Unemployment is at a 50-year low and economic growth is steady. Assess the state of the economy and tell us how you would improve economic prospects for Americans.

Our unemployment might be low, but the 15th District is losing jobs everywhere. Honeywell in Metropolis shuttered and Rep. Shinkus did nothing. LSC in Mattoon is closing this summer and GSI is closing in Flora, neither of which had anything to do with the Illinois economy.

Wages are only increasing because of the minimum wage, which is welcomed by workers but the economic benefits for the economy won’t be felt for some time.

The Republicans only economic agenda remains the same, massive tax cuts for the donor class with no guarantees for workers, no guarantees for wages, no guarantees for benefits and no guarantees for investments in American brick and mortar and our communities’ infrastructure. #Gaither15IL

We have to connect any tax cuts to gains for our economy. Watching stockholders take home all the tax cuts every year while American workers work longer hours and more jobs is unacceptable and has drained the American Dream of hope and joy. #Gaither15IL

Why should voters nominate you and not your opponents?

Consistently, I have shown up, stood up and spoken out on our rural issues. When I hear a problem, I don’t just give it lip service, I do something about it. 

As a primary candidate, I had visited the Rosiclare Public Library many times. It was the only place for children to come to after school. Sometimes, it was the last place they’ll have access to food before school the next day. When the librarian informed me their roof was leaking and they may have to close, I asked tougher questions. 

They had not received a vital check from the state. Immediately after leaving, I made a phone call. In a week, the librarian had a check in her hand because Comptroller Mendoza’s office acted so quickly. 

I bring that hands-on approach to every issue.

I have a hands-on approach to healthcare from years working on federal boards and in the field. I got involved in healthcare because people’s lives were on the line. Healthcare professionals and consumers elected me to leadership positions because I had led the charge against decisions the government was making that would have adversely affected Americans. That’s what you can continue to expect from me today.

Watching our small farms continue to die while big farms have cashed in on the largest portion of the Trump bailouts is unacceptable. I remember getting my own hands dirty weeding beans in the 80s on my grandfather’s farm. We must have a strategic vision for our agriculture sector that brings more trade and job-creating opportunities for our farmers instead of relying on bailouts. 

Our energy sector is as diverse as our district. Investing in all of our workers and green energy while protecting both our energy diversity and the environment are all crucial. 

I offer a hands-on approach, one where I will listen and work with our local communities, to connect resources with jobs to move our district forward. #Gaither15IL

A Pro-Growth Investment in the Future of Sullivan

There are rumors that Titus Manor, after being purchased by the City of Sullivan, will be tore down, as well as the Civic Center, to be replaced by a larger, better facility. 

The Civic Center should have been replaced a decade or more ago. Titus Manor, although a historic building, has serious issues after being the home of hundreds and hundreds of our seniors over 50 years. In fact, the estimated cost to taxpayers to fix the Manor are upwards of $1 million dollars.

I do know that multiple permanent fixes were made to the Civic Center over the last few decades, and multiple contractors had the opportunity to finish the job. None of those permanent fixes were really permanent, as so many of us know. To fix the problems at the Civic Center as it is today are upwards of millions as well.

Over this last winter, the Civic Center facility was basically shutdown due to a broken boiler because there were no parts available because it was so old. The water was warmer than the air, I heard.

Simply put, we need new facilities in Sullivan, for our changing population, for our changing economy and for our changing needs. Seniors, retirees, veterans, and those living with chronic illnesses utilize both spaces, which is also why it is so difficult to even begin having this type of conversation, let alone start developing plans for the future of our community.

These spaces and facilities could work much better for all of the people that utilized them before while being an even better resource for our children and their children after they decide to remain in Sullivan after graduation.

If this complex is designed with larger community and economic set of attainable goals in mind, it can:

  • Help lure new business to the area.
  • Provide better opportunities for current small businesses to flourish.
  • Create a better environment for new small business start ups.
  • Grow families from children that decide to stay in Sullivan.
  • Bring in new families that want to become part of the Sullivan community and call this area home.

Immediately after hearing this idea, I see real opportunities to house specific agencies there, like Central Illinois Public Transit. This is a lifeline for so many residents in Sullivan. I used it myself when I first moved back to town, especially during the winter months.

Connecting the facility to The Little Theatre on the Square only makes sense. We have theatre education and dance classes already happening on the square. Being a bridge between our public schools and the community, I could see this facility playing an essential role. 

Collaboration helps build more opportunities. And, let’s face it, Sullivan needs more opportunities, for the town and definitely for our children.

With pro-active, forward-leaning leadership in both Washington and Springfield, there could be real linkages to federal and state monies and resources to decrease the cost to Moultrie County taxpayers while providing more opportunities for local, reputable contractors, high school students and workers wanting to learn the trades. 

If we’re going to rebuild our country, why not start in Sullivan?

That’s why the community has a robust Sullivan Area Chamber, which has inspired the Sullivan Spark initiative. I think we’re ready for this. I know we’re ready for this.

Sullivan is missing a U of I Extension Office, which provides ag education and other training throughout Illinois. Offices are currently offering new resources in industrial hemp education and training

I would love to see EIU and Lakeland get their foot in here as well. The EIU dual credit program offers students real opportunities to get their foot in the door of the university experience. Lakeland offers CNA, nursing and skilled training and trades coursework and certifications. 

Why would we not offer these two blocks from our high schools, connecting students directly to better paying jobs and careers when they get their high school diplomas, if not before?

My dream should be the reality, where motivated students walk down the aisle, pick up their diploma, and attached to it is CNA license or an apprenticeship. 

These are ideas that will make Sullivan and other towns growing, thriving communities where children graduate, stay, buy a house, and later on build a house. We would all be better for it when we invest in each other.

Let’s think about what Sullivan needs to make life better for those who are here and for those who are growing up here as well. We need to make it even better for those who are children so that we give them reasons to plant root and seed here. That is how communities grow again.

Rural America is my home. Sullivan is my hometown. I deeply cherish my upbringing, our culture, and see brighter, more productive, more prosperous days ahead. We need only invest in that future to make it a reality.

We won’t get there by doing the same things and expecting different results. 

On Tariffs and Trade

I’m all for a reinvigorated American-based steel industry. We need these jobs to come back to America. Our Union workers do a better job and our environmental standards have decreased emissions dramatically. Chinese steel doesn’t abide by such restrictions.

My response to any of these knee-jerk tweet and administrate actions is to remain cautious, keeping watch on actual implementation.

Certainly, this will increase the price of steel and aluminum. It will also increase the prices of anything made from both. Not only does that increase inflation risks but it could lead to layoffs in the manufacturing sector.

I discussed these very concerns with a machinist in Bond County last night.

These hard working Americans haven’t received wage increases in years and this will make certain they won’t for the longterm. 

Trade is vital. Making certain our trade policy is targeted in the best way to protect American jobs, grow good paying jobs, and increase wages is vital. These tariffs were not crafted with precision and a strategy to protect American workers.

Congress too often chooses to sit on the sidelines of trade, giving fast track authority to the White House.

We need to elect representatives that listen to workers, stand up for workers’ rights, and start doing their jobs. The people deserve nothing less than that. 

Immigration and Economic Insecurity

Last night I had a conversation with a woman at a charitable fundraiser. She was very upset about illegal immigration, even to the point of sending repeated letters and emails to President Trump about his new positions on the issue. She’s mad at him too. Her husband has been a dedicated union worker for decades.

We talked for quite awhile.

The anger and anxiety that people feel about this issue is tangible.

I’ve heard these similar comments across the district. Some Democratic and independent voters believe that the Party only stands for illegal immigration and not for workers. That’s a huge concern for me as candidate, as I’m dedicated to making a difference for all of our residents.

This is about depressed wages,

fewer opportunities for Union workers, and

lack of fairness for taxpayers. 

She’s a mother. That’s when I realized something that resonates with me about why I’m in the race.

I’m fighting like hell to help the citizens of this district, no matter the personal cost.

Just like this mother is fighting for her family’s future,

these families are fighting for the future of their children.

That’s why they fled their countries that are steeped in violence and upheaval for what they saw as the only place that could give their children an opportunity to survive their childhood. That place is America.

I saw the lightbulb go off in this woman’s mind. It was one of those ah-ha moments.

We have to rethink how we discuss these issues with those who think we disagree with them.

This is all about the deep economic insecurities that so many of us have felt for decades, just as many are now responding to the deep insecurities regarding gun violence in our own schools.

We have to realize that everyone is fighting for their future, for the future of their family, and the future of their community. 

Failure is not an option.

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!