1.) What is the importance of the US Congress to residents of Champaign County?
Champaign County residents know that Congress is important to them because they’ve had a lack of representation for the last decade with Reps Davis and Shimkus.
Federal programs like Head Start, housing and food programs, and financial aid for college and university only scratch the surface of the vital services and resources that Congress allocates for Champaign County.
Illinois Republicans often show up for ribbon cutting ceremonies and photo-ops for programs they voted against.
Imagine a representative that is working hand-in-hand with local leaders to make all of these programs and services work better for residents of Champaign County, fill the gaps that exist and find new, innovative approaches to reach those residents that have mobility issues.
Veterans need a stronger voice in D.C., as do seniors. Educators and workers deserve higher wages and opportunities to earn their way into the Middle Class. Small businesses and farmers want trading partners, not tariffs and Tweets.
With a true leader who understands the complexities of our diverse economy and district, we all can do better, enjoy life a bit more and get back to living the American Dream I grew up believing was possible to achieve.
2.) Why are you qualified to be a member of the US Congress?
I will bring a Ground Up approach to Congress that has been sorely lacking for many years. Too often, the policy label becomes the focus and the policy objective is lost before legislation is drafted let alone passed and signed into law.
I make it a top priority to understand the nuts and bolts of policy and how it impacts real people where they live and how they live. A legislator has to be willing, able and available to their constituents to find out what’s really happening.
While living in Indiana, I was elected to serve on federally mandated healthcare advisory boards that helped to guide the Indiana State Department of Health to make decisions about the health and wellbeing of the most vulnerable Hoosiers. Due to my strong voice and successful efforts coalescing support, I stopped ISDH from making mistakes regarding drug formularies, resource allocation and other critical parts of the healthcare system. This led to my election to Vice Chair of the Comprehensive HIV Services Planning Advisory Council.
I not only understand how healthcare policy works, I have a deep and emotional connection to the negative consequences to real people when bureaucrats make cavalier and callous decisions based on religion and not on medicine and science. Someone I loved lost their life because they could not access medication in time because Governor Mike Pence and Indiana Republicans gutted all of the programs and services that I had fought so hard to protect and strengthen before moving back to Illinois.
3.) If elected, what is something you want to accomplish as a Member of Congress, and how long will it take?
We have a real opportunity to change the direction of rural America. We need a national infrastructure plan with a substantial investment in education and training programs, creating higher paying jobs in the trades. Part of this plan must be a large green energy investment in upgrading all federal, state and local government facilities, not only creating jobs but making America more energy efficient for the next generation. Infrastructure is the easiest lift in these proposals.
A renewed investment in our waterways is essential to provide a foundation for a growing economy. Many of our lakes and other water resources need dredging as well as 500-year flood walls built along stretches of many Illinois rivers, since major flooding is now taking place annually.
Increasing Social Security payments to the lowest income seniors and Americans living with disabilities will lift millions out of poverty, increase their wellbeing and decrease their healthcare costs. These resources will flow directly into local communities across the country and into longterm care and assisted living facilities as well.
We also have to make upgrading and updating the federal and state government information and technology systems a priority. Some of our agencies are utilizing such outdated and outmoded programming that the VA, SSA, Medicare and so many others are working at a deficit before they even begin delivering necessary services to those in need. Any Medicare for All proposal must modernize these systems and no one is being serious about it.
4.) Is there anything else you would like to say to an undecided voter?
Throughout my life, when I’ve seen a problem, I didn’t just sit-down and let others take care of it.
As a candidate, I have visited every community in the 15th District many times. Rosiclare is one of the poorest towns. The public library there is the only place for many children to go after school and during the summer. The librarian makes certain that every kid gets something to eat on their way out the door before closing.
On one visit, I could tell something was wrong, so I asked tougher questions. That’s what I do. She told me that due to leaks in the roof that winter, they may have to close because the state hadn’t paid them what they were owed. It was heartbreaking because I knew how much this place meant to those kids that had just walked out the door.
Immediately after getting into the car, I got on the phone with my contacts in Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s office. The next week the library received their check.
That’s what a real Representative does. They don’t just go to Washington, D.C., collect a paycheck, make some speeches, vote on some bills and come back on breaks. It’s about listening to the people back home, asking those tougher followup questions, and then doing something about it.
That’s the job. That’s why I’m running to represent people.