Edwardsville, IL – A steel worker, now on disabled status, is giving union supporters in Illinois’ 13th Congressional District a choice to make in the November election.
Mark D. Wicklund, 47, of Decatur, on March 15 won the Democratic nomination to challenge the incumbent, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville).
Wicklund faces a tough campaign. Two years ago, Davis defeated Madison County Judge Ann Callis, in a Republican year.
Much of the district is rural, which tends to favor Republicans, but it also includes cities such as Champaign, Bloomington and Decatur, plus much of Madison County including Edwardsville and Glen Carbon and nearby Staunton in Macoupin County.
Wicklund says Davis has favored corporate interests over those of district residents. Wicklund wants to build a coalition of seniors, organized labor, working families, farmers, students, women and veterans.
He has worked in factories and helped build grain elevators across the region. Lately, his main job has been to help his son, Adam, an Army sharpshooter who suffered a stroke in his brain in 2013 after returning from Afghanistan. Adam is now quadriplegic and cannot speak, but his father communicates with him through eye movements.
Wicklund has served on the Macon County Board and now is president of the board of the Decatur-Macon County Opportunities Corp., which oversees Head Start, senior meal and home energy assistance programs.
His website, wicklundforcongress.org, lists these positions on issues:
- Health care – “Every American should have equivalent access to health care as members of Congress. My opponent has voted to repeal Obamacare. I will vote and fight to strengthen and extend Obamacare so that every resident of the 13th District and the nation has access to quality health care.” He said he would favor the addition of a public option to drive down costs and improve access.
- Minimum wage – “I support raising the minimum wage to a living wage, ramped up to $15 an hour over a multi-year period. Nobody should work 40 hours a week and still be in poverty.” He said he would favor offsetting funding for businesses with fewer than 75 workers.
- Social Security – Wicklund says raising the income cap on Social Security contributions from its current level of $118,500 would make the system more viable without increasing the tax for most Americans.
- Climate change – “Human-caused climate change is a threat to our nation’s and the world’s security, but changes in our means of producing energy threaten to dislocate many workers.” He would support a carbon tax to raise funding to improve renewable energy technology that could bring jobs into the district.
- Higher education – “This needs to be a national priority,” he said, favoring a tax on Wall Street financial transactions. “Fair taxation of Wall Street trading should provide education for the children of everybody who is not wealthy, so that we will truly become an equal opportunity society,” he said.
- Gun rights – “I favor gun ownership rights, qualified by universal background checks for criminal activity and mental illness. The right to gun ownership is a deep and abiding part of the American heritage and enshrined in our Constitution. But Americans also have a right to live in safety, protected from the possibility of being shot in the course of a crime or an acute episode of mental illness.”
- Women’s health – “I believe that the decision to terminate a pregnancy, as well as all decisions with respect to a woman’s health care, should be made by the woman in consultation with her physicians. I will support Planned Parenthood in their vital services for women’s health.”
- Veterans – “All health care includes mental health. The veterans’ health care system should be integrated with the civilian health care system so that veterans can readily be covered for care at all health care provides, not just specifically veterans’ facilities that may be far from their homes.”
Wicklund also would try to make the system simpler and quicker to end veterans’ homelessness. “In all too many cases, veterans who have survived combat are put into jeopardy again by paperwork,” he said.