Illinois’ Problems Are Beyond Party

Here is my Letter to the Editor of my hometown newspaper, The News-Progress. When I was in high school, I actually wrote sports stories for them, as well as co-writing an exposé with a classmate regarding the costly maintenance problems with our elementary school. That story was actually distributed to all registered voters in Moultrie County.

Local newspapers are one of the only sources remaining that provide local news about your government, education, criminal justice, and other vital resources of information.


Re: Somethings Haven’t Changed

The state’s problems are beyond party. We don’t live 25 years ago, either. This is 2017, and there is bipartisan consensus on a state budget today. The Governor simply stands in the way of any budget becoming law.

Governor Rauner is constitutionally mandated to submit a balanced budget each year. He never once has. The State House and State Senate are the only elected bodies trying to pass a budget and actually deal with our state’s budget crisis. Any budget deal must be able to overcome a Rauner veto, as he demands to get 100% of what he wants. He actually doesn’t want a budget deal because he wants to use this issue in next year’s gubernatorial election.

Meanwhile, the Governor is off vacationing and campaigning, has made at least three bad lease deals with his buddies using our taxpayer money, and continues to hire his friends and business associates into taxpayer funded, six-figure salary positions that most are not even qualified to fill. That’s not good governance and certainly it’s not good business.

As downstate Illinoisans, we also don’t vote for Mike Madigan. We do vote for our state representatives and senators, our Congressional Representatives and Senators, and all of our locally elected officials. Yet, we send the same Party and the same people to Springfield and D.C. every election.

Aren’t we all tired of doing the same thing and expecting a different result? I’m frankly tired of the excuses. It’s all I’ve heard for decades. The blame game doesn’t solve anything and doesn’t help one single family here. It does help incumbents continue to be reelected despite not having any significant results to show for their time in office.

For a Party that lauds their responsibility and accountability credentials, there seems to be a vacuum of both when it comes to getting the real work of the People done. We all deserve so much better than we’ve been receiving for decades. The people we’ve sent to Springfield and D.C. haven’t helped our communities and families. Let’s send different people.

Kevin Gaither

gaither4il.com

-Running for Congress in the 15th District of Illinois

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Update on White County Fracking Permit

The fracking permit in White County has been placed on hold. In fact, Woolsey will have to resubmit their application. A letter was posted on the IDNR, Illinois Department of National Resources, website with the details.

Image result for white county illinois landmarks

From SAFE:


Not ONE Well!
Public Comments and Hearing on Hold!

“…a significant error was found…..this error will require us to publish again the public notice and send to the landowners the specific public notice. We understand the this change will also require us to cancel the public hearing date as well as set new dates for public comment period and public hearing. “

Assuming that Woolsey resubmits its application, we should have additional time to submit public comments. Keep a watch on IDNR webpage and if anyone would like to help prepare for the next comment period, please let us know.

We thank everyone for their efforts for the last 4 weeks. Let’s keep up the good work.


This application could be resubmitted at any moment, so we must remain vigilant to protect our towns, communities, livelihoods, and families.

Fracking on the New Madrid Seismic Zone a No Go

First Q & A

Send Me Your Questions, Concerns, or Comments.
Email: kevin@gaither4il.com
Twitter: @gaither4il
gaither4il.com

I think we need less personality and more connecting with voters. Less personal and social issues and more economic messages that connect with workers.

“We need people to understand the conservatives and find common ground. Enough revolutions and verbal bomb throwing.”

When I discuss finding common ground, it’s with voters. Without more voters coming over to support our candidates in areas like the 15th District of Illinois, we have no chance of taking back the House for American workers and small business owners.

Number one, there are many people throughout rural and Mid America, the very areas that Dems and Progressives lost, that deserve better. Secondly, these areas have been grossly underserved by their representation in state legislatures and in Congress. Many only have had the “verbal bombs” thrown at them from both sides. The problem is that they’ve known the conservative mantras their whole lives. We have to begin to change that now.

Q: But how? It’s entrenched in their lives and culture.

A: By first listening to the people. Then, relating what you hear to a message that resonates with them. This won’t happen overnight.

Democrats have largely left these voters behind for decades. That vacuum and damage can’t be bridged and healed overnight, or over even one election cycle. What most don’t realize or never hear is how the GOP policies have harmed their lives and livelihoods.

Calling them stupid, deplorables, bigots, and fascists doesn’t really bode well for bringing them into the big tent that is the Democratic Party. It also happens to not be accurate.

Q: Many claim Bernie Sanders’ plans are financially not feasible without severely raising taxes. I have no problem paying higher taxes for single payer healthcare or free college, but still too many people claim this is socialism.

A: The real issue with paying for programs and services are the caps on taxes for the wealthiest. Nowhere is this more blatantly obvious than in the State of Illinois where we have a flat tax system. The highest income earners pay an effective tax rate of 3.75%. Compare that to your own tax rates. 

This is where education of voters is quite powerful. You can only do that one voter at a time. Most won’t believe an ad or something on the news. They naturally fear socialism and definitely higher taxes. They distrust the $15 minimum wage and free college.

I’ve talked to so many intelligent, hardworking Americans that believe if we did raise the minimum wage that new workers would be the only ones that receive that $15/hour but that they wouldn’t. It’s bizarre, but I hear this everywhere I go.

Q: Where are the moderate Republicans in Congress when it comes to a vote to help their constituents?

A: They’re not receiving enough calls from their own constituents. We’ll see how they respond to the Senate Trumpcare bill. We have to not give up the good fight and reaching out where we can actually make a difference. 

In House races here, in the upcoming gubernatorial race next year in Illinois, state legislative races, and in all Senate races everywhere, we have to challenge incumbents. We have to do this with more than just candidates but with messages and policies that resonate with regular folks.

We can’t control what others do, but we can make a good faith effort at reaching out to them. Relentlessness without exhaustion, attachment, and expectation is difficult to make a personal reality. It happens to be a survival strategy in political discourse, advocacy, and activism, in my experience.

Q: Conservatives are ideologues. Their relationship with and the part Christianity plays in their lives influences everything including their support for an authoritarian figure in charge. You cannot ignore that and simply focus on economic issues and think you will change their minds. It is so powerful that it has caused people to vote against their own economic interests for years.

A: I’ll never say to ignore any aspect of voters’ lives. However, ignoring these voters and these areas completely is repeating a mistake and expecting a different result. The idea that people are voting for the GOP and against their best economic interests is somehow due to Christianity is overly simplistic.

Democrats haven’t been running in most of these areas, locally, state, or in federal races, for a long time. Democrats abdicated these to the GOP long ago when manufacturers beat down Unions and jobs began to decline. That mistake must be rectified.

Believe it or not, most people aren’t mean-spirited Christians. They want to do good for others and their communities. Democrats just haven’t focused on messages that relate to these voters in a way that is meaningful.

Seeing these voters as monolithic is an error of judgment I won’t be making. If I saw them that way, I wouldn’t bother to run to make a difference here.

It’s also a mistake to believe you’re going to change people’s minds. Politics is about broadening your message so that it relates to voters and their communities, not the other way around. This is never more true than in these deeply entrenched districts that have been held by one party or another for decades.

These voters naturally distrust politicians of any stripe or creed. They trust what they know or what they’ve known. Breaking through is not a simple process. It takes time, diligence, and relentless perseverance. Repeated contacts, openness to questions and concerns, and always listening and relating back to core principles and messages that matter to people.

I look forward to more of your questions as I continue to put my campaign together. Pleased to so much energy and inspiration out in the district, state, and country.

Keep up the good fight!

Energized and Refocused after GA Loss

There’s much to learn from the special election loss in Georgia tonight. For being the most expensive House of Representative race in history, it ended up being about a 5-point race.

Money can’t buy an election. Neither can anger and outrage for Donald Trump.

Many Democrats and Progressives across the country are rightly disappointed.

I’m energized by all the great candidates I’ve been meeting around Illinois as they begin to set up their campaigns. I also remain hopeful for what beneficial change can take place for the American people. We need only have the courage and the will to choose something different.

As Democrats, most of us do this for the people, not the well connected. We’re also a big tent party. Sometimes, we lose that amazing sense of togetherness for bringing regular people together. We don’t have to be one issue, one candidate voters. We should be about making a difference for regular people. 

It seems obvious to me as I meet voters everywhere I go, and from seeing the results tonight and from last November, that there is so much more that we need to do to reach out in rural districts and areas. We have to do better at connecting to voters where and as they are.

We can’t make demands of the people. They should be making demands of us. 

Otherwise, the American people will continue to be underserved in Congress. And, the American people deserve more affordable healthcare, better paying jobs, more dependable services, safer communities, and the best education in the world. For many baby boomers and members of the greatest generation, these are distant memories. For others, these are dreams or highly unrealistic goals.

The 15th Congressional District of Illinois has been underserved for far too long.

Our representative has been in Congress for 22 years and doesn’t even bother meeting voters in town halls or responding directly to their concerns raised in traveling help desks.

That has to change. We have to demand better because we deserve better. 

 

Solidarity after Alexandria Shooting


The Alexandria, Virginia Congressional shooting shines a spotlight on the intersection of mental health treatment, access to healthcare, extreme political rhetoric, and an absence of common ground approaches in government, in the media, and in public discourse.

Anyone capable of opening fire on unarmed people is violent, unhinged, and in need of treatment. This is why access to treatment, specifically mental health treatment, is so critical to protect, expand, and reinforce. The current healthcare bills rolling through Congress gut mental health treatment and access to health care insurance for those most at risk. This is absolutely unacceptable.

Mostly, I believe members of Congress are feeling pressured to pass Trumpcare, despite its known negative impacts on the health and wellbeing of their constituents. It would skyrocket premiums and deductibles for the sick and the elderly. These are the citizens least able to pay for those extreme increases.

This most recent wave of violence is predicated on decades of extreme rhetoric from both ideological extremes. This is how we end up with homegrown lone wolf extremists who go on shooting sprees. Last week it was Oregon on the far right. This week it was Alexandria on the far left.

We have to do better. After such a contentious presidential campaign in 2016, we need to be better communicators. I know I strive to do so everyday. I know I must do better. So must we all.

Yes, there are real threats to our democracy, to our voting and election systems, to healthcare, to our troops and allies abroad, and much more. We, however, cannot resort to violence and increased incendiary language. We most definitely can’t use these events as political weapons to further an ideological agenda.

It is ironic that when a right wing, white supremacist is the lone wolf, there’s little outcry from the right of coming together and resolving our differences peacefully.

It was welcome to see Bernie Sanders so quickly make such a strong public statement against the shooter, who had volunteered on his campaign. As this story continues to unfold, I’m certain many questions about motives will become more clear.

Also, Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi were in a rare moment of solidarity. We need more of that in this country and in our communities.

We need to hold our representatives & senators in Congress as well as the President accountable. We do that at the ballot box. We don’t beat people up or shoot people because we disagree with them or their politics. 

We all can come together around the set of common principles of vigilance, perseverance, and justice. Those principles happen to be what some of the stripes of our American Flag symbolize.

Fracking on the New Madrid Seismic Zone a No Go

If you haven’t heard, a company is trying to obtain a fracking permit in White County. That’s extremely close to the New Madrid fault line. If you don’t know about the history of the New Madrid Seismic Zone, it’s 150 miles long and has been home to four of the largest earthquakes in the history of North America.

 

If that doesn’t concern you, you better research the history. The 1811-1812 earthquake cluster is historic. One of these earthquakes sent the Mississippi River upstream.

 

 Image result for new madrid seismic zone images

 

We cannot afford to set this fault line off by human activity.

 

Public comments against this permit are only allowed through June 27th. This is more important than any Russian investigation.

 

This is about safety, security, the economy, lives, and our children’s futures.

 

Check out this news report from The Southern. This is serious.
“The application has been assigned a review number of HVHHF-000001. The well to be known as Woodrow No. 1H-310408-193 is proposed to be permitted for the production of gas, located just north of Enfield in White County, Illinois.”

 

If you wish to submit a comment, you must do so by 5:00 PM, June 27th.

 

“Citizens wishing to enter a comment should mail correspondence to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Attention: Oil and Gas Regulatory Staff, 1 Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702, or email them at DNR.HFPublicComments@illinois.gov.”  You must use the review number above in your email or in any correspondence.

 

You may not agree with climate change science, global warming, or much else. We all know earthquakes happen. Most of our small communities are not prepared for a medium intensity earthquake, let alone one that is over 8 on the Richter Scale.

 

Here are the addresses and links again.

 

Hearing Officer Oil and Gas Regulatory Staff Illinois Department of Natural Resources Office of Legal Counsel, Attention: HF Hearing Officer Daniel Schuering, 1 Natural Resources Way Springfield, IL 62702
or email DNR.HFHearingRequest@illinois.gov.
Department of Natural Resources, Attention: Oil and Gas Regulatory Staff, 1 Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702
or email DNR.HFHearingRequest@illinois.gov.
Woolsey Operating Co. LLC, HVHHF Registration Number HVHHF-00003, 125 N. Market St., Suite 1000, Wichita, KS 67202
e-mail: woolsey@woolsyco.com

Focus on Lack of Results, Not Russia

All we see and hear these days from the mainstream media, from pundits, and from too many on social media is constant speculation and incessant leaks about the Russia investigation. This includes ties and potential collusion between President Trump’s campaign and transition team.

It’s a bit much. Most regular people don’t have much tangible connection to these leaks and the investigation. What these people are desperate to see from government and politicians are real results for their families, their livelihoods, and their communities. Those results have not happened for many since the inauguration, unless, of course, you happen to be a special interest group or in the administrative class of big business.

Most hardworking Americans haven’t had a reasonable raise in a very long time. That’s a massive issue, not just for putting food on tables and paying bills, but for small businesses trying to make a profit and reinvest in their communities, businesses, and payrolls.

Americans want better paying jobs. They deserve better opportunities for opening and maintaining their own small businesses. They’re not looking for a hand out, as some enjoy characterizing any effort to increase wages and jobs.

There’s nothing wrong with being successful. Success simply shouldn’t remain out of reach for hardworking people. Those with special access to politicians and those in big business who can dictate terms to others cannot be the only people that pull in the big bucks.

How many times do we have to be suckers for trickle down economics before we say enough is enough? We deserve so much better from our elected officials and from our government. It begins with expecting better from ourselves, and that means holding our elected officials accountable for an obvious lack of results.

Some want to say government should get out of the way. We’ve tried that. The result is that the economy implodes, jobs are shipped overseas, and wages stagnate for a generation. It’s about time we do something different.

I suggest focusing on the economy, on communities, on families and a complete lack of any tangible results from this Congress and this President. These Russian investigations are going to continue to develop without the continued obsession by so many. These Russian investigations aren’t going to raise anyone’s wages nor create any jobs for regular Americans.

Enough is enough.