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What They Said: IL-17 GOP Candidates On The Issues

Esther Joy King, Eugene Farrell, and Bill Fawell participating in a League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria candidates forum, 1/25/20 in East Peoria, Ill.

Three Republicans made their cases for why they deserve their party’s nomination for the 17th Congressional District this March. The League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria held a candidates forum Saturday at the Fondulac Library in East Peoria.

Bill Fawell
17th Congressional District GOP candidate Bill Fawell at the League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria candidates forum in East Peoria on Jan. 25, 2019. Tim Shelley/WCBY

Galena real estate broker Bill Fawell was the GOP’s default 2018 nominee after Galesburg businessman Mark Kleine dropped out of the race.

Fawell said he believes the country’s sharp divisions won’t improve until more power is shifted from executive branch agencies to Congress.

“I believe that the only route out is to go back to the structural daily operating model of our Constitution, where the people rule our government, and use that to right the ship of state,” he said.

Fawell lost his party’s backing in 2018 after his beliefs in 9/11 conspiracy theories were brought to light.

Also running is East Moline attorney Esther Joy King. She said she’s running to use her experience to find solutions to real problems. She told a story of a man who was given free drug samples by a nurse after he was faced with the choice between paying for needed medication or buying groceries.

Esther Joy King
Esther Joy King, an East Moline attorney vying for the 17th Congressional District Republican nomination, speaks at a League of Women Voters candidate forum in East Peoria on Jan. 25, 2020. Tim Shelley/WCBU

“Washington is broken right now. It is not OK that this is happening to real people here in the Illinois 17th Congressional District,” King said. “And why I am so honored to be a part of this is I get to sit down and listen, and serve.”

King supports keeping parts of the Affordable Care Act, like pre-existing condition coverage and allowing adult children to stay on their parents’ healthcare plans until age 26, but she said much of the law needs replaced.

Eugene Farrell of Roseville is an U.S Army veteran. He said he would make responding to constituent concerns a top priority if elected.

“Now I’m not going to stand behind and watch the parade go by. As your congressman, I’m going to provide real solutions in real time,” he said. “I’m not going to stand by and play this hokey pokey, this smoke-and-mirrors game. I’m going to give you the real solutions.”

Eugene Farrell of Roseville at the 17th District Republican Congressional forum on Jan. 25, 2020 in East Peoria. Tim Shelley/WCBU

Farrell filed a candidacy withdrawal with the Illinois State Board of Elections on January 12.

He claims his withdrawal notice was denied because it was turned in late. But an election board spokesman said that’s incorrect.

The Illinois primary election is March 17. Incumbent Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Moline) is alone on the March primary ballot, but Spanky Edwards of Peoria is running a write-in primary campaign against her after his petitions were successfully challenged.

Where they stand on the issues:

Roe v. Wade

Bill Fawell said he supports reversing the 1973 Roe v. Wade and outlawing abortion.

Eugene Farrell said he opposes reversing the Roe v. Wade decision.

Esther Joy King said she supports “eventually” reversing Roe v. Wade.

Affordable Care Act

Bill Fawell said he’s not sure it could be scrapped right away, but he would be in favor of sunsetting Obamacare in tiers and gradually replacing it.

Eugene Farrell said the ACA is “one of the biggest natural disasters” the U.S. has seen in recent decades. He supports repealing it right away, and also supports a lawsuit filed by the Trump administration to chip away at the law.

Esther Joy King said she wants to keep certain provisions of the ACA like protecting coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and allowing people to remain on their parents’ coverage until age 26, but believes the law should be replaced.


Bill Fawell said impeachment is dividing the nation to extremes not seen since before the Civil War. He said he considers impeachment part of a continuing effort to smear President Trump that began before he was elected in 2016. He said Joe and Hunter Biden are to blame in the current Ukraine scandal.

Eugene Farrell compared impeachment to taxation without representation. He said Congress is spending millions of dollars to try to remove a sitting American president to no avail, and he said nothing will probably come of it because the “meat and potatoes” of what actually happened will always be classified.

Esther Joy King said impeachment is an example of what’s wrong with Washington, D.C. She said the American people want politicians to stop playing political games and get something done.

Copyright 2020 WCBU. To see more, visit WCBU.
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