Erika Weaver is one of four candidates running for the Democratic nomination for Congress in Illinois’ 15th District (four Republicans are also running).
The single mother from Mattoon is an attorney, working in the Coles County public defender’s office, and serving on the Mattoon School Board. But she describes on her campaign website how she once struggled to make ends meet and was even homeless and lacking a permanent address for one period.
Over time, Weaver completed her education, at Lake Land College, Eastern Illinois University and Loyola University of Chicago, where she received her law degree.
Weaver, the only African-American among the 15th District candidates, said in her interview for WILL and Illinois Newsroom that she’s running for Congress to have someone in office who understands the experience of people who have struggled as she has, “and need someone who looks like me, sounds like me, feels like me and thinks like me and know what they’re doing.”
Weaver says she’s ready to address the partisan divide in Congress and the nation as a whole, because she’s ready to have difficult conversations on topics of disagreement, but with the aim of working towards a a common solution.
Weaver says she wants to keep and improve the Affordable Care Act as the basis for providing healthcare for those who need it. She wants to make sure the law continues to cover people with pre-existing conditions, and keeps children covered by their parents’ health plans. She says she could not support a “Medicare for all” method of providing healthcare, unless she saw a “solid plan” to pay for it.
Weaver says she’s still learning about the needs of farmers in the 15th District, and looks forward to meeting with members of local Farm Bureaus about their concerns. She says she’s already heard from farmers about problems with high property taxes in some counties.
Despite record low unemployment numbers in Illinois, Weaver says the economy is not working for many people who hold multiple jobs and still struggle to support their families.
“I think there’s this idea that because people mark the box that they’re employed, that that means they’re gainfully employed, and that’s not so”, she said.
Waver says ways to improve conditions for working families include a higher federal minimum wage and expanded access to affordable healthcare, education and job training.
Besides Weaver, the Democratic candidates in the March 17 primary for Illinois’ 15th District congressional seat are Salem pharmacist and city council member Craig Morton, high school teacher John W. Hursey Jr. of Collinsville and Kevin Gaither, the 2018 Democratic nominee. The Republican candidates are Mary Miller (wife of St. Rep Chris Miller), Altamont school board member Kerry Wolff, Vermilion County Treasurer Darren Duncan and Camargo physician, Dr. Charles Ellington. They’re competing to succeed Republican incumbent John Shimkus of Collinsville, who is retiring from Congress after twelve terms in office.