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Local

Peoria social justice leader running in 17th District

Bustos would have first primary opponent since 2012

Spanky Edwards, Democratic candidate for 17th Congressional District.
Spanky Edwards, Democratic candidate for 17th Congressional District.

For the first time since her first run for Congress in 2012, U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos will have an opponent in the 2020 Democratic primary.

Spanky Edwards, president of the Peoria Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, formally stated his intentions to run by filing with the Federal Election Commission.

Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “The Audacity to Dream Again” is featured prominently atop his Spanky Edwards for Congress Facebook page.

Edwards says he is the social justice, poor people’s candidate. He highlights a 247wallst.com survey that ranks Illinois’ 17th District as the third worst of the nation’s 435 congressional districts for black people. He says the district isn’t much better for poor white people.

“This is why I’m running,” Edwards said. “We’ll use the federal government and the free enterprise system to reconstruct how our economy and education systems operation. We’ll create more $100,000 job opportunities and an educated/skilled workforce of people qualified to handle those jobs.”

The same study shows, that in the 17th District, 39.8% of blacks and 12.9% of whites are living in poverty.

Edwards calls for an economic, educational and environmental “reconstruction” in 2020 to bring social justice and equity to the district. Specifically, he supports Medicare for All, six-figure salaries for teachers, police and firefighters, and an emphasis on workforce development programs. He also supports student loan forgiveness, criminal justice reform and the Green New Deal.

In 2012, Bustos’ first run for Congress, she defeated Greg Aguilar and George Gaulrapp in the Democratic primary before taking care of Republican Bobby Schilling. She was unopposed in the 2014, 2016 and 2018 primaries.

Three Republicans have declared their intentions to run in the 17th District.

Bill Fawell, a Galena real estate broker, will run again after losing to Bustos in 2018. Esther Joy King, an East Moline real estate lawyer and small business owner, and Roseville Army veteran Eugene Farrell are also in the GOP primary mix.

Fawell jumped into the last general election after Galesburg businessman Mark Kleine dropped out of the primary. Bustos took 62 percent of the vote in 2018.

The primary election will be March 17; the general election Nov. 3, 2020.

Illinois’ 17th Congressional District covers Carroll, Fulton, Henderson, Henry, Jo Daviess, Knox, Mercer, Rock Island, Stephenson, Warren and Whiteside counties. Parts of Peoria, Tazewell and Winnebago also are included.

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