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Former Waukegan basketball coach announces run for state House

Al Rogers coaches Waukegan High School bulldogs during practice 2005. | File photo

Al Rogers coaches the Waukegan High School bulldogs during a practice in 2005. | File photo

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Updated: December 4, 2013 2:40AM

Al Rogers, former security director for Waukegan Public Schools and one-time coach of the Waukegan High School Bulldogs basketball team, has announced his candidacy for the 61st District state representative seat.

“All of my years of service with the public schools as well as my service in the community has prepared me to hold this office,” Rogers said in an interview Friday, Oct. 4.

Rogers, 53, will run as a Democrat in the March 18, 2014 primary.

Veteran incumbent Republican JoAnn Osmond, of Antioch, announced last summer that she won’t seek reelection.

Rogers said he will campaign on a three-pronged platform: property tax reform, equity in funding for education and cost-effective sentencing and prison reform.

“When you look at the money we’re spending to incarcerate low-level offenders, we could solve the budget crisis with that,” Rogers said. “Prisons are designed to punish violent offenders. We cannot continue to operate by sending low-level drug offenders to prison.”

A native of Zion, Rogers served on the Zion Elementary District 6 School Board for eight years, including three years as vice president.

After 25 years with Waukegan schools, he founded in 2008 the non-profit United Youth Academy, a transitional living center for teens aging out of foster care. The agency folded after three years due to cuts in state funding, said Rogers, who currently manages B.J. Gaston Bethesda Village, a 40-unit senior residence in Zion.

“I worked with young adults the first part of my life and now seniors,” Rogers said. “I find a lot of commonality between the two. Both of them have a certain degree of need.”

Republican candidates so far include Tom Handyside and Joe Neal.

The 61st District covers all of Winthrop Harbor, Zion, Newport Township, Wadsworth and Old Mill Creek as well as part of Gurnee, Antioch, Lake Villa and Lindenhurst.

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