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BNTL announce McLean Co Candidate Endorsements

Adam Heenan
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Sep 8th, 2022

Bloomington, IL - On behalf of the Bloomington and Normal Trades and Labor Assembly, AFL-CIO representing 4,000 union members across 33 Union Locals in our region, it's my honor to announce our Assembly's McLean County Board endorsed candidates ahead of the election season beginning Sep 29 and culminating on Nov 8th, 2022.   


The following candidates earned the endorsements of our membership after a) completing our issue questionnaire and being invited to participate in our Sep 7th "Round-House Town Hall" with Union members, or b) have a proven track record of supporting members' issues at the county level: insistence on prevailing wage and project labor agreements, as well as pledged support for workers in our region who seek to organize new union locals and enforce safety and dignified working conditions in our county workplaces.  Democratic, Republican, and Libertarian candidates were solicited to complete our endorsement survey.  


We encourage all McLean County voters to cast their ballots for the following candidates in the districts of residence.  


District 3: Faye Freeman-Smith

District 4: Jim Rogal (i), Krystle Able

District 5: Elizabeth Johnston (i), John McIntyre (i) 

District 6: Jack Abraham, Beverly Bell

District 7: Benjamin Webb, Val Laymon (i)

District 8: Lea Cline (i), Jeannie Biles

District 9: Brandy Elmore

District 10: Corey Beirne

(i) denotes incumbent  


Voters will be able to choose two ballotted candidates in the district where they reside.  We encourage voters to have this roster on hand when they vote in the event their district has shifted following the 2020 census.  Districts not represented denote no endorsement was made by the Assembly.    


We would like to recognize that candidates Jim Rogal (LiUNA), Lizzy Johnston, Brandy Elmore, and Corey Beirne (IEA) are all active and engaged members of their respective unions.


In place of the traditional Town Hall format which was last held over Zoom during a 2020 COVID shutdown, Union members and candidates met in small groups by District in an effort to build "candidate-to-worker" relationships in an effort to seek direct input from the membership about their working and living conditions.  


"The format was great.  We didn't hear the same answers to the same questions repeatedly.  We were able carry on a conversation," - Sean Fagan, United SteelWorkers Local 787


"I felt very listened to.  The dialogue was rich and engaging; I was impressed." - Chris Winkler, Heartland Adjunct Faculty Association, Local 6077 tutor and instructor at Heartland Community College in Normal, IL


"I thought it was great, everyone was friendly." -Keith Farris Amalgamated Transit Union Local 752, Connect Transit bus driver 


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Candidates and members had 30 minutes to discuss what were the issues that matter to them, how our community is impacted, and what may be accomplished at the McLean County Board level to address their concerns.  


"I enjoyed meeting Faye Freeman-Smith (District 3).  There is a large Labor force here and I'm glad there are candidates who take the time to sit down with us, hear our concerns, and also have a few laughs." - Jake Knobloch, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 197


"It's so important not only to vote, but to know who you're voting for.  I hope we can continue doing this in the future." - Kalyn HinshawInternational Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 193


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Candidates who participated also felt the changed format was helpful in developing stronger bonds with McLean County's working people.

"The new format really worked well.  The candidates loved having the time to to really inform the voters about their campaigns and to be able to respond to individual questions." - Patrick Cortesi, McLean County Democratic Party Chair


"Speeches are one-way streets, I was glad to have the back and forth and build those relationships." - Lea Cline, Democratic candidate for McLean Co Board District 5


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(Photo credits Rachael Lund)


Also in attendance were IL AFL-CIO endorsed candidates: Eric Sorenson, State Senator Dave Koehler, and Sharon Chung as well as Frances Orenic from the Yes for the Workers Rights Campaign.  Eric Sorenson is a candidate for Illinois Congressional District 17 running in a high profile Congressional race against Trump-backed GOP candidate Esther Joy King.  Sorenson answered questions from Assembly members about the tenor of divisiveness and disinformation at the national level, and reiterated his commitment to passing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, AFL-CIO's priority Bill (HR 842) stuck by an intransigent Senate.  "I'm proud to support the incredible labor movement in the Bloomington-Normal area and to fight for the hard working people in Illinois-17," said Sorenson.


Senator Koehler is an incumbent candidate in District 46 who has a background in organizing with the United Farm Workers and has served as a State Senator in Central Illinois since 2006. Sharon Chung is a McLean Co Board member who is running for State Representative in IL-91st District and is also a member of the American Federation of Musicians, Local 301.  


Frances Orenic of Yes for the Workers Rights Amendment discussed the impact and urgency for worker-to-neighbor conversations and combating misinformation around the Workers Rights Amendment in November.  The Workers Rights Amendment will be at the top of every Illinoisians ballot and seeks to enshrine the fundamental right to organize a union into the Illinois Constitution.  Our Assembly urges all Illinoisians to vote Yes for the Workers Rights Amendment, and asks readers to "bring along three other voters" on this once in a generation referendum question.


Finally, the Bloomington and Normal Trades and Labor Assembly also endorses the Unit 5 tax referendum in an effort to support educators and those who do the work to clean, build, and support curricular programming and capital improvements for our Unit 5 school district.  We recognize that our students deserve the best that we can provide.  We urge a Yes vote on this important referendum question that impacts our working families.


"Ultimately, our endorsement process is about accountability to working people in our community.  If a candidate has earned our endorsement it's because we expect them to bring us in on the deliberating of tough topics because workers are closest to the issues and can provide insight for solutions that make sense for our community.  And this we also recognize this as an ongoing relationship and we intend to hold politicians' feet to the fire every time they're up for re-election on the issues that matter to us: our working conditions and our capacity to raise our families with the dignity we all deserve." - Adam Heenan, President, Bloomington & Normal Trades and Labor Assembly, AFL-CIO, IL Organizers Union Local 34071


We encourage all those eligible to register to vote and consider the convenient & secure options of casting a mail-in ballot or voting early.


Bloomington and Normal Trades and Labor Assembly is the Central Labor Council to the AFL-CIO representing 4,000 union members of 33 Unions across the Central Illinois counties of McLean, Dewitt, Logan and Livingston.