Your Voice, Your Vote 2022: The Democratic candidates for Illinois’ 17th District

Hear from the Democratic candidates looking to take incumbent Rep. Cheri Bustos' seat in the...
Hear from the Democratic candidates looking to take incumbent Rep. Cheri Bustos' seat in the upcoming election.(25 News/Heart of Illinois ABC)
Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 8:19 PM CDT
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(Heart of Illinois ABC) - The Illinois primary is less than a week away. Now, the candidates trying to get their name on the November ballot are speaking out.

With incumbent Rep. Cheri Bustos not running for re-election, it’s leaving a packed ballot for the party, with six candidates running in next Tuesday’s primary.

Wednesday, we heard from five Democrats looking to claim the seat in the newly drawn 17th congressional district. You can listen to each of their interviews by clicking on the links below, as well as read more about them from the information provided from their official campaign websites:

Jonathan Logemann

Visit the official campaign website here.

From Jonathan’s website: “Jonathan Logemann is a high school business and economics teacher, Illinois Army National Guard Soldier and Afghanistan veteran. His father was a beloved small-town teacher and multi-sport coach. His mother was a school nurse and active in helping those who needed assistance.

Inspired by the example of his father’s enormous impact on their small town, Jonathan has always sought to make as much impact as possible in everything he has been a part of. After college, he began teaching at Chicago Fenger High School, serving students in some of the most distressed neighborhoods in Chicago.

Wanting to do more for his community and country, Jonathan enlisted in the Illinois Army National Guard, following in the footsteps of his uncle, a Navy Chaplain, and his grandfather, an Air Force tailgunner who flew in numerous combat missions in the Pacific Theater during WWII. Jonathan was called up to serve his country in Afghanistan, where he led advising missions with the Afghan National Police.

Both experiences taught him valuable leadership skills he uses today as the 2nd Ward Alderman for Rockford, where he and his wife, Sarah, who is also a teacher, are raising their three daughters. During his time in city government, Jonathan has supported projects bringing more than 1,000 jobs to Rockford, helped increase diversity on city boards, expanded access to affordable preschool and supported establishing a tuition-free college partnership between Northern Illinois University and qualifying Rockford Public Schools students.

Jonathan is running for Congress because, as a teacher, alderman, and veteran, he’s served children and families and he’s worked to protect the rights and freedoms of Americans from all walks of life. Jonathan believes those skills and experiences are what Illinois needs from a leader in the 17th Congressional District.”

Jackie McGowan

Visit the official campaign website here.

From Jackie’s website: “Ever since I was a little girl, growing up in rural America, I remember my family teaching me the importance of hard work. I carried these teachings into my professional life and will continue working hard, every day, when elected to represent our beautiful district in the U.S House of Representatives. I have the passion, experience, and resume to make a real difference for you and your families.

I have worked in a variety of industries that allow me to have a unique experience to serve this district in Congress. I spent several years involved in Capital Markets, in both the Prairie State and Wall Street, with a concentration in brokering to everyday Americans, like you and me. It was during these years that I learned not only how to compete in a male-dominated arena but master it. Proving that if given the honor, I can be a strong, fast-paced voice in Congress. I have a PROVEN track record of coming out on top and will ensure the 17th gets the best treatment, to unlock its full potential.

When I left Wall Street for Green Street and moved from Chicago, and New York, to California I felt like I was missing something. For seven years I acted as a leading advocate, lobbyist, and business consultant serving the cannabis ecosystem. However I soon realized my true calling was public service, and it was here that my appetite for politics was born. I realized that I couldn’t just idly sit by and complain about policy, I had to get involved and work to change policy.

I could have run for office in California or New York, but I felt a fierce drive to return to my roots, rural America, and work to change policy for people like my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. I take my passion, for this district, with me and I look forward to representing your concerns and issues in Washington.”

Angie Normoyle

From Angie’s website: “Angie Normoyle knows that anyone willing to work hard should be able to live the American Dream. Her great-grandparents showed up every morning and stood in line at the local GM plant, hoping to get work that day. Angie’s grandparents were lucky enough to become proud UAW members, working in GM factories with guaranteed hours, benefits, and a secure retirement.

Angie was raised in Roscoe, just outside of Rockford. Her dad was an engineer at Ingersoll Milling Machine and her mom was a secretary and retail worker. Angie waited tables and worked at the IGA grocery store through high school and college, always believing she should pay her own way. She met her husband Don as an undergraduate at Augustana College, where she now teaches. She has served on both the Rock Island County Board and the Moline School Board.

On the Moline School Board, Angie fought for every student to have access to the high-quality education they need and deserve, including her oldest son who struggled in school due to medical issues. Even though his teachers did everything in their power to help him, they just didn’t have enough resources. Angie was fortunate to be able to put her career on hold to homeschool her son—and she is dedicated to making sure that children like him never fall through the cracks.

Angie sees the American Dream her grandparents enjoyed slipping away. As her dad neared retirement after 40 years at Ingersoll, the company was sold to foreign investors, and corporate restructuring and the market crash put the family’s retirement in jeopardy.

Not only has Angie seen this in her own family and community, but she regularly hears from her students that the future feels uncertain. Good jobs are hard to find, and many are already carrying crippling student debt. The skyrocketing costs of housing, childcare, and health care make living a life better than their parents’ seem impossible.

Angie is running for Congress to keep the promise that her grandparents worked to make a reality—if you are willing to work hard, you should be able to get a great education, buy a home, raise a family, and retire with dignity in your own community.”

Eric Sorenson

Visit the official campaign website here.

From Eric’s website: “I was born and raised in Rockford. Being outside has always been important to my family, and some of my earliest memories are floating down the Kishwaukee River (a tradition we continue today). My grandparents were active in my life. With both my grandpas having served in WWII, they instilled in me the value of service.

Growing up, I was terrified of storms. But my local weatherman, “TV Eric,” explained what was happening, and helped me feel safe during them. From a young age I knew that I wanted to be “TV Eric,’’ and at age 27 that dream came true when I became the Chief Meteorologist at WREX in Rockford.

Paying it forward, I started Project Tornado, an initiative that brings meteorologists into schools to help kids feel safer during severe weather, educating 50,000 students. After 11 years working in Rockford, I moved to Moline and spent seven years delivering weather to the Quad Cities.

I came out while attending Northern Illinois University and received tremendous support from my friends and family. After graduating college, I moved south to Texas for my first television job. I remember my dad telling me that things would be “different” for me in Texas, and that it shouldn’t be that way. Unfortunately, he was right, and I experienced discrimination in that first job. I was called into my bosses’ office with a copy of my contract sitting on the desk and the “moral clause” highlighted. I was told that I couldn’t be gay and work there.

My experiences in Rockford and the Quad Cities were quite different — I was able to be out on TV! And in the Quad Cities, I took a more active role in our LGBTQ community — serving on the boards of Clock, Inc and The Project of the Quad Cities, initiatives that aim to connect vulnerable individuals to health services. This is part of serving your community that I learned from my grandpas.

Today I live in Moline with my partner Shawn and our two dogs Oliver and Petey. We enjoy bike riding, kayaking, and exploring good food in the Quad Cities and surrounding areas.

For two decades, I was your weatherman. I spent 22 years keeping you safe by telling the truth, informing, and educating our communities daily. Because telling you how the weather impacted your jobs, schools, weekends, and yes, sometimes your lives, I earned your trust through thousands of broadcasts bringing you the daily weather and important updates about “once in a century” storms. To me, being a meteorologist has always been about protecting our neighbors and our communities, values I learned from my family at an early age.”

Litesa Wallace

Visit the official campaign website here.

From Litesa’s website: “Litesa was born in Illinois and grew up in a union household. As the daughter of a postal worker and a police officer, she knows firsthand how strong unions built and sustained the middle class.

Her parents worked hard to make sure she got a good education, and they were fiercely proud when she graduated from Western Illinois University and became the first in her family to earn a college diploma.

Her son, Isaiah, was born while Litesa was putting herself through graduate school at Northern Illinois University. As a single mom, she often struggled to make ends meet, but she persevered and went on to earn an Ed.D. in educational psychology.

She started out as a counselor, working with people in Rockford who were dealing with mental illness, abuse, and addiction. Realizing that she could have a greater impact on her community by working in government, she joined State Rep. Charles Jefferson’s office as Chief of Staff. In 2014, she was chosen to replace him in the General Assembly. She went on to win re-election for two more terms.

In 2018, Litesa ran for Lieutenant Governor and traveled all over Illinois, talking with working people across our state and hearing from them about the issues that are most important to them and their families. Since then, she’s kept on working to improve the lives of people in Illinois, serving as a leader of Rockford’s efforts to end homelessness and advocating for cleaner, more sustainable energy for people across Illinois.

Now Litesa is running for Congress, where she will stand up for the hard-working people of Illinois’ 17th district. With your support, she will join the national fight for affordable childcare, expanded health care, accessible college and job training programs, and an economic recovery that creates real prosperity, for all of us.”

Marsha Williams

Visit the official campaign website here.

From Marsha’s website: “As a lifelong resident of Illinois, she knows this community personally, and cares for it in a way that has called her to do more by choosing to raise her children here. She is committed to making sure they have every opportunity life can offer them.

Growing up in a working-class union family, her parents were both active, dues-paying members of AFSCME.

Her father Randall was a custodian at a local elementary school, where his job not only meant providing a safe environment for the children, as a member of the union steady financial security and benefits meant stability for his family. Her mother Maryann, a certified nursing assistant, also found security in her union position so she could put her compassion for those in need to work to bring comfort and care to the residents.

Being in a union meant that there was food on the table, a roof over their heads, and an insurance plan that wouldn’t bankrupt them when as a family with young children, they would need both well-child care and to be prepared for emergent care.

By the time the recession hit, Marsha was a single mother to Emilia, working two jobs to pay the bills and take care of her young family, all while continuing her education.

Like all working class families, she felt the impact. Her friends and neighbors struggled to pay their rent and bills while the most powerful corporations received huge bailouts for destroying this country. She came to realize that our economic system was designed to help the ultra-wealthy, not the people in her community, and she knew that change was desperately needed leading to her commitment to activism.

That activism began back in 2002, when she volunteered as an abortion escort to protect as many women as possible, and she organized events to protect Planned Parenthood. Her effort back then ensured that when she needed a late-term abortion to save her own life, she could receive the care she needed. The loss of her son at 38 weeks pregnant due to umbilical cord knots was tragic, and the traditionalist hospital she went to told her to keep his dead body inside her despite the risk to her life. Marsha made the difficult decision to have a late-term abortion so that her oldest child, her daughter, would be able to grow up with a mother.

After the murder of George Floyd, Marsha understood that she needed to support black and African-American people in her community. She helped local activists’ efforts to bring awareness to the BLM movement, organizing multiple peaceful demonstrations in her community.

After she graduated from Purdue Global University with a Bachelor’s in Legal Studies, she dedicated her life to helping low-income and working-class individuals and families. As an admissions advisor at a trade school, she helps hundreds of unemployed and underemployed folks every year by connecting them with the skills to succeed in good-paying jobs. Her work is a direct extension of her activism and volunteering.

Outside of work, Marsha has been a community leader. She was the Minooka Community High School alumni board chair from 2013-2016, and organized alumni football games that raised thousands of dollars for the athletic and band booster clubs. She was on the planning committee for the Bold Urban Renaissance Network, which bolsters the Chicagoland arts community, from 2014-2017. From 2015-2017, she volunteered for the Chiditarod Foundation, a nonprofit aimed at alleviating hunger through direct action.

She shows up to work every day looking to level the playing field for the working people of her district, and now, she wants to fight for them in Congress.

The horrifying historical insurrection on January 6th led to a moment of clarity for Marsha. She knew this time she needed to take drastic action, especially after witnessing far-right extremism in her own community. The message it sent was loud and clear: we cannot tolerate ANY enablers of this violent rhetoric in our government any longer.

Marsha wants to continue her fight to improve the lives of everyday families in her community and around the country by turning her activism into policy work. Universal healthcare, tuition-free community colleges and trade schools, and a Green New Deal to create millions of jobs and fix our broken infrastructure, to start.

These policies are just the beginning of what Marsha will be fighting for in order to ensure the security and prosperity of families in her district, state, and country. She is fighting so they don’t have to face the same social and economic struggles that she faced, and that millions of Americans face every day.

Marsha is ready to lead the fight and be a voice for regular, everyday people in Congress.

A supporter of vocational and technical education Marsha currently is an admissions advisor at 160 Driving Academy in Peoria, Moline, and Rockford, IL. In her free time, you can find her sewing, cross-stitching, and playing Fallout 76 with her teams, the Nuka Gals and the Wasteland Wenches. She resides in Channahon, IL and Peoria, IL with her two children, Emilia and Lincoln.”

Charlie Helmick

Visit the official campaign website here.

From the official campaign website: My name is Charlie Helmick and I’m running for Congress in the 17th District covering the Illinois Quad Cities, then south towards Macomb, East to Peoria to Rockford. I am a Conservative Republican. Let me begin by telling you I love my country and our Constitution. I need to let you know now that I support my President, Donald J. Trump. I believe in America First and I treasure those ideals. Furthermore, I believe in our laws and this magnificent Country. I am pro 2nd amendment and I believe it is a right for an American to defend his or her family with a weapon that he has a right to own. The right of free speech. Not to be censored by big tech social media companies. I stand against the activists that want to corrupt our American values with their socialist ideas. I will fight Joe Biden and the Democrats to lower taxes and reduce government regulations. This State and Nation is in a financial crisis. The State of Illinois is on the fringe of bankruptcy. America is on the brink of collapse. We call for leaders to step up. It begins with the Congress and that is why im running.

My plan is to take the fight to Washington. I will not be a part-time Representative. I will dedicate every hour to develop legislation to restore our state and country. I will help develop laws to implement the proper healthcare to our residents. Furthermore, I want to fight for our senior residents. Their families have forgotten many and are on fixed budgets with increasing pharmaceutical costs. I want to lower those medical costs and create vouchers to support their everyday lives. I want to advocate for our veteran warriors. So, they receive the support needed to live productive lives. To eliminate the vet homeless. To provide them with homes and better VA healthcare. To offer them government jobs without the obstacles. To represent the single parents and to give them a shot at having a job and providing them with day care vouchers. I won’t be beholden to corrupt politicians. Only to my constituents. Unlike the establishment Democrats, I will listen to the people of my district. I will answer every call or e-mail because you are important to me.

Esther Joy King

Visit the official campaign website here.

From the website: Esther Joy King is a battle-ready leader with a heart to serve. Esther’s training as a lawyer and Captain in the Army Reserve makes her ready to get things done for us in Congress, starting on day one.

She learned the value of service from her parents who were missionaries on the US-Mexico border in Juarez. Although her family did not have much, they were generous to those who were less fortunate. It was growing up in this life of ministry that Esther learned the values of faith, family, and tireless sacrifice for others.

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