champaign County state’s attorney’s office. Their children, twins Emma and Samuel, were born in 2013; the family lives in Champaign.
See why we think Scott Bennett is a Chambana Dad to Know.
Question: What was your reaction to your appointment?
The field of the 12 candidates for the Senate appointment was very qualified and deep, so I was incredibly humbled and honored to be selected. I had been active in the community for many years, as well as in the Democratic Party, and knew I had a good base of support for the appointment. Nevertheless, it was a wonderful surprise to be selected.
Q: What experiences in your life have helped prepare you for this office?
My background is well-suited for this diverse legislative district. It includes many farms and rural communities, similar to the one in which I grew up. It also includes much of Champaign, Urbana, and Danville, with the challenging urban issues that many larger cities face. My experience as a prosecutor has given me the opportunity to understand these issues–and too often to witness the human costs of neglecting them.
Q: What is your vision for the district?
There are many things that we are doing well in East Central Illinois, and I hope to build on that. However, many communities are suffering from a lack of quality jobs, and I want to focus on attracting employers to our area. That will go hand-in-hand with my priority to improve our state educational system, from fairly funding our early childhood and K-12 schools to working with Danville Area Community College, Parkland College, and the University of Illinois. These educational institutions are the engines that drive our local economy, and increasing their funding will have the added benefit of graduating additional qualified workers for both current and potential employers.
Q: Do your twins have a sense of what is happening to you?
Like all children, they clearly believe that it’s all been about them. They thoroughly enjoyed my swearing in, where they hammed it up for the cameras and crawled around the courtroom to anyone that would show them any attention. Later in the week in Springfield, it was so special to have them with me during the inauguration ceremony on the Senate floor, but the whole time I was terrified to have their always-moving hands so close to the voting buttons on my desk.
Q: Tell about your children and their health.
Our children are twins, but seem to share only a birthday. They are different genders, have different complexions, have different eye colors, and drastically different personalities. Our daughter also has a rare condition called heterotaxy, where some of her internal organs are not in the correct position. The condition is rare enough that doctors have not been able to give us much information, so my wife has co-founded Heterotaxy Connection, a group of parents of children with heterotaxy from all over the world to raise awareness and share their experiences and knowledge. Many children we have met have already endured repeated procedures to address their internal issues, but at this point, Emma has not required any surgeries.
Q: Favorite things to do with your family in Champaign-Urbana?
We love to get outside when we can. When the weather is warmer, we take walks with our giant twin stroller or have picnics at local parks. This summer, both twins will be walking, so I am looking forward to taking them to Meadowbrook Park or Lake of the Woods and just watching them explore their surroundings.
Q: What does date night mean to you and your wife?
I think we have been out on two dates without the twins since they were born fifteen months ago: an Illinois basketball game and then dinner in downtown Champaign. It’s tough to impose on friends or family to watch two toddlers, so for our socializing we generally just have people over to our house for dinner or take our kids with us.
In junior high school, I was in a Chevrolet commercial that aired during the Super Bowl. I had one line, which they had me repeat in dozens of takes all day. When the commercial finally aired–the line was cut out.
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