QUINCY -- As an American history teacher for more than 20 years, Quincy native Brian Deters has studied Abraham Lincoln and looked up to Lincoln's morals and beliefs throughout his career in education.
Deters cited Lincoln as an inspiration as he formally announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the 18th Congressional District seat Sunday in front of the Lincoln-Douglas debate memorial in Quincy's Washington Park.
"One thing that's really stuck in my mind lately when I think about Lincoln are the words he famously said about a house divided against itself cannot stand. To me it's very relevant today. We've gotten to a point of division," Deters said.
"Also when I think about Lincoln, he's a man of family priorities, convictions and dedication. That's what Quincy is about. As a fifth-generation Quincyan, I feel this is the best city to make this announcement."
The 44-year-old Deters stressed to a small crowd of supporters that he is an educator, not a politician.
"This is above politics," he said. "I'm concerned about the future of our country, and I want to have a platform to talk about what it is that's dividing us. My message is it's time to heal."
If elected, issues Deters said he would focus on include campaign finance reform; equality for all both through the law and everyday treatment of others; middle class job growth; major reassessment in education, including emphasis on incentives to recruit top talent into teaching; and sensible conversations around how the Second Amendment can fit more reasonably into our society without taking away constitutional liberties.
Former Quincy Notre Dame principal Ray Heilmann gave a brief introduction of Deters Sunday and spoke favorably of him to the audience gathered.
"It is an honor for me to be here today to introduce a person I respect greatly," Heilmann said. "I've known Brian as a student at Quincy Notre Dame from grade school, through high school and through college. I want to see cutting-edge young people (in politics), and Brian is one of those people."
After announcing his candidacy in Quincy, Deters held a meet-and-greet Sunday evening in Macomb.
Deters will likely face Junius Rodriguez, a history professor at Eureka College, in the March 20 Democratic primary. Rodriguez ran for the seat in 2016, losing to U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap, by a margin of more than 2-to-1.
Deters has been teaching at College du Leman, an international school near Geneva, Switzerland. He got that job after his wife was transferred to Switzerland in 2012, where she works as a price analyst for Caterpillar Inc. Before moving overseas, Deters was a teacher at Morton High School for 17 years and a soccer coach.
Deters owns a home in Morton and returns there a few times each year. He and his wife, Joni, and their 11-year-old twin daughters plan to return to Illinois.