SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) — Even with more than a year until Illinois’ next gubernatorial election, several Republicans want their party’s nomination.

That includes former State Senator Paul Schimpf, businessman Gary Rabine, and current State Senator of the 55th District, Darren Bailey.

In a one-on-one interview, Bailey said his long list of community involvement — ranging from 17 years as a North Clay school board member to former State Representative — will play a key role in securing his place as the 44th governor of Illinois.

“I think when people meet me and get to know me, the sincerity is real. We travel with people to places who have been with us for years and they can vouch to say, ‘He is who says he is,'” Bailey said.

One of Bailey’s top priorities is to evaluate the state’s finances.

“I have proposed a zero based budget. Absolutely spending freeze, no tax increases. Every department would start at zero and begin to build. They would have to show and prove why they need the money,” he said.

To hear Bailey’s opinion on the Illinois pension and how he plans to resolve it, click the video below.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Bailey has been critical of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s multi-phased re-open Illinois plan.

“The economy has been decimated. Senior citizens in long term care are frustrated because they have had no visitation rights, no social activity. We’ve taken a toll because of it,” Bailey said. “You let each county determine what the health department needs to do. We live in a free society, we’re Americans. We’re smart and we’re people of common sense and ultimately, we’ll do what’s right,” Bailey explained.

Also on his agenda, Bailey said he would evaluate bills already signed into law, including a police reform bill signed by Pritzker.

To hear Bailey’s thoughts on if Illinois needed to adhere to stricter gun restrictions due to a recent shooting in Colorado, click below.

With a year and a half left until the election, Bailey feels confident.

“When we figure this out, under my governorship, Illinois is going to be a great state that will emulate across this nation. I truly believe that,” Bailey said.