Seven vie for Lane Evans’ spot
By Norm Winick
There are seven individuals who have so far indicated their interest to replace Lane Evans on the November ballot and run against Andrea Zinga for Congress in the 17th District. The process by which the Precinct Committeemen will select the nominee is still being determined. Evans has not yet officially withdrawn.
A series of forums are being held in the sprawling district for the committeemen to meet the hopefuls. At Canton last Saturday, six of the seven spoke at Spoon River College.
Former one-time Republican candidate for Congress and retired oral surgeon Harold Bayne of Moline has switched parties to run but was vacationing out of the country. He had a supporter distribute his resume. There are some indications that he will soon withdraw from the chase.
State Representative Mike Boland of East Moline has served on the Citizens’ Utility Board. The former teacher touted his electability, having been elected to the legislature six times in a swing district even after being targeted by the Republicans. “I have proven I can win over independents and Republicans.’ He also said that he’s committed to good constituent services. He promised to maintain the Galesburg and Decatur offices and to equip an RV to be a mobile office. Boland also claimed credit for passing legislation prohibited tax dollars from being spent on goods made by prisoners or child labor in third-world countries.
Phil Hare has served as Lane Evans’ district director for 22 years. He, like his mentor, is an unabashed liberal. Hare was the only candidate to concentrate on issues: “I am pro-labor; I am pro-choice; I am pro-stem cell research; I am anti-war. We can’t just attack Bush and say Andrea Zinga is issueless; we must offer an alternative. Our party must get back to the issues that matter to everyday people.”
He also promised to maintain Evans current staff and offices to provide constituent services. “I know the people and this district.”
Hare also talked about his humble upbringing. “At my older sister’s wedding reception, the Sheriff came to serve eviction papers on my folks. You don’t forget those kinds of things. I will bring a tremendous passion to the job.”
“I don’t want to be ‘sir’ or ‘Congressman’ or ‘Mr.’ I want to be ‘Phil.’”
Rob Mellon, from Quincy, is a Spanish and History teacher in a small-town high school. He’s running as the outsider. “There is an overall dissatisfaction with the political process. Seventy percent of the people feel this country is headed in the wrong direction.”
“People have concerns that this nominating process isn’t democratic or open enough. To overcome this, we need to nominate a candidate who comes from outside the system — not from Washington or Springfield.
Rock Island Mayor Mark Schwiebert emphasized his electability. “I have been elected five times as Mayor of Rock Island — the last four times with over 80 percent of the vote. Local government is the laboratory of democracy; I’d like to take those lessons to a higher level.”
He also took credit for chairing a committee that helped save 5,000 jobs at the Rock Island Arsenal.
The one issue his seemed passionate about was energy and ethanol. While all the candidates supported ethanol production, Schwiebert went a little further: “Ethanol gives us that perfect alignment of the planets — jobs and energy independence. This area should be the fuel center of America.”
The bean counter
Amy Stockwell is the Macon County Auditor who says she “is always up for a challenge.” She credits herself with turning around the financial condition in Macon County and says she is “a Main Street capitalist, not a Wall Street capitalist.”
She says the federal government is broke and “we must get our financial house in order. This budget does not reflect our priorities.”
State Senator John Sullivan defeated a long-time Republican incumbent in a Republican district. “In 2002 I won with 52 percent of the vote; in 2004, in a targeted race that cost both candidates $1.7 million, I received over 62 percent of the vote.”
While his electability is his greatest claim, his residence near Rushville in Schuyler County is controversial. “I live seven or eight miles outside the district but my entire life has been spent in the 17th district. I am the most centrally-located of all the candidates.”
Sullivan is the most conservative of the group but says that he’s no fanatic. “I listen to all ideas and appreciate the diversity.”