Illinois 17th District campaign trails heating up; Rep. Cheri Bustos, Esther Joy King talk RNC, Heroes Act, COVID-19

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Campaign trails are starting up in the 17th District of Illinois.

Incumbent Democratic Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) stopped by Glen Oak Park in Peoria Thursday to speak with supporters.

As the Republican National Convention continues tonight, WMBD spoke with Bustos and her challenger Esther Joy King on how they believe the convention has looked so far.

Joy King believes the stories told at the Convention are stories that are relevant to all Americans.

Bustos responded to how Republican Rep. Rodney Davis (IL-13) is one of Thursday night’s speakers at the Convention.

“Last night I loved Kayleigh McEnany’s story sharing about having a breast mastectomy,” Joy King said. “All the stories being told, I believe are representing regular issues we all go through and presenting a hope towards the opportunity America offers each one of us.”

“I’m whole-heartedly in support of Betsy Dirksen-Londrigan,” Bustos said. “She’s running for office because when she saw Rodney Davis in the Rose Garden at the White House, celebrating like a frat boy that they just tried to take away healthcare from 20 million Americans.”

Bustos and Joy King both spoke to WMBD on the impact COVID-19 is having on Central Illinois.

Local leaders, like Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis, said they’re waiting on the federal government to provide assistance that hasn’t shown up, piling on the budget deficits our towns and cities are facing.

“We need to make sure testing is free, is readily accessible, and we get quick returns,” Bustos said. “I can go out to Washington and I can get a COVID test and I can get my results on that in hours. Everybody ought to be able to do that.”

“Because it’s a government, artificial shutdown, I believe it’s the government’s role to help each one of us suffering through the pandemic. I absolutely support a stimulus package,” Joy King said.

Bustos blamed the Senate for ‘pausing’ on the Heroes Act. She said passing the stimulus package would help Peoria with its $20 million budget deficit.

Joy King called the $3 trillion Heroes Act a “Democratic wishlist,” saying it’s not a stimulus package that would actually help problems created by the pandemic

“We have seen partisanship tearing progress apart. The Heroes Act is a Democratic wishlist, it’s not a stimulus package that’s focused on solving problems that were created by the pandemic,” Joy King said.

Bustos disagreed, saying, “Money in the Heroes Act would help Peoria with this $20 million deficit it’s facing today. The firefighters, the police officers, the garbage collectors won’t have to get laid off. The answer is in the Heroes package.”

Bustos admitted House Democrats are now willing to compromise if Republicans don’t want the package to be as large as it was presented, which is $3 trillion.

Joy King said she supports a stimulus package, just not the Heroes Act. She said because the government enforced the shutdown, it’s the government’s role to “help each one of us suffering through this pandemic.”

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