Miller, Weaver face off for House

Corryn Brock, News Editor

The two candidates vying for the Illinois’s 15th congressional district seat are Eastern alumnae seeking to fill the seat that is being left empty after Republican U.S. Representative (IL-15) John Shimkus announced he would not seek re-election this cycle.

The two women, Erika Weaver (D) and Mary Miller (R), are both fresh faces in national politics who are seeking the opportunity to improve the community they live in.

Weaver

Weaver describes herself as the mom of the three “coolest young people (she’s) ever met.”

The Democrat candidate has lived in Coles County since 2005 and has many community ties.

She is currently a public defender in Coles County and member of the Mattoon school board.

Before getting to where she is today Weaver was student at Lakeland Community College where she received her Associate’s degree in Business Administration.

She then transferred to Eastern where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, Sports and Recreation. Weaver is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

She later earned a  Master’s degree in College Student Affairs.

That led her to a position as an academic counselor at Lakeland. Weaver decided to leave that position after being accepted to Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

She could not afford to relocate her family and made the decision to commute the 184 mile distance to Chicago over the next three years until she graduated and later received her license to practice law.

Now she has entered the race to represent those living in the Illinois’s 15th congressional district because, “she wants every family to have the opportunity to create and define their American Dream, but without the hardships she endured. Her campaign reflects and embodies her life, her work, and her heart for service,” according to her campaign website.

Weaver said her top three issues she will focus on if elected are education, healthcare and the economy adding that, “the pandemic has highlighted the fragility (of each of those areas) and how we can improve them.”

She said she public education needs new and different resources to improve their functioning.

“Our educational systems needs broadband support. We need resources and funding for our public school system, we need funding for our higher education, we need people in our offices who are aware of issues like sexual assault on college campuses,” Weaver said. “Those things are extremely important to me.”

Weaver said some of that funding needs to go towards teachers in and out of the classroom.

“We need to make sure our teachers have the funding and the income to do their jobs, but we also need to make sure that the technology is there for parents, for student, for families,” Weaver said. “They need to be able to move through the education process without there being a lot of inequity.”

However, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Weaver said healthcare is a top priority.

“Nothing is more important at this point,” Weaver said. “We cannot survive this pandemic and other issues and other aggravating factors unless they have access to quality and affordable healthcare and so what I want to do is get federal funds to local units so we can get care out to people across the district.”

She said she also see areas that have crossovers within her plans.

Weaver has multiple issues she said she would like to address to help the economy in her district.

“We know people are out of employment right now, our district has a significant amount of impoverished areas but we also know given this pandemic it’s possible for a lot of people to work from home and again that requires that we have a broadband, that we bring jobs into this community and once we have a vital economy that will also support our education system because the municipality funds our school system,” Weaver said.

Miller

Miller is a mother of seven children and grandmother to 17 grandchildren.

She has been married to State Rep. Chris Miller for 40 years and the couple owns a farm in Oakland. Because of this Miller said she “(knows) how to roll my sleeves up and get my hands dirty.”

Miller received a B.S. in Business Management and completed graduate course work in education and received teaching certification. She was also a member of Alpha Gamma Delta while at Eastern in the early 80s.

In her spare time, Miller teaches Sunday school and Vacation Bible School.

Miller said she is “running to help local families and ensure they can pursue their version of the American dream. Families deserve a servant-leader who will advocate for them in Washington and focus on solutions.”

She added that she has been involved with speaking to people in the district.

“I’ve been to every county in this district talking to voters and community leaders. I’m campaigning to be a voice for the Illinoisans who have been ignored by the D.C. elite, and I will always put their priorities first. The voters I talk to are desperate for economic opportunity. They want the freedom to live out their values and build their communities,” Miller said. “I will fight for policies that drive job creation, promote productive small businesses, and empower our local farmers.”

Miller said she is focused on creating economic opportunities.

“Until we have a vibrant and growing local economy, families and businesses will continue to suffer, and young adults will graduate college and flee Illinois in search of better opportunities. We must encourage business growth so that local families can find high-paying jobs, and investments will flow to our region and nation,” Miller said. “I will fight for fair trade agreements, to remove regulations limiting job growth and hiring, and to promote and utilize our region’s unique assets and hard-working people to get our economy booming again.”

One part of the economy Miller said she would like to focus one is agriculture.

“Agriculture is the backbone of our local economy, and our local farmers feed families the world over. But our farmers have been under increasing pressure over the years from unfair trade agreements and unstable markets,” Miller said. “I will ensure local family farmers can access world markets and get a fair shake when competing with other countries.”

Miller said she wants to defend the values she believes are important to Americans.

“Our values are under attack by the radical left like Nancy Pelosi, and now more than ever, we need to stand up for what makes our country and communities great,” Miller said. “That is why defending our core American values of Family, Faith, and Freedom is so critical.”

According to Miller’s website she is also pro-life, pro-2nd amendment, pro-border security, and pro-Trump.

 

Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]