DIXON – James Marter said he's tired of seeing politicians take the fruits of his labor.
"They are taking money out of my wallet, and spending it on things I don't agree with," Marter said, explaining his reason for getting into politics during a town hall Saturday at Loveland Community House and Museum.
Marter is a Republican candidate from Oswego challenging U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, in the March 20 primary. Kinzinger is seeking a fifth term in Congress. There are four Democrats seeking their party's nomination.
This isn't Marter's first political campaign. He received just more than 29 percent of the vote in a U.S. Senate primary loss to then-incumbent Sen. Mark Kirk in the 2016 Republican primary. He grew up in Bartonville in Peoria County, is a software consultant, and stepped down as chairman of the Kendall County Republican Party to run his campaign.
Marter lives just outside the 16th District, but there’s no requirement that congressional candidates live in the district they represent.
A staunch conservative, Marter’s campaign is focused on fiscal responsibility, job creation, and securing the nation’s borders. He takes a strong pro-life stance and upholds Second Amendment rights. He talks of limited government, reducing spending by cutting the Department of Education, and holding Republicans accountable to conservative values.
He also talks of "draining the swamp," as has President Donald Trump. Marter refers to Trump supporters as the "silent majority," and points out that 55.5 percent of 16th District voters cast their ballots for Trump in 2016.
On Saturday, Marter told a small crowd that the federal tax system that funds the Department of Education is a money laundering system that gives states back pennies on the dollar.
"If we are going to fund our schools, we ought to fund them locally, and then at the state level," he said.
Steve Manning, 47, of Amboy, asked about immigration and jobs. Marter called job creation in Illinois a multifaceted problem, with the state government and illegal immigration to blame.
On immigration, he said he believes in the need for a wall along the border with Mexico, and said illegal immigration is tied to the opioid crisis and sex trafficking.
"The illegal immigration problem is tied to the drug cartels," he said. "The drug cartels are fueling that pipeline of people into our country."
He said it's a problem that law enforcers cannot contact U.S. Immigrant and Customs Enforcement when they arrest someone without documentation suspected of being an illegal immigrant.
On healthcare, Marter said it's a travesty that there wasn't a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act the day Trump was inaugurated, and said the added bureaucracy and program costs are being passed on to consumers through insurance agencies.
"The federal government can't make the American people buy stuff; that's not what our constitution is designed for," Marter said of the individual mandate, which was repealed in the tax bill passed by Republicans last month.
Carolyn Sweeney of Dixon asked Marter for his assessment of that tax bill.
The candidate said the tax cuts for corporations were a good move by the president and Republicans.
"D.C. giving us a tax break is never going to be a bad thing in my book," Marter said.
Sweeney also asked Marter what stance he would take if he were on the Foreign Affairs Committee, on which Kinzinger currently serves.
"If we need to be engaged somewhere, we ought to have a declaration of war," Marter said.