Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

December 9, 2023

Mike Smiddy connects with local communities

The first of two political forums took place on Sunday, where local candidates were invited to speak and answer questions by the members of the black and Latino communities.

Of the invited guests, Democratic candidate for the Illinois House of Representatives Mike Smiddy was the only one in attendance. Other guests that were invited but unable to attend the forum were Tony McCombie (R), Kelly Fisher (D) and Joshua Owens (R).

McCombie is a candidate for the Illinois House of Representatives and both Fisher and Owens are running for County Recorder.

Rep. Smiddy apologized for his opponent’s absence, stressing on the importance of hearing what the voices of the communities have to say.

“I think that’s one of the most important things that we can do as elected officials or those who are running for elected office because we have to know what all of you think, believe and that helps us when we’re in Springfield.” Rep. Smiddy said.

Rep. Smiddy looked back at his initial campaign and referred back to another forum he was a part of back in 2014 under similar circumstances, where his opponent and other guests declined to show up.

“That’s not the right way to go about trying to serve your community- you need to serve your communities all over, not just when it’s convenient for you…showing up is only part of the battle, it’s when you get there is what makes you a legislator,” Rep. Smiddy said.

The forum took place at Black Hawk College and was put on by the Black and Brown Political Coalition, which stressed its non-partisan involvement and its interest for the communities.

Moderator for the night was Dr. Araceli Masterson-Algar, a professor of Latin American and Latino studies at Augustana, and is also involved in the Palomares Social Justice Center in Moline.

Rep. Smiddy is seeking a third term representing the 71st district, and spent the night talking about his priorities for the election, some being education, healthcare and minimum wage.

Moderator Masterson-Algar also asked questions centered around social justice issues, and what his thoughts in diversity and inclusion for the nation. Rep. Smiddy encouraged community members to be involved politically, to ensure the representation from all over.

The coalition consisted of groups such as the Rock Island County NAACP, QC Empowerment Network, Augustana’s Center for Inclusive Leadership and Equity, QC LULAC Council 5285 and the Palomares Social Justice Center.

Kai Swanson was a member of the audience, along with being the special assistant to the president, was representing the meeting as a member of the county board for district 16.

“It’s unfortunate that one half of the equation was unable to participate, it’s a pity. I think a lot of us here today would have liked to here their perspectives on these issues,” Swanson said.

Juanita Zertuche, vice president of the QC LULAC chapter, was excited with the results that the forum presented, and believed that the coalition was able to meet its goal on reaching out to the community.

“We did the best that we could with the resources we had and we tried to create an environment for the candidates to engage with their community based voters,” Zertuche said.

The second forum will take place on Thursday, Oct. 20 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Rock Island. Candidates expected to be there are from the 72 District State Representative Mike Halpin (D), Brandi McGuire (R) and State Attorney candidates John McGehee (D) and Geoffrey Campbell (R).

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Mike Smiddy connects with local communities