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home : local news : local news
November 20, 2018

11/5/2018 8:02:00 AM
First-timers competing for 110th District seat
Daily News

The Republican Party has held a tight grip on the 110th District, but Democratic candidate Shirley Bell would like to give Republican candidate Chris Miller a run for his money in this open-seat election.

Miller, 64, Oakland, has been married to wife, Mary, for 38 years. They have seven children and 14 grandchildren. He has a B.A. in education from Eureka College and an A.S. in agriculture from Lake Land College.

"I played four years of football at Eureka College, including several years with retired Robinson High School athletic director Terry Roche," said Miller. "I'm a third-generation farmer and cattleman in Coles County."

This is his first time running for elected office.

"I'm a life member of the NRA and a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation. I'm a member of the Illinois Angus Association and served two terms on Illinois Angus Association Board of Directors," said Miller. "While a student at Lake Land College, I was elected as Student Representative to the Board of Trustees. I have attended Oakland Christian Church for more than 40 years, and I serve as a church elder."

Name the three top issues that have to do with the office, your stand on those issues and how you will approach them.

"I've put more than 50,000 miles on my truck driving around the 110th District over the past year. The primary issue I've been confronted with is opposition to Mike Madigan," said Miller. "If elected as state representative, I give my solemn promise that I will not vote for Mike Madigan as Speaker of the House. Many of the problems in the 110th District are tied to enduring four decades of Mike Madigan and his operatives funneling tax dollars from downstate Illinois to Chicago and Cook County. I will stand against Madigan and work to bring more development, businesses and jobs to the 110th District."

"We need to grow and develop Illinois businesses and stop the outward migration from Illinois," Miller continued. "We have to create new jobs for our citizens here in the district. We need to focus on developing our young people for the work force through excellent K-12 education, colleges and trade schools."

"It is more important than ever to have representatives who stand firm on protecting our rights. The citizens of the 110th District can count on me to protect our 1st and 2nd amendment rights and the rights of the unborn," said Miller. "I am proud to be endorsed by the Illinois State Rifle Association, National Federation of Independent Businesses, ABATE, Illinois Farm Bureau Activators, and many other organizations."

Why are you the most qualified of the candidates in the race?

"I've been a life-long citizen of the district. I understand the values and issues that are important to people in downstate Illinois," said Miller. "With my experience as a small business owner, I can work alongside the business community to renew the economy and bring jobs and prosperity back to the 110th District. I'm looking forward to working with first-time state representatives and family farmers Darren Bailey (109th District) and Blaine Wilhour (107th District). I have spent my 40-year farming career preserving and improving my land for the next generation and I will take the same approach in Springfield."

Shirley Bell

Democratic candidate Shirley Bell, 65, Mattoon, has a grown son and twin seven year-old grandsons.

"I am a first-time, grassroots candidate for State Representative of the 110th district," said Bell. "I retired in 2014 from Eastern Illinois University after teaching interpersonal communication there for nineteen years. I am very actively involved in many community, focusing particularly since retirement on Voter Registration drives and Call/Write Your Representative Campaigns to increase citizen involvement in our local, state, and national governments.

Her community service/volunteer activities and memberships include, Former Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), Five-Mile House fundraiser volunteer, Mattoon Area YMCA, University Professionals of Illinois, Illinois Retired Teachers Association, State University Annuitants Association, Legislative Outreach Chair-CCID, Charleston Huddle Action, and more.

Name the three top issues that have to do with the office, your stand on those issues and how you will approach them.

"My focus as the next state representative of the 110th has always been on doing the things we need to do to start growing again. Our largely rural district has not been given the same chance as more populated districts to grow and thrive. We have that chance now and I will spend the next two years working on what we need to do that," said Bell.

Public education is also a focus for Bell. "Pre-K through higher education, including support for apprenticeships, certificate, and targeted training programs for those who do not wish to pursue a two- or four-year degree. When we invest in education for all our people, we provide them the knowledge, skills, and abilities to get and keep good jobs. A good job is one that pays a livable wage (a wage that one can live and raise a family on), health insurance, benefits, is stable, and provides a path for advancement. And those good jobs in the 110th are badly needed by the people living in the 110th," Bell said. "We have shortages of teachers and other K-12 personnel, health care professionals, and skilled trade workers, among others. When we invest in quality, affordable education for all, we expand job opportunities, people living here have their needs met, and our communities grow and thrive."

On infrastructure such as roads, bridges and rural broadband, Bell says they are "roadblocks to growth." "Crumbling roads and bridges and slow- or no-speed Internet are roadblocks to growth for the 110th," continued Bell. "Everyone depends on good roads and bridges- our families, workers, small businesses, schools, farm/ag, workers, health care workers, including EMTs and other first responders and the lack of rural broadband for all makes us unable to compete with people in more populated areas. We must repair, rebuild, and expand our infrastructure for all of our communities and doing that provides good jobs for our people."

Bell wants to overhaul what she calls "our outdated, unfair, unworkable tax system" to solve the budget crisis. "Illinois needs to produce an annual budget annually, we need to pay our bills on time instead of wasting taxpayer dollars on interest charges for late payment. And we need to overhaul our entire tax system, rather than cherry-picking one tax to talk about and never solving the structural problem that put us in such debt. That means everything's on the table--income taxes, property taxes, and sales taxes--revenue and spending," said Bell.

Why are you the most qualified of the candidates in the race?

The people of the 110th have a clear choice for their next state representative," said Bell. "I will be a full-time representative for all my constituents-independents, Republicans, Democrats, and all others, alike. I am well-informed and focused on district issues, not a national agenda that divides our people and so gridlocks our legislators with hyper-partisanship that they can't get any real work done. Bipartisanship, compromise, negotiation are not dirty words, they are fundamental job requirements for a legislator. I have been teaching interpersonal communication for most of my adult life--I know how to talk with people and I know how to listen. My first-time, grassroots, volunteer campaign has worked very hard with "meager" funds from individuals and groups who care about Downstate rural districts like our own and believe that we can be successful if our state government gives us a fair chance. I will work hard to give Us that fair chance. I will not accept a pension for serving as your State Rep. I will be a strong voice for our interests and needs and I'll never forget who I work for--I work for you, the people of the 110th. Let's "Give 'Em Bell in Springfield" and, finally get some work done - together."

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