Jobs and the economy
My grandfather told me from an early age, “A man loses more than just a paycheck when he loses his job … It’s honest work that keeps us strong, not just on the job but at home too.” My priority will be going to work on day one to fight tooth and nail to bring back the jobs we have lost, introduce legislation to support the small and rural business owner, and promote and support our district’s vast infrastructure and commercial opportunities. I watched my father lose his job at Hillsboro Glass, and grew up watching my mother and stepfather work two and three jobs apiece to get by. Their story isn’t unique. Our district loses more than just a job each time a plant closes, a powerhouse folds, or a coal mine shuts its gates. It’s time we have a leader in the House who knows the value of pouring concrete on Route 16 and the importance of earning a decent wage for an honest day’s work. I vow to place economic renewal and expanding job opportunities in our district at the forefront of all my actions.
The grandson of a Korean War draftee, and the son of a Vietnam veteran who left Montgomery County at the age of 17, I have proudly worn the uniform of our nation’s Army since 2006. Whether it’s been in the Illinois National Guard, active duty Army, or the Reserves, I’ve had the opportunity to serve this country and the men and women who keep it safe for quite some time now. So it’s with no light talk that I say veterans’ rights and veterans’ issues are near and dear to my heart. Funding and expanding our county VA programs, as well as supporting the WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, Cold War-era, and First Gulf War veteran with as much care and concern as my fellow Afghanistan, Iraq, and Global War on Terror veterans is something I have committed my life to. It’s time we do more than offer lip service and handshakes for the men and women who wrote a blank check to this country and our way of life. I vow to put our veterans’ interests first, and serve our veteran population with the same unyielding commitment that I have given to each soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine that I have either led, walked beside, or served since the first day I put on the uniform.
Any accomplishment I have made would have never been possible without the commitment, dedication, and unwavering resolve of homeroom teachers, baseball coaches, rough junior high math lessons, and straight-talking shop class instructors. Rural education and educators remain the bedrock of our communities. I promise to work hand-in-hand with teachers and administrators to find new ways to avoid stagnant wages and program cuts.
Furthering legislation that supports our small elementary schools and cash-strapped high schools remains at the forefront of my leadership platform. We must continue to rethink our state standards. We must aggressively promote funding our curriculums without giving kickbacks to testing companies. We must increase funding for not just teachers but staff, social workers, counselors, nurses, and student resource officers as well. An education, whether it be through a vocational school, apprentice program, or traditional four-year path, should never be out of reach for any of our children, and neither should fully supporting those who teach them.
Agriculture is truly the heartbeat of where we come from. It surrounds us. It frames our very way of life. It reminds us of how close we are to our environment, and how hard we have to work to stay ahead. Supporting our local farmers, defending their next generation, and making sure the family farm does not become a thing of the past is a top concern. We cannot ignore the constant hardships that our local farmers face, and we deserve a leader in the General Assembly who will place advances in agribusiness on the same level of family farms just trying to make it through one more season. It’s the field rows and milking barns that feed and nourish our nation, and no leader should ever compromise the future of farming over the interests of big business.
Conservation and the environment
The backwoods, creeks and ponds, field rows, and valleys I grew up hunting remain one of our most precious assets. I learned true sportsmanship and the value of a straight shot on cold November mornings with my father, mother, and their friends as we walked into those woods and across those frozen plains that make up the countryside of our district. Preserving our parks, keeping our lakes clean, practicing common sense conservation efforts, and making sure future generations have the same opportunity to hunt morels in the spring and hear tall tales and learn life lessons from their grandparents during the fall hunting season are priorities for me. We cannot take our soil, streams, and land management for granted. Defending sportsmen’s rights while still protecting our environment is a commitment I will make on day one. Sportsmanship, and our environment, must be defended at all costs.
I believe no American should have to choose between paying their medical bills or paying their utility bills. No person in our district should have to worry about whether or not they are going to have enough money for their prescriptions or their gas bills. I vow to push legislation to drive down the costs of prescription medications.
Rural healthcare is complex and demanding, but there is no excuse for scarce mental health and behavioral health resources in our district. Introducing legislation to bring psychiatrists and psychologists to be in house and on staff at each rural hospital will be an effort of mine.
Our local hospitals do incredible work — saving lives, progressing research, and doing more with less every day. This is an undeniable fact. I believe leadership in the General Assembly should be doing the same for our local hospitals and healthcare workers. Tackling the tough question of healthcare is what our representatives are supposed to be doing day in and day out until a solution is found. Supporting rural healthcare systems while still finding a way to create affordable, accessible healthcare options can’t be out of reach. I promise to put the interests, and literal health, of our communities first on the floor of our capitol building.