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Lebanon business owner tabbed to succeed Watson

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

A Lebanon business owner who has been serving on the St. Clair County Board has been picked to succeed Frank Watson as state senator for the 51st District.

Kyle McCarter was chosen from a field of 11 candidates for the seat, which Watson vacated on Feb. 16. Among those candidates was Randy Pollard of Vandalia, the Fayette County Republican Central Committee chairman.

McCarter was chosen by the 51st District Legislative Committee on Saturday afternoon, after a day-long interview process involving the 11 candidates.

In addition to Fayette County, counties that lie either partially or completely within the 51st District boundaries include Bond, Effingham, Clinton, Madison, Christian, Shelby, Moultrie and Macon.

Watson suffered a stroke in October of last year, and in announcing his resignation on Feb. 2, he cited the need to continue his rehabilitation and his desire to spend more time with his wife, two children and new grandchild.

McCarter, 46, is the owner of Custom Product Innovations and Custom Coating Innovations. He has served on the St. Clair County Board since 2000.

He graduated from Oral Roberts University with a degree in accounting in 1984 and served as a missionary in Kenya and India in the 1980s.

He and his wife, Victoria, have two sons, Austin and Zachary.

“I’m excited by this choice,” said Jerry Stocks of Macon County, the chairman of the 51st District Legislative Committee and Macon County GOP chairman. “We have a fine state senator.

Stocks said McCarter pledged to be as accessible as was Watson. Stocks also drew a comparison between McCarter and another popular legislator from the area.

“He (McCarter) has the potential to be as successful a legislator as Duane Noland,” said Stocks.

“I was drawing comparisons to Noland in my mind as I listened to Kyle today.”

McCarter was introduced after a day long interview process that included candidates from all over the 51st Senate District.

“I am honored to serve in this position held by Frank Watson and I’m looking forward to serving, as he did, the people of this district,” said McCarter. “I can’t wait to meet all the citizens throughout this district and do my best to serve them.”

McCarter was asked by reporters why he chose to make himself available for the Senate seat.

“Leaders step up to lead, and I just saw an opportunity to do more than I’m doing in my local area,” said McCarter. “I’ve never maneuvered for position, but I’ve offered myself to serve, and I’m very honored these gentlemen had enough confidence in me to replace Senator Watson.”

“This is a great opportunity to serve people. We have a lot of people hurting in this state. We have a financial crisis, people need help and they need us to sincerely listen to what’s affecting them,” said McCarter.