Tom Kacich: Danville man to run for Shimkus' seat

Tom Kacich: Danville man to run for Shimkus' seat

A second man has stepped up to be the Democratic candidate to oppose 11-term U.S. Rep. John Shimkus next year: Heritage High School math and science teacher Anthony March.

March, who lives in Danville with his wife and two young daughters, said he "has been kind of disappointed with Representative Shimkus' policies for quite some time."

"I've been calling, emailing, things like that. But especially in terms of the health care bill, I just kind of wanted to do more than that and I figured the best way to do that and get a change in direction with the policies that were being advocated from this district would be to run for Congress myself."

March, 33, has never run for office before. And the 15th Congressional District is a very big and very conservative district.

"Yes, and I kind of live at the north part of it, too. It stretches from Paxton in Ford County all the way down to the tip of Illinois," he noted.

For the record, it's 260 miles from Paxton to Brookport on the Ohio River. And the district includes all or parts of 33 of Illinois' 102 counties.

And it gave Donald Trump 70.12 percent of its vote last year and Gov. Bruce Rauner 70.73 percent in 2014.

"I think it will be a challenge with how conservative the district is, but I think a lot of these issues are attractive to both Democrats and Republicans," said March, who called himself "a liberal Democrat." "They're issues that will improve life in the district and the United States, so I think that as long as I'm clear about what I want to do, I think they're positions that can be attractive to conservatives and liberals."

There's also this: March had $100 in his campaign fund on June 30. Shimkus reported $1,078,798.

Issues important to him, March said, include health care, the environment and parental leave.

"I think the United States can do a lot more and a lot better with giving parents better access to parental leave when they have young children," he said.

For now, he said, he'd like Congress to "stabilize" former President Obama's Affordable Care Act.

"And then if that still isn't working as well as it should be with lower premiums and deductibles and increased coverage, then after that I'd be wiling to consider something like some kind of single-payer thing," he said.

March said he has met neither Shimkus or the other Democratic candidate in the 15th, Carl Spoerer of Mahomet.

He's a native of Paxton who graduated from PBL High School and the University of Illinois.

"Yeah, my family was one of the few Democrats that were in Paxton and Ford county. There's not a whole lot of them there," he joked.

County executive salary

On the docket for the Champaign County Board in August, board Chairman C. Pius Weibel said last week, is discussion of the salaries for the new county executive and the position now known as chairman of the county board.

There will be a change in county governance in December 2018 when a county executive — a position approved by voters last November — goes into effect.

The first county executive, a powerful position elected on a partisan basis, will be chosen in November 2018. But how much the position pays will be factor in who runs for it.

County board Democrats have said that the cash-strapped county can't afford to provide a six-figure salary.

In fact, at a Democratic caucus meeting last week, Champaign Democrat Josh Hartke said the salary for two other countywide elected offices now held by Republicans, treasurer and county clerk, should be re-examined.

"I think we need to look at some ways to cut money and I would much rather cut several $10,000 pieces off those salaries or whatever than to start laying people off," Hartke said.

Hays campaign fund

State Rep. Chad Hays, who announced earlier this month that he would not run for another term in 2018, has more money in his campaign fund than at any time since it was established eight years ago: $150,639.

The Catlin Republican whose district includes Danville and other parts of Vermilion and Champaign counties, raised $27,745 in the April through June quarter, a pretty good indication that he hadn't been considering retirement until recently.

Two years ago during the same quarter, Hays raised $34,769 and finished the period with $145,961 on hand.

Here's what the State Board of Elections says about so-called "residual funds," those remaining when a committee has paid all outstanding liabilities: "Residual funds may be refunded to the contributors in amounts not exceeding their individual contributions, or transferred to other political or charitable organizations consistent with the positions of the committee or the candidates it represented. In no case shall these funds be used for the personal aggrandizement of any committee member or campaign worker."

Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette reporter and columnist. His column appears on Sundays and Wednesdays. He can be reached at 351-5221 or at kacich@news-gazette.com.

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