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Democrat Erika Weaver Wants To Be Advocate For 15th Congressional District

15th District Congressional candidate Erika Weaver speaks at a Democratic candidate's forum in Mahomet during the Illinois primary campaign.

Erika Weaver is a Democrat running for Congress in Illinois’ Republican-leaning 15th Congressional District. Weaver is an attorney with the Coles County Public Defender’s office and a member of her school board in Mattoon. And she says she wants to be her district’s advocate in Congress.

“I entered this race because I really want us to have that type of presence in D.C.—someone who is going to advocate for us, for every person in this district, when no one else is looking. When it’s not for show, but when it is absolutely about doing the work,” says Weaver. “I have worked very hard to get to where I am. It has not been an easy process. And I think that is what a lot of people in this district are experiencing. And so we need someone who understands what that is like.”

Weaver says the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need in her district for greater access to technology, education and employment. She says if elected, she would work for passage of the HEROES Act, a $3 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that passed the House in May, but has been blocked in the Senate by Republicans, who favor a smaller bill.

“That act provides for a lot of the issues as relates to not only the pandemic, but the economic impact that this is having on us,” Weaver says. “So it provides additional funding for state and local municipalities and agencies. It provides funding for paid sick time and medical leave, for housing assistance for our farmers. It provides for testing. So we have a lot of things that are there that we need to have for our citizens. In terms of how that also affects the economy, we know that once our municipalities are functioning and they’re funded, once our citizens have income, then those things also drive the economy and provides funding for our schools and our hospitals and other things. And so it’s all connected.”

Weaver says politicians have treated COVID-19 as a political, rather than a health, issue. She says she wants to place the focus on people and their health, especially as work continues to develop a vaccine.

“We have to make sure that we are being transparent, whatever that process is. Who’s doing the testing, how it’s being developed, tracking who we use that vaccine on in any testing phase,” Weaver says. “I think it’s vital that we do that in a very honest and transparent and ethical way.”

Weaver says if elected to Congress, she would work to preserve the Affordable Care Act, and then expand its scope.

“If that expansion is Medicare for All, we need to do that,” says Weaver, mentioning a proposal of which she was wary during the primary campaign. “But we can’t allow for people in the transition to lose the coverage that they have.”

Weaver also wants to attract federal funds to pay for mobile medical units to provide health care in the expansive and mostly rural 15th District. She also points to a need for more broadband coverage in the district as a way to help local school districts provide remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to expand job opportunities.

As a Black woman in a mostly white congressional district, Weaver says it’s clear that there needs to be change in police conduct in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd and others. But she says arguing about the underlying causes can be counterproductive.

“And so we know that there are disparities in how people are treated,” says Weaver. “And it shouldn’t happen. I wouldn’t want it to happen to me. I don’t want it to happen to someone else. If we think of it that way, yes, we can re-imagine how we do things.”

Weaver calls for more training for police, possibly tied to a statewide licensing program like the one recently proposed by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. She also favors forming special units to help people with emergency mental health issues.

Erika Weaver is running against Republican Mary Miller and Libertarian write-in candidate Kathleen McManamon in the 15th District congressional race. Incumbent Republican John Shimkus is stepping down after twelve terms in office.

Picture of Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows has been covering local news for WILL Radio since 2000, with occasional periods as local host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered and a stint hosting WILL's old Focus talk show. He was previously a reporter at public radio station WCBU in Peoria.

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