Pro-Labor former East Alton mayor Joe Silkwood enters race for state rep.

Illinois Correspondent

JOE SILKWOOD tells the Greater Madison County Federation that he will run for state representative. – Labor-Tribune photo

East Alton IL – Madison County Labor leaders were pleased and relieved last week when former East Alton Mayor Joe Silkwood told them he is running for state legislature against the Republican incumbent.

Silkwood, 61, appeared before the Greater Madison County Federation of Labor on Jan. 27 to announce his bid to unseat Amy Elik in the 111th House District. Elik was elected to the position in 2020 over the Democratic incumbent, Monica Bristow. It was a bad year for Madison County Democrats. Silkwood was defeated in his bid for county auditor in that year as well, but said he wasn’t quite ready yet to take a back seat.

Federation President B. Dean Webb happily re-introduced Silkwood to his friends on the Federation.

“I was so excited when I heard he was running,” Webb said. “If you live in his district, sign a petition. We’re going to work our butts off for him.”

Silkwood served as mayor from 2015 until last month, when he stepped down to make way for the municipal election winner, Police Chief Darren Carlton. Silkwood had not run for re-election.

Elik’s performance as representative is a big part of the reason Silkwood is running, he said.

“My opponent is hell-bent on the Republican line, including ‘right-to-work,’” he said. “But I believe a strong union presence is what lifts up a community.”

Republican claims to support police officers are not supported by their actions, he added. “There’s nobody who supports police and public works and fire fighters like a mayor,” he said. “If you want to back the badge, you have to back the people who wear the badge.”

Elik also opposed a plan to create judicial sub-districts so that smaller communities can be represented by judges, Silkwood said. “Sub-circuits are done all over the state. It’s so every part of a county can be represented,” he said.

Another problem, he noted, is that Elik has moved outside of the 111th District.

“I’ll work hard for you because I live right in East Alton, and I’m not beholden to anybody,” he added.

Silkwood has served on the East Alton Elementary School Board and the East Alton-Wood River High School board for eight years. He served as assistant director and later director of the East Alton Parks and Recreation from 1990 and 1999 and as village treasurer from 1999 to 2015, when he was elected mayor.

One of his goals is to promote and encourage redevelopment of District 111, which includes the communities surrounding Alton in the northern Metro-East.

“The men and women of District 111 built the Metro-East. Now we’ve got the opportunity to redevelop the district,” he said.

He wants to make state resources available to the municipalities and developers in the district. “Every community goes through a cycle, and we’re in a position to start making advances again,” he said.

The successful redevelopment of Eastgate Plaza shows what local developers, local governments and the state government can accomplish by working together.

“Together we were able to create a whole new center that is thriving,” he said.

Silkwood said he doesn’t believe the recent Republican success in Madison County after many years of Democratic domination will be a long-lasting trend.

“We’re not finished,” he said. “We went through a fluke thing when people were upset.”


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