Former Champaign County Nursing Home official joins race for Hays' seat

Former Champaign County Nursing Home official joins race for Hays' seat

FITHIAN — Cindy Cunningham, former director of the adult-day-care unit at the Champaign County Nursing Home and now the owner of a consulting and management business, announced Thursday that she is running for the Democratic nomination in the Illinois House 104th District.

The district, which includes parts of Champaign and Vermilion counties, is currently represented by Rep. Chad Hays, R-Catlin. Hays announced in July that he will not run for re-election.

Mike Marron of rural Fithian has announced for the Republican nomination.

Cunningham, 51, of rural Royal in Champaign County, is the owner of Cobalt Creek Consulting and Management Services, a firm that assists businesses that provide home- and community-based services for seniors.

She is a 1991 graduate of the University of Illinois and is married and has three children.

She has never run for public office before.

"I've been an advocate for seniors and senior programs for the last 15, 20 years," she said Thursday during a reception at the home of Lori DeYoung, the Vermilion County chairwoman of her campaign. "The last two years have been just horrible because of the budget cuts and being used as hostages."

During the budget impasse, she said, she advocated on behalf of seniors and providers who continued to offer services even while they were not receiving state payment. That led to her serving on the steering committee of the Pay Now Illinois Coalition.

"So I'm here because this is nonsense. This is not what Illinois is about. This is not what we are about. We are about doing the best that we can for people who don't have anything. We are about being proud of workers. We don't put our workers down. We don't denigrate them because they have the gall to ask for a salary," Cunningham said. "I'm here because someone needs to stand up and say that this isn't right."

She said she had considered running for the state House even before Hays announced his retirement.

"I've been thinking about this for a couple of years," she said.

Cunningham also is president of the Illinois Adult Day Services Association and is legislative chairwoman of the Illinois Association of Community Care Program Home Care Providers.

She said she already lobbies the Legislature on behalf of the associations, and is familiar with the General Assembly.

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