DIXON – Randall Olsen is going big in his first run for a public office.
The Ottawa Democrat will challenge U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, in the state’s 16th Congressional District, which includes Lee County.
Olsen said that when he retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1988, he thought about seeking a public office, but the time wasn’t right. Then he retired last summer from his job at SwedishAmerican Hospital in Rockford.
“I just got really, really tired of all the obstructionism, the lack of cooperation that seems to be so dominant in Washington,” he said Tuesday during a town hall meeting in Council Chambers at City Hall. “And so I figured this is my call, I guess.”
After getting an undergraduate degree from Troy State University in 1984, Olsen began working on a master’s degree in psychology from Auburn University, he said, because both had classes offered close to the Air Force base where he was stationed in Alabama.
In 1995, he received a master’s degree in divinity from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He said the two master’s degrees helped qualify him for Congress from the 16th District.
“Both of those degrees require that you stretch, look at different things,” he said. “You should be able to look at alternatives. I’ve always felt that of [Kinzinger and myself], I’m the most pragmatic of the two.”
Except for his 20 years in the Air Force, Olsen said, he’s a lifelong resident of the district and knows what’s important to its residents. If elected, he said, he will most likely try to get on the House Agriculture Committee.
Among his biggest priorities are job creation and raising the minimum wage, he said.
He said $15 a hour is a reasonable minimum wage, as long as there is a gradual increase to that level. Once the minimum wage is increased, he said, he wants it to be tied to the success or failure of the economy.
“I’m a moderate Democrat,” Olsen said. “And I’m willing to listen to anybody who’s got an idea. If you think you can improve the lives of the people, and in particular my constituents in the 16th [district], I’m willing to listen. I’ll hear you out.”
Randall Olsen, R-Ottawa, will be at the Dixon VFW Hall, 1560 Franklin Grove Road, from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 7.
Go to www.electrandallolsen.com for more information.