Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana's District finds it's candidates

While presidential primaries are setting records this year for voter turnout, there are other elections taking place during these primaries. Some of the most important, yet least talked about, is the race for state representative. In the 72nd District of Illinois, where Augustana College is located, the winners of primary for state representative for Mike Halpin for the Democrats and Brandi McGuire for the Republicans.
The winners of these primaries, similar to how the presidential primaries work, will now go on to run for State Representative for Illinois’ 72nd District. They will be fighting to replace Rep. Pat Verschoore (D-IL), who is retiring after 12 years in office in the Illinois House of Representatives.
Halpin and McGuire come from very different backgrounds, both in terms of politics and life.
Halpin grew up in Voorheesville, New York, a small town just outside of Albany. He attended Roger Williams University, where he graduated with a degree in political science. He also became the first person in his immediate family to graduate from college. He then started working for Lane Evans, a former congressman and beloved member of the United States Congress from Rock Island, as well as a former Augustana Graduate. Halpin served as Evan’s district scheduler and personal aide. This is where Halpin’s political career truly began.
Halpin says that working for Evans will serve him well in both the campaign and as an elected official.
“My work with Lane Evans will serve me well, both in the campaign, and as an elected official,” said Halpin. “Lane taught me the value and virtue of public service. Politically, Lane taught me the value of reaching across the political aisle wherever possible, without compromising my own principles.”
Halpin would then go onto get his Master’s Degree from the University of Illinois, graduating cum laude with a law degree. He is now serving as a partner at McCarthy, Callas, & Feeney, P.C., a law firm in Rock Island. His decision to run comes from a desire to serve.
“I told myself that if I ever had the opportunity to serve, that I would try it,” said Halpin. “In this case, with Representative Verschoore retiring, the timing was right and my experience and energy make me an ideal candidate to serve the people of the Quad Cities.”
McGuire comes from a fairly different background than Halpin. She was born and raised in the Quad Cities, where she graduated from Sherrard High School and then attended Black Hawk College. McGuire now works as a driving instructor at her family-owned business. McGuire’s desire to run, however, comes from a very unique event.
McGuire has a young daughter who suffers from epilepsy. In 2010, McGuire and her family started a charity for epilepsy awareness, Ribbons for Kellsey. In 2014, McGuire encountered an issue with the public school her daughter was attending. Her daughter and service dog were denied entry to the school. McGuire sued the school district and in August 2015, the lawsuit was settled by the school district’s school board for $95,000.
McGuire says she reached out multiple times to her state representative about the issue and received no reply. She says this one of the main reasons that she is running for state representative.
“I remembered from history class that our Founding Fathers were citizen legislators, they left their careers and jobs for a while, went to Washington, D.C. or their State Capitols to serve the people in those early days of this great Nation,” said McGuire. “I thought I would do the same and give it my best shot.”
McGuire is following the trend of non-politicians running for Republican positions this year, with high profile examples being Donald Trump and Ben Carson.
“I think political newcomers rise from the ranks of the citizenry due to frustrations of the people of not being heard, not being served, and the lack of self-checking and accountability on the part of many current public officials,” said McGuire. “They can do what they want, and keep returning to office without being held accountable for actions or in-actions.”
McGuire and Halpin are also running on very different platforms, although they are similar to the general views of both of their respective parties.
“I will oppose any sales tax or income tax increase at any level of government-local, state or federal,” said McGuire. “I will provide the best community assistance services the 72nd District has ever seen. I will be a passionate voice in Springfield for those unheard, especially our seniors, children, students, and those with disabilities.”
McGuire also said she would return any pay increases to a charity located in the 72nd District.
Halpin said he would be working to restore the middle class. He says that the shrinking of the middle class is his main fear and one of his priorities. He would work to increase minimum wage and close the gender pay gap. However, he also expressed frustration at Governor Bruce Rauner’s current impasse on the state budget. Because of this, he says that it may take a while to get these positions into legislature.
“Unfortunately, these proactive policies may not be enacted immediately, as our Republican Governor Bruce Rauner is seeking to undermine the middle class through his position on the state budget,” said Halpin. “My first priority, therefore, will be restoring child care credits, cancer screenings, and adult in-home and day care programs, which are all under assault as a result of the Governor’s refusal to negotiate a budget.”
Both candidates said they believe it is important for citizens of districts to be able to communicate one-on-one with their representative. Halpin knocked on 1,100 doors and talked to 11,000 people while campaigning. McGuire experienced frustration when trying to contact her district representative and doesn’t want that to happen to any other citizen of her district.
Both candidates also agree that it is very important for young citizens and college students to get involved in the race for state representative.
“We need the input of young folks who are new to politics, just like the founding fathers were at the birth of this Nation. We need to hear from those citizens whose future is hanging in the balance due to irresponsible government and unaccountable public servants,” said McGuire. “We need the enthusiasm, fresh outlook and outside-the-box ideas that young people can bring to campaigns and the overall political process.”
“My own children are only 4 and 2, but our current representatives are making choices that will have consequences for my future grandchildren. Young adults cannot afford to wait to be involved,” said Halpin. “Early and consistent participation is the only way that young voices will heard, and their issues addressed, in our democracy. I would strongly encourage everyone to register and vote, and to become involved in a political party or organization”
Elections for state representative will be held on Nov. 8th, 2016, the same day as the presidential elections.

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Augustana's District finds it's candidates