The Record asked Congressman John Shimkus (R-Collinsville) to give his snapshot perspective on a variety of national, state and local issues. Here is how he responded:
Q: How is the war in Iraq going?
A: First, we must remember that Iraq is now free and independent. They are still working on a constitution, which will be voted on later this year, followed by the election of a government.
It is important to note that the attacks that are taking place now are not random. They are coordinated efforts to destabilize the efforts at creating a democracy in the Middle East that will serve as an example and a beacon of hope for freedom seekers everywhere. Our troops are doing outstanding work, and we must remember them and their sacrifice.
How would you assess President Bush's handling of the war?
A: The President is handling the situation as best he can.
He's relying on the military commanders to do their jobs. Again, with the events in London, we cannot forget that either we fight this war on the terrorists' turf or we'll fight it here at home. The President and our soldiers are doing their absolute best to defeat terrorism, and I fully support their efforts.
Q: Will you share personal anecdotes about the President's January visit to Collinsville-your hometown?
A: It was an honor to have President Bush give his first policy speech of his second term here in Madison County. His visit helped to highlight an issue that we have been trying to bring focus to for several years. And his visit was one of the many reasons something was finally done at the state level.
It's really just an honor to serve in Congress, and I can't thank the people who have supported me for so many years. The President is as sincere and genuine in person as he is on television.
Q: You were the last elected Republican in Madison County, how did you win in the solidly Democratic county?
A: What helped was my ability to talk to as many voters as possible. Karen and I took a great leap of faith when I quit my teaching job to campaign full-time. Forty of those days I walked door to door, many times alone. I believe that work effort and commitment resonated with the voters who were looking for change.
The voters of Madison County gave me a chance to serve them. I will always be grateful for that opportunity.
Q: What are Governor Rod Blagojevich's weaknesses going into the next election?
I believe that the Governor faces major obstacles in the next election. Democrats, Republicans and Independents have all been telling me that they have lost faith in his leadership.
Ethics are going to be a very real obstacle for his administration and the budget-busting pension plan is perhaps the worst decision that he could have made.
Q: What qualities must the governor's Republican challenger possess in order to win the general election?
A: We are fortunate on the Republican side to have some tremendously gifted candidates who possess the necessary qualifications to turn our state around and build a climate that encourages business and development in Illinois.
I believe that our candidate will have access to the necessary funds to be competitive, but it will be important for them to continually build their base of support.
I would like to see all the candidates pledge to support the eventual nominee so that we can go into the November '06 election united to elect a Republican Governor, make Frank Watson the President of our State Senate and Tom Cross the Speaker of the Illinois House.
If we are unified in our purpose and our goals, we can quite likely elect a number of statewide officers as well.
Q: Would you ever consider a run for governor?
A: I am going to be running for re-election in 2006.