Katie Stuart, a mathematics instructor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), officially announced her candidacy for the Illinois House of Representatives’ 112th District on Thursday at the Madison County Courthouse in Edwardsville.
Stuart, a Democrat, will take on incumbent state Rep. Dwight Kay in her first run for public office. The 112th District includes the communities of Caseyville, Collinsville, Edwardsville, Fairview Heights, Glen Carbon, Granite City, Maryville and O’Fallon.
Stuart said she was first inspired to run while teaching at the university, observing cracks in a political process that was damaging other schools in the state.
“While SIUE has managed to remain financially solvent, I started to see the problems the budget impasse was causing for our state's higher education institutions,” Stuart told the Madison Record.
Stuart has pledged to better proportion state educational spending between Chicago and other districts.
She believes the problems in Madison County run deeper than budgetary squabbles between local legislators.
“I [saw] how the political power plays were hurting some of our most vulnerable citizens,” she said. “I want to be a positive voice for change, and work with fellow legislators to solve real problems.”
Stuart had pointed words for her opponent Kay, a Republican who has been in office since January 2011.
“I think Rep. Kay may be out of touch with what real families in this area actually need,” Stuart said. “We need to protect the jobs we have and protect the wages that provide a reasonable standard of living, and we need to create even more of those jobs.”
Stuart has called for laws to eliminate corporate loopholes and force companies that leave the state of Illinois to pay back their tax breaks. She also supports relocating the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to Scott Air Force Base in St. Clair County.
Stuart noted the potential impact of the budgetary gridlock upon the local community.
“There are families that rely on services that are being slashed due to the budget impasse,” she said. “We need a representative who is willing to get to work and discuss a solution to the budget issue.”
Kay is a co-sponsor of House Bill 4673, which would require judges seeking subsequent terms to run for retention rather than re-election. St. Clair County judges John Baricevic, Robert Haida and Robert LeChien are attempting to pursue re-election instead of retention.
“Money is playing too strong a role in our political process," Stuart said. "The three judges in St. Clair County would be faced with a well-financed machine that can campaign against their retention, and they cannot answer to any of the issues that may be brought up.”
Stuart, who was introduced at her candidacy announcement by her father-in-law and former District 7 superintendent Bob Stuart, has a suggestion for Springfield.
“If we take out the effect that huge political donations play, we can get back to the way democracy was intended to be practiced in Illinois," she said.
Stuart earned an undergraduate degree from Rutgers University and a master’s degree in mathematics from SIUE. She and her husband have two children.
The general election will be held on Nov. 8.