Union member, Labor ally seek to unseat Elik for Illinois’ 111th House District

By ELIZABETH DONALD
Illinois Correspondent

Springfield, IL – At least two Democrats are planning to challenge Republican state Rep. Amy Elik for the 111th House District next year.

Labor ally Don McDonough and union member Nick Raftopoulos have both launched their efforts to win the Democratic nomination for the 111th District.

MCDONOUGH
Alton native McDonough spoke to the Greater Madison County Federation of Labor last month to introduce himself and declare his intent to challenge Elik.

“The trend might be daunting with Republicans winning most of the county offices (in Madison County),” McDonough said. “But the middle class is shrinking, and I want to work on reversing that trend… I can’t do it alone in a representative district, but I’m seeking your support.”

McDonough graduated from Alton High School and the University of Illinois. As a young man, he worked two summers at Shell as part of its union, and worked as a union janitor in college.

“I intend to focus on the needs of senior citizens, should I be fortunate enough to win,” he said. “After years of work and raising families, seniors should not be forced to live their twilight years in poverty and economic insecurity. Our tax system should not force them out of their homes.”

McDonough said his policy emphasis will address job creation, workforce development, economic prosperity, support of education, fighting for income equality, and maintaining an efficient social safety net. He emphasized the need for transportation infrastructure support in the Metro East, including support for the oil refineries, steel mills and the America’s Central Port that are “critical industries” for good-paying local jobs.

“We must, at the same time provide workers with paid leave, increase the minimum wage, and honor the prevailing wage in our region,” McDonough said. “I believe we can get it done… I want to elevate the political discussion as well as the economic security of the people I hope to represent. We cannot have political stability if the vast majority of our people live in economic insecurity.”

McDonough has worked in political campaigns for many years, ranging from the Carter/Mondale Presidential Campaign Committee in 1980 to staff of U.S. Sen. John Glenn to multiple Congressional campaigns and former California Gov. Jerry Brown.

“I’ve been involved in government and elections at every level for more than 40 years and have seen the deterioration of civility and trust,” McDonough said. “Politics has become too much of a forum for culture wars, with an emphasis on who can yell the loudest to get a 10-second sound bite and dominate the news. People are fed up with this kind of politics.”

RAFTOPOULOS
“I am running because I think the 111th needs a representative that will fight for hardworking families, stand up for unions, and bring new solutions to the state House,” Raftopoulos said when he announced his candidacy.

Raftopoulos was born and raised in Granite City, attending public schools and earning an associate’s degree at Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC)  and a bachelor’s degree at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. A member of AFSCME Local 799, he states he will “always support unions.”

“Union jobs are the backbone of our state and national economies,” he posted on his website. “We need to protect them from those who seek to strip them away. For generations, union jobs have provided individuals with the ability and opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty and provide a better life for their families.”

Raftopoulos is a frequent volunteer, working to build houses after Hurricane Katrina and volunteering for the Good Samaritan House, Rebuilding Together and the Metro-East Rotary Club.

Currently Raftopoulos serves as elected trustee for SWIC since 2019 and serves as chair. He has opposed tuition hikes while supporting a prevailing wage for the employees, and has the endorsement of the faculty union.

“He is a genuine and pragmatic man with a determination to do what he feels is best for those involved,” said Michael McClure, president of the SWIC Faculty Union. “His dedication to do the right thing is the precise characteristic everyone should desire from a person vying for an influential position. I proudly support him in his campaign to run for Illinois state representative.”

Raftopoulos has also been endorsed by other local leaders, including Granite City Alderman Brad Evensong, former SWIC trustee Sara Soehlke and Brett Egger, grievance officer of the faculty union.

“His leadership at SWIC has led to a much higher level of job satisfaction among faculty and non-faculty,” Egger said. “he has shown to possess all the qualities of a strong leader, and he is a proven union supporter. Nick will be an excellent state representative.”

Raftopoulos wants to see the Workers’ Rights Amendment expanded to include benefits such as paid maternity and paternity leave, and supports the expansion of job training programs for the trades.

Raftopoulos’ first official event is a meet-and-greet at Manhattan’s Coffee and Social House 5:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 29 in Granite City.


 

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