Story by Kevin Woodard
The 17th U.S. House District in Illinois is currently held by Cheri Bustos. Bustos announced in April 2021 that she will not run for reelection. That leaves an open seat to be filled in the gerrymandered, redrawn, snaking and sprawling district that favors another Democrat. However, with a red wave expected in November, this is projected to be a tight race. Six Democrats and two Republicans are running in the primaries.
The district stretches west from Bloomington-Normal to Macomb and Peoria then north to Galesburg and the Quad Cities area then back east to Rockford. There are no candidates running from the Bloomington-Normal or Peoria metropolitan areas.
Republican Esther Joy King of East Moline appears to be the strongest candidate. She is said to have $1.5 million on hand for her campaign. King graduated from Oral Roberts University then obtained a Master’s and Law degree from Northwestern School of Law. She is a member of the U.S. Army Reserve and is employed by the Judge Advocate General’s Corp (JAG) as an officer.
King wants to reduce taxes and tariffs. She wants to increase job opportunities and economic growth. King would like to see less partisanship and politicking with Democrats and Republicans working together.
King was reared in Juarez, Mexico where her parents were missionaries. She served as an aid worker in Kabul, Afghanistan. This background fuels her passion for democracy and human rights.
Opposing King in the Republican primary is Charlie Helmick also from E. Moline. Helmick’s slogan is “Taking Back America.” He supports Donald Trump and his “America First” agenda and says that he treasures those ideas. Helmick says he will fight Joe Biden. He says he is against activists with Socialist ideals.
Helmick is a proponent of the Second amendment saying people have the right to defend their property with weapons. He is also a strong believer in free speech and that it is not to be censored by big tech. Helmick said he would like to lower health care costs for seniors by providing them with vouchers. He would lower Vet homelessness by providing them with better VA healthcare, government jobs without obstacles and homes. Helmick is pro NATO while anti China, Russia and Iran.
Democrat candidates all face a common problem, name recognition. A recent poll found “Don’t Know” leading the field with 42% of the vote.
If name recognition is everything, then the early leader is Eric Sorensen of Moline. Sorensen has worked as an on air meteorologist (weatherman) for TV in both the Rockford and Quad City markets. He says he is a climate communicator and that makes him a very effective leader when it comes to discussing climate change.
If elected Sorensen would be the first the first openly gay congressman from Illinois. He shares his experience with how he was let go from an early job as a meteorologist in Texas after his employer found out he was gay and dismissed him for violating a “morality clause.” Sorensen says he received a much warmer welcome in both Rockford and the quads.
Sorenson is an advocate for LGTBQ+ causes. He serves on the boards of Clock, Inc. and The Project of the Quad Cities. He wants to fight discrimination regarding health care that the LGTBQ+ community faces. He also wants to strengthen equality and civil rights. Sorensen supports Equality Act legislation designed to protect the LGTBQ+ community.
Sorensen is also reported to have the most cash on hand of any Democrat with $188 thousand in the bank.
Second in the battles for name recognition and cash among Democrat contenders is Litesa Wallace of Winnebago who came in second in the poll, that was financed by her campaign, and ,depending on your source, appears to have around $30 thousand on hand.
Wallace is the clear leader in this race when it comes to experience. She has served three terms as an Illinois State House member serving District 67 from 2014 to 2019. Wallace sponsored 25 bills. She also served as Chair of the Economic Justice and Equity Committee and Vice Chair of both the Business Growth and Incentives Committee and the Human Services Committee. Previous to being elected Representative she served as Chief of Staff for former State Representative Charles E. Jefferson.
Wallace cofounded the Rockford Anti-Racism network. She supported the River’s Edge Historic Tax Credit District that runs from Rockford to Peoria. She also supported the Illinois Veteran’s Suicide Task Force. Her main issues are living wages, accessible healthcare, affordable childcare, reproductive freedom, and greater economic opportunity for everyone.
Rockford’s Jonathan Logemann may be one of the “moderates” in this Democrat field. His position on student debt is to provide relief for some of it. Moline’s Angie Normoyle agrees with him on this while all other Democrat candidates argue all school debt should be forgiven.
Logemann is likely running in third place in this race because he has received significant funding and currently has $3 thousand in his account. He is the only union member running in this race. He is currently a Rockford alderman and High School Business and Economics teacher. Logemann is a member of the Illinois National Guard and and Afghanistan veteran.
Logemann believes we should look to Nuclear energy to provide more power since it is a “green” energy source. He also believes we should improve our energy sector so we can provide assistance to countries like Germany that rely on Russian oil. Logemann says our government should help companies come back to our shores so that we are no longer at risk when it comes to supply chain issues.
Normoyle has served on the Rock Island County Board and the Moline School Board. Having a child with special needs she is concerned about everyone having fair access to educational opportunities. At the university level she would like to see Pell Grants restored to a funding level that would pay for 80 percent of college expenses instead of the current 30 percent. She supports not only traditional colleges but also would see more government support for training people in trades. Normoyle would like to see more spending on infrastructure, specifically on the lock and dam system in the quads because that to could reduce supply line issues.
Because Normoyle saw her father’s company bought by foreign investors and the company reconstructed. She says that and the financial market collapse cost the family his retirement. It doesn’t appear that Normoyle would be a favorite of the business community.
The favorite of the business community on the Democrat side may very well be Jacqueline McGowan of Palos Hills. McGowan is a broker who has worked in Chicago, New York (Wall Street) and California. Not only has she worked in capital markets, but also as a lobbyist and consultant for the cannabis ecosystem.
McGowan has revealed that her father passed away in February with COVID-19. She says she was not allowed to attend the funeral because she is a “commie liberal.” McGowan says she is best positioned to take out a Trump Republican like Esther Joy King because she was raised by them.
Perhaps the most progressive candidate running as a Democrat is Channahon’s Marsha Williams. Williams was inspired to run after Jan. 6. She supports Universal Healthcare, the Green New Deal, Free College and Trade School, the 21st Century New Deal and criminal justice reform. She is endorsed by Brand New Congress, March On, Free Thought Equality PAC and Vote Common Good.
Williams tells a personal story about her unborn son that died at 38 weeks necessitating she have an abortion. She says she had to fight the doctor’s for it because she was at a conservative hospital.
June 1, 2022 at 05:02PM