Local Government

Junius Rodriguez campaigns for Congress in Illinois 18th District

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jul. 14, 2016 9:00 pm
QUINCY -- Junius Rodriguez brought his campaign for Congress to Quincy on Thursday.

Slated as the Democratic nominee in April, Rodriguez is a history professor from Eureka College. He is aware that the 18th District, where he is challenging U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap, has elected Republicans to Congress for more than half a century. Rodriguez also knows that 2016 isn't just another election year.

"In this election cycle, more than any other in my lifetime, I think there is a real and palpable anger and outrage among the voters," Rodriguez said.

"If I was an incumbent officeholder I'd really be concerned about how safe even the safe seats can be this time around."

Rodriguez, 59, said he's running an unorthodox campaign, relying on a true grass-roots organization against a well-funded incumbent. He hopes people who say they want change are willing to vote for it.

"I'm a centrist Democrat, and I'm not beholden to the party or to special interests," Rodriguez said.

If voters truly see the "unholy alliance" between money and politics, Rodriguez thinks he will win widespread support from across the political spectrum. That will be important because he said even if he were to receive all of the Democratic votes in the district it won't be enough to win. He must attract independents and moderate Republicans.

With that in mind, Rodriguez is releasing policy statements each week.

He's called for completion of the Interstate 72 highway into Missouri, where the divided highway does not meet interstate highway standards. Overpasses would need to be built and at-grade crossings eliminated along the existing four-lane highway to qualify as an interstate.

A jobs proposal calls for a partnership between community colleges, public libraries and high schools to provide distance learning opportunities that will prepare people for jobs.

"You might think that if there's a community college 20 miles on down the road that it's not a problem for somebody who should be able to get the training they need, but the truth of the matter is that even becomes a burden," Rodriguez said.

He wants to see distance training programs offered in many communities, along with day care and other services to allow students to succeed.

Rodriguez wants to see income taxes simplified, eliminating many deductions. He wants to reduce the amount of government paperwork that small-business owners must file.

If elected, Rodriguez has pledged not to participate in the congressional pension program and not to serve more than six years.

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