Retired EIU professor seeks Democratic nod in 110th District

Retired EIU professor seeks Democratic nod in 110th District

MATTOON — Democrats have a candidate for state representative in the 110th Illinois House District, which includes all of Coles County plus all or parts of Edgar, Cumberland, Clark, Crawford and Lawrence counties.

Shirley Bell, 64, of Mattoon, a retired professor of communications studies at Eastern Illinois University, said Monday that she will run for the Democratic nomination in the district.

The current representative, Republican Reggie Phillips of Charleston, has decided not to run for a third term. Chris Miller of Oakland is the only announced candidate for the seat at this time.

Bell, who taught at EIU for 19 years and retired in 2014, earned her doctorate in speech communications from the University of Illinois.

The 110th District is heavily Republican, having re-elected Phillips with about 65 percent of the vote last year and given Donald Trump 67 percent of the vote for president.

"I'm well aware of that," Bell said Monday, "but just because it's always been a red district doesn't mean it always will be a red district."

Bell said she is concerned about Illinois' finances, education funding and out-migration from the state.

"Two and a half years without a budget is two and a half years too long," she said of the budget impasse that ended this summer. "The people of this state and of our district deserve better from our elected officials. I have been listening to members of this community for over a year about the problems they face in developing the life they want for themselves, their families and their communities.

"What I have learned is that while the importance of particular issues varies from one person to the next, frustration with the dysfunction in state government is loud and clear."

She said voters are "thoroughly disgusted with politicians using divisive slogans and labels to pit people and communities against one another. The job of state legislators is to work together to find practical solutions to the real problems of our small business owners, farmers and the people of this district."

Bell said she has not run for political office before. She is active with the Coles County Democratic Party, the Coles County Progressives, the Charleston Women's Huddle and other area political groups, she said.

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