Esslinger mounts challenge for legislative seat


Mitchell Esslinger is running for State Representative of District 102 against Brad Halbrook. It is his the first time running for office.

Talking about his decision to run, he said, “In the age of COVID, I saw Brad Halbrook filling the void with multiple conspiracy theories, and he couldn’t be the only one speaking. I thought, ‘hey, I have preexisting conditions, and with COVID I don’t know how much time I have to do anything.’”

Esslinger spent his early childhood years in Champaign, but in seventh grade moved to his family’s centennial farm in Strasburg.

“I got the view of the larger city and the country,” he said. “It really showed me what I loved about cities and the country. I know the struggle of farmers, of the minimum wage worker with two jobs, and even of the people we think of as better off.”

Though this is his first race, it is not his first involvement in politics.

“In 2012 my dad, who had served his country in Vietnam, had a massive heart attack. After that, the (Department of Veterans’ Affairs) covered very little of that.,” Esslinger said. “Two years later he took his own life. I would like to be able to say that he is an outlier. What resonated with me was Bernie Sanders’s message… that I’m not alone in feeling the system has failed us. I met people (while campaigning for Sanders, Biden and Clinton) who weren’t even working to survive, they were working to pay off their medical debt.”

Esslinger is optimistic about his odds of winning even though the district’s last several representatives have been Republican.

“For as much divisiveness as people say there is, these people are still our neighbors, you have to meet on common ground,” he said. “I got over a hundred signatures from Trump voters to get on the ballot. Party affiliation is misleading.”

Esslinger maintains that much of his drive to run comes from how he views his opponent’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m very glad that our president started wearing a mask, and that Republican leadership is following in tow,” said Esslinger. “But it’s quite sad that Halbrook continues to push the narrative of no mask, no social distancing, continues to push for having no masks in school, even as our kids with pre-existing conditions have to go to schools.”

Specifically, Halbrook opposed the mandate for children to wear masks in schools, instead believing parents who want should tell their school district their kids wouldn’t be masked, against the recommendations of most public health officials.

“Everyone should be able to practice their religion without infringement, but infringement can come from people pushing their religion on (others),” said Esslinger. “Halbrook can not believe in science or medicine, but we shouldn’t have to sit through that in policies he pushes.”

If elected, Esslinger has goals and beliefs that stretch far beyond the current pandemic.

“Making an economy that doesn’t work for only the wealthy is possible and necessary,” he said. “Especially with the U.S.’s death totals, there is a real need to say ‘this far and no farther.’”

For more information about Esslinger’s campaign and social media, visit


via The Prairie Press

July 21, 2020 at 06:53AM

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