A New Year, A New Direction

2017 was a year of tremendous change for our country. For many, that change was concerning. For others, there were signs that their voices were finally being heard.

So many of us have responded to this change by standing up and doing something about the problems our families, our communities, our state, and our country face.

I’ve been so blessed to have listened and got to know so many great people on the campaign trail throughout the 15th District. Too many communities and families are struggling and have been for far too long.

I see so many hard working and good people that deserve to have someone fight for them every single day. And, as we’ve all witnessed throughout the last year, there is the potential for tremendous change.

As the drivers of the change we deserve,

we can lift our families and communities up.

We can only do that together. 

I appreciate each and every person and look forward to even more conversations as we approach the primary on March 20th.

There are many ways to get involved. Check out our campaign schedule on the campaign website. Every contribution matters. Every phone call and conversation you have with others makes a difference. Keep up the good work!

Together we can move the 15th District in a better direction.

Happy New Year!

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Ending Net Neutrality

What does the end of Net Neutrality mean to you?

The claim by the administration is that it will lead to greater competition. I think we’ve all heard this mantra a bit too often to buy it so quickly.

Saying greater competition equals lower prices is cheap when regulations, fees, and other special loopholes squeeze out small businesses and allow big companies to gobble them all up, leaving less competition.

Under the Obama net neutrality protections there was a leveling of the playing field for consumers. We didn’t get screwed as much by providers. Also, municipalities like Chattanooga could make the best choice for their cities and create their own broadband access. So, this lack of competition argument rings hollow.

With the ending of net neutrality, providers can make consumers pay for faster speeds. They can limit what sites we have access to unless we pay more.

Many of us see the inherent problems this creates. 

It’s actually the same dilemma workers often face when negotiating with the boss, which is why collective bargaining is such a crucial right for workers. Individually, they have little power.

Together, we have much more influence and power

to negotiate a better deal for ourselves.

When we consider how this will impact schools, healthcare, ordering of supplies, applying for jobs online, the picture becomes even more complex.

There are reasons why consumers see rises in both their prices and the profits of these companies. We have few mechanisms afforded to us to protect us from the decisions of companies and government.

One of those mechanisms was just taken away.

What Makes Me Different

As I’ve traveled across the district, voters often share with me their concerns about electing another politician. ‘What good will it do? How will it change anything? What makes you different? Both parties are to blame.’

I’m not one to blame our problems on one person or one party.
I also don’t believe that one solution will solve any of it.
Throughout much of my life, when I see a problem I do something about it.
I don’t complain, I get to work instead. 

When I was in high school in my hometown of Sullivan, the elementary school where I was taught was in disrepair. With a classmate, I wrote a six-page exposé about the issues, the costs, and the solutions, one of which would be to pass a referendum to build a new elementary school. This was so well received that it was reprinted and sent to every registered voter in the district. The referendum passed, the school was built, and many of my relatives were students there.

This is just an example of how I don’t just talk about problems, I find solutions for them and work with others to achieve results. 

It’s absolutely accurate that both parties play the blame game. This has created a situation where the status quo is maintained.  The vast majority of Americans have been left behind.

Downstate Illinoisans have been left behind by both parties. Rarely has the Democratic Party even offered alternatives to Republicans and that has allowed Republicans to not have to work for the People that elect them to their positions.

I’m different from most of these politicians because I’ve lived through struggles and know how it is to be left behind, how it is to need services, and how it is for those services to not live up to the needs of the people. I’ve also fought to protect programs and strengthen services throughout my career.

I’ve seen bureaucrats make cavalier decisions that negatively impact people’s lives without much of a thought. I stood in the way of those decisions many times. When I was not there, those decisions became a reality and people I know died.

That’s what makes me different. I know the costs of failure are real.

We can’t just have a solution and think that’s good enough. We have to keep fighting to make life better for people, for all people. Often, a solution seems great at the beginning but in its implementation it isn’t all its cracked up to be. That’s why competent public officials check in on the results and ensure the programs and services are working as intended and fix any unintended consequences.

That’s what makes me different in this campaign and why I ask for your support in this vital primary. Our futures are on the line. It takes someone who knows what’s at stake in order to fight for the people of this great district in the way in which they deserve.

The Reality of the Shimkus Tax Plan

Our current over two-decade incumbent Representative John Shimkus is now sitting on the House-Senate conference committee responsible with hammering out the final tax reform bill to be sent to the White House to become the law of the land. (Source: The Hill)

If his rhetoric online and in public is any indication, this bill will be as bad or worse than what was passed in either the House or the Senate. He often talks about the median when discussing the tax bill and how it will benefit taxpayers in the 15th District.

The unfortunate reality for the 50% under the median is that they will be hurt by this tax bill. That’s what happens when you focus on one point along a continuum in order to obscure the massive tax cuts for the top 50% and permanent corporate tax cuts that we all know won’t be used to increase wages but be given to stockholders instead.

Also, these tax cuts he gloats about expire for low income earners. The cuts for corporations, the ones that will increase the debt by trillions, do not.

Those corporate welfare cuts are massive in scale compared to the shortchange being thrown at hardworking citizens in our district. 

What we really need in the form of tax reform are targeted tax cuts that will raise wages, not just a massive corporate give away and hope it magically happens. I know I’m extremely tired of hoping people do the right thing, especially our representatives in Congress.

What’s also missing from the Shimkus tax proposal are the massive cuts to Social Security and Medicare that many within the Republican Party have already mentioned as being the next steps in this plan to transform our country.

Our seniors are already hurting enough the way it is. They don’t need further cuts.

They need more money every month to pay their ever increasing bills.

It’s painful to have to choose between medication or food.

Also missing from this discussion is the assault on healthcare. As much as I and anyone else find faults with Obamacare, what the Shimkus plan does will further increase premiums and deductibles and decrease choices for citizens within our district.

We need real relief from the high cost of healthcare, not an all out assault to increase costs for people.

So, the net gains will actually be a net loss for most citizens within the 15th District.

Oh wait, we’re missing the worst part of the tax bill. In the State of Illinois, we have one of the highest property tax burdens in America. Rep. Shimkus is planning to take away the ability of small businesses and families to deduct those high property taxes.

So, there are ZERO gains from this bill for the citizens of the 15th District, only losses.

The winners are just for campaign contributors, and, ultimately, for the campaign reelection fund.

Enough is Enough.

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Say Never to Privatization of VA

Privatization of the VA means less accountability, less ability to do anything about problems, and less results for veterans.

Putting business in charge of veterans healthcare will result in less healthcare. In Indiana, privatization of Medicaid was a disaster for enrollees, and that was under Governor Daniels, not Mike Pence. They had to reverse course there, and we shouldn’t even consider doing this to veterans.

What we should do is the following:

  • continue repairing the damage of decades of denial and decay
  • have representatives show up and hold the VA accountable in hearings
  • have representatives show up in their districts by listening to veterans and the groups that serve them
  • increase assistance to hard hit areas like Danville and Vermilion County
  • open VA sites within community health providers where VAs hospitals don’t exist
  • make the pipeline bigger for people going into healthcare specialties
    • increase grants and scholarships for students
    • increase money to colleges and universities
    • increase faculty and staff that educate and train these specialties
  • actually stabilize funding for Medicaid, Medicare, and local healthcare providers instead of starving them of resources.

I’m talking neurology, psychiatry, LCSWs, etc. etc. There are so many communities that have no access to too many of these specialties or have waiting lists that are excruciatingly long.

The GOP healthcare and tax plans are in exactly the opposite direction of where we should be heading as a country on all of these issues.

The GOP healthcare plan cuts healthcare for veterans, Medicaid, and Medicare. 

The GOP tax plan raises taxes on students receiving tuition waivers. 

All of this to give the wealthiest, a massive tax break. To give corporations a massive tax cut when 1 out of 5 of them don’t even pay taxes currently. Lowering the corporate tax rate will allow even more corporate welfare in order to gut more services for veterans.

This is not how you run the healthcare of those who have served and defended our country.

You Serve. You Deserve.

I will stand up to this backward thinking, campaign donor giveaways that hurt our veterans.

(Photo Courtesy of Greg Nash, The Hill)

 

Allegations, Realities, and Standing Up

These allegations and realities from the past and present are as disturbing as they are common. We have to do better.

We have to stand up for others so more can stand up for themselves. It’s not easy, it’s not simple, but it is a necessity.

It’s vital for us all to learn and grow from this period of exposure so that we can move forward as a stronger society that respects one another.

Really listening to one another and really paying attention to others can really go a long way toward protecting and fostering a better community.

None of us are perfect people. We can’t go back in time and rewrite history.

What we can do is acknowledge past wrongs, learn from our mistakes, and strive to do better. 

There are legal lines that are too often crossed and nothing is reported. Statutes of limitations make it more difficult for many victims to ever hold their abusers accountable.

What we can do is to take the politics out of the equation, focus on the facts, and respect one another without ignoring the reality staring us in the face.

Some people are open to investigations being done to ascertain the veracity of claims and the extent of the damage done. That matters. 

Openness isn’t a blank check. Openness can be the beginning of a conversation that can lead to healing and greater understanding. I think we can at least start there.

Infrastructure: All of the Above

I wanted to share a Letter to the Editor regarding a crucial economic and safety issue throughout the 15th District. If we don’t invest in infrastructure instead of just talking about it, we’re going to be struggling in new ways. I think we’ve struggled enough.

  • Infrastructure means protecting our water from lead, which is being found in some schools’ drinking water. 
  • It also means funding to fix the problem. 

 

  • Infrastructure means diversifying our energy economy by creating and protecting jobs in all sectors. 
  • It also means investing in renewables, like solar, wind, and biofuels.

 

  • Infrastructure means actually funding roads and bridges instead of just making more excuses as to why we can’t.
  • We don’t need ever increasing costs of wear and tear on vehicles due to inadequately funded roads.

 

  • Infrastructure means extending trails, protecting parks, lakes, and other destinations with real resources that drive tourism and new revenue throughout the area.
  • We should be a tourist haven for people from upstate, Chicago, and every state in the Midwest. 

 

  • Infrastructure means funding education, from pre-K through higher education, helping to stop the brain drain and keep jobs and families right here in downstate Illinois.
  • Resources earlier mean less wasted money later as the majority of brain development occurs before the age of 5.

 

  • Infrastructure means telecommunications and broadband.
  • The lack of broadband access in many rural areas limits economic and educational opportunities. This will create jobs, both in the short term and the long term.

 

  • Infrastructure means investing in freight and rail.
  • Freight and commuter rail needs an overhaul helping to bring tourists into our region for both tourism and business. We should be building rail and railcars here.

The costs of rebuilding America are high.

The costs of doing nothing are much higher. 

I will fight to rebuild this District on every level and on every day. We can only do this together and by creating jobs, in the present and for the future.

Are you with me? Are you with the people of the 15th District?

JOIN US!