In an election year marked by angst over the results of President Obama’s policies, the race for the House seat from the 15th Illinois District is a refreshing change.
In interviews with the opposing candidates, Obama’s name did not come up.
Republican incumbent John Shimkus identified himself as a social conservative, pro-life, in favor of traditional marriage, conservative economically and in favor of reforming the budgeting process.
“Government left unchecked becomes autocratic,” said Shimkus. “The House has been supporting the Constitution more than the Senate has lately. There are 344 Bills on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s desk. Some of these Bills are bipartisan. None of them is going anywhere.”
In 1996 Shimkus won his first term as Representative. He has served in that capacity for 18 years. He ran as a supporter of term limits but was later convinced by George W. Bush to remain in the House.
After six years of active duty in the infantry of the U.S. Army, Shimkus became a civilian again in 1986. He served in the reserve retiring as a Lt. Colonel after 23 years.
On the issue of fossil fuels he said, “We want our mining companies to be good neighbors.”
Asked about the controversies concerning the expansion of Peabody’s Cottage Grove Mine in eastern Saline County he said he had met with the farmers concerning their complaints.
“I understand their concerns. They probably were not pleased with my response. There was not much I could do for them. That battle over the road was a local issue that I could not do much about.”
Will things change in Washington if the Republicans score a big win this November? Shimkus says only if the Republicans win the Senate.
“Then we could make some budget changes, clean up waste and spend more wisely,” Shimkus said.
“There is a coal ash bill that will set the rules for the future treatment of coal ash. Some say it is toxic. Some say it is not. Southern Illinois University found a way to use coal ash to improve cement.
“I am pro fracking, pro fossil fuels and pro life. My first priorities are jobs and the economy.”
The Democratic candidate for the 15th District is Eric Thorsland of Champaign.
Thorsland works at the University of Illinois as a Senior Research Engineer and has been the Zoning Board Chairman of Champaign County for six years, now serving his second appointed term. He was reappointed to the position after his first term. The board is composed of 11 Republicans and 11 Democrats. He was reappointed unanimously.
“I have a pretty diverse background,” Thorsland said. “I am a part time farmer, I own my own small farm. For the University I manufacture parts for particle beam accelerators. Our clients are all over the world.”
Thorsland said he questions decision-making of the Environmental Protection Agency.
“I am not a big fan of the EPA. I do not support the EPA’s definition of CO2 as a pollutant,” he said.
He says that Democrats and Republicans both are confused by his views.
“Democrats are confused and Republicans think I am in the wrong tent,” said Thorsland.
“I am the son of an air traffic controller who was fired by Ronald Reagan. I am for the Honeywell workers currently locked out in Metropolis.
“I have experience managing large projects. I think we need sensible EPA regulation.
“I like what I call ‘hand-to-hand politics.’ I get out and knock on doors, shake hands and talk to people eyeball to eyeball.
“I am against partial birth abortion, but I support a woman’s right to choose. Personally I am against abortion, but I am not a woman.”