Legislative trailblazer Bradley Fritts followed an unexpected path

Brad Fritts

Representative Bradley Fritts (R-Dixon), the youngest elected member of the Illinois General Assembly, is shaping a distinctive path in his early political career. Graduating from the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign in 2021 with a degree in agricultural and consumer economics and a concentration in agribusiness, markets and management,  he applies his economics knowledge in his daily responsibilities as a politician.

During his college years, Fritts actively participated in the Collegiate Farm Bureau and completed an internship with Cargill. Despite receiving a full-time offer from Cargill upon graduation, he chose to return to Dixon, Illinois, and contribute to the family farm business, specializing in corn and soybean production.

While immersed in agriculture and farming, Fritts received encouragement from his uncle, John Fritts, a former Lee County Treasurer with over 24 years of experience, to venture into the political sphere. Initially skeptical, Brad eventually recognized the frustrations he harbored about rural Illinois and the expectation to leave the state after obtaining an education. Motivated to change this narrative, he embarked on his political journey.

“In my opinion, Illinois is one of the greatest states in the country,” Fritts stated. He believes in the vast potential of the state, and he highlights the advanced infrastructure, strategic economic position, and incredible farmland. However, he acknowledges the past mismanagement that has contributed to political challenges in the state.

Brad Fritts

Elected as the State Representative of the 74th District, Fritts assumed office on January 11, 2023, becoming the youngest elected member of the Illinois General Assembly at the age of 22.

Although new to the role, he recognizes the need to utilize his platform to benefit Illinois citizens. He prioritizes community engagement and relationship building as fundamental elements in understanding and representing the needs of his constituents.

With a 78-40 split in the House, Brad often poses the question of “what can we agree on?” as he collaborates with representatives across the aisle who are in the majority. Despite being a freshman in the super minority party, he helped pass four pieces of legislation in the past year.

Looking ahead, Fritts is committed to addressing the issue of inadequate rural healthcare in the communities he serves. Through visits and tours of the five hospitals in his district, he observed their financial challenges, particularly through losses related to Medicare and Medicaid.

From Ottawa to Geneseo and Dixon to Peoria, the absence of obstetrician units means constituents are unable to receive maternity services in these hospitals. Fritts is aware that people will be deterred from living in the 74th District if they have to travel nearly an hour for essential medical services.

Fritts attributes his success to the foundational knowledge he gained in the College of ACES. He utilizes his economics expertise on a daily basis.

“If I didn’t have the baseline I learned from ACES, I wouldn’t have pursued a career in politics,” he said. “It should be a requirement to have a basic understanding of economics in my role.”

As someone who was sworn in as the youngest elected member of the Illinois General Assembly just shy of two years after graduation — Fritts encourages students to “always keep an open mind about where you are going to end up.”

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