Key Issues that Affect the 93rd District
We have an economic system that makes life harder for those who work hard to make ends meet. We need to find ways for the rich to pay their fair share of the costs of government, and put more money in the pockets of everyday working people.
In West Central Illinois, jobs in factories and on farms have been disappearing for decades. These trends are likely to continue in the future as more jobs are lost to automation, especially in transportation and agriculture. Here is what we need to do:
- Support Local Businesses and invest in entrepreneurship. Small, family-owned businesses are the heart of our local economies and need to be protected and encouraged.
- Fair wages – There are people in West Central Illinois working two or more jobs who are still living near the poverty line. We need to raise the minimum wage, recognize the concerns of small businesses, and make sure that our first amendment right to organize for fair wages and safe working conditions is protected.
- Protect Working Families by keeping costs reasonable for childcare, healthcare and education, and by keeping taxes low for everyday working people. In almost all of the counties in our district, the child poverty rate is significantly above the state average; this needs to change.
- Homestead Farming and Food Production – The most important natural resource in West Central Illinois is our good farm ground. We should be raising more of our own food and growing the number of food based businesses in our region. We should also be looking at a wide variety of alternative crops for commodity production.
Our #1 priority as Illinois adults and taxpayers should be to provide a quality education for all children in Illinois. Unfortunately, our schools have been damaged by years of inadequate and irregular funding, and an overreliance on property taxes.
- Fairly Fund K-12 – Schools in the 93rd district, on average, spend $3,000 less per student than the state average. Clearly, this needs to change. We need to fund education in such a way that all Illinois students have the resources they need to thrive.
- Restore Funding to Higher Education – Funding cuts are pushing our sons and daughters to other states for higher education or out of college altogether; 45% of Illinois high school grads attending 4-year schools are going out-of-state to school. We need to fully fund Illinois MAP grants that help students pay for college, and restore funding to community colleges and state universities.
- Pre-K – Research shows that children benefit from starting school at the age of 3. This early start leads to higher rates of high school graduation and lower prison rates. Early childhood education is a sound investment that we need to make.
Illinois government is a mess. In Illinois, we are on the edge of a budgetary cliff and there are no easy answers. In the past three years our backlog of unpaid bills grew to over $16 Billion. Responsible governments pay their bills!
- Balanced Budgets – The Illinois constitution reads, “Appropriations for a fiscal year shall not exceed funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year.” We need to follow that law every year.
- Root Out Waste and Corruption – Illinois suffers from a terrible reputation when it comes to waste and corruption in government. We have to ruthlessly weed it out wherever it exists.
- Support for Social Services – Key social services for vulnerable populations such as seniors, children and the disabled need to be maintained and funded.
- Long-Term Plan –Decades of irresponsible leadership on both sides of the aisle have created a terrible financial situation for our state. We need to have a long-term dedicated plan to dig ourselves out.
FAMILY – I have been with my wife and partner, Karen for 25 years. Together we’ve raised three independent, smart, good-hearted kids.
FARMER & SMALL BUSINESS OWNER – Karen and I own and manage Barefoot Gardens CSA; a vegetable farming operation that provides fresh produce and flowers to about 150 people in our community. We raise vegetables, flowers and berries using hand tools and traditional methods (without chemical pesticides or fertilizers). I love working with my hands outdoors and on the landscape as my grandfather and my ancestors did.
TEACHER – I love working with students! I think a quality education is the most important thing that we can offer our kids and young adults. I taught junior and senior high school at Beardstown and VIT. I also taught adult GED classes at Spoon River and Carl Sandburg Community Colleges, and for the last few years I’ve been teaching at Western Illinois University where I earned my Master’s Degree in Education in 2000.
OUTDOORSMAN – I grew up hunting and fishing with my Dad, Grandpa, brothers and friends. As a young man, I did wilderness survival trainings and became interested in sustainable farming and forestry. I continue to learn as much as I can about the animals, plants and history of the land that surrounds us. Morel season is my favorite time to be in the woods.
COMMUNITY SERVICE – I served in the Peace Corps, in the Dominican Republic, for two years. It was there that I first got interested building and improving communities, local food and small-scale farming. More recently, I served as president and board member of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance advocating for local food and sustainable farm systems. Over the years, I’ve coached my kids’ soccer, baseball and basketball teams and have served as board president for my church.