Democrat George Petrilli pushes healthcare and student loan forgiveness against Darin LaHood

A Democrat making a long-drawn-out bid against U.S. Representative Darin LaHood says their district is gerrymandered in such a way that voters never get to really sort out issues with their candidates.

The 18th Congressional District includes parts of Bloomington-Normal, Peoria, and Springfield. Unlike the 13th arrondissement just next door, the 18th is not considered competitive in this election. LaHood, a Republican from Peoria, beat his last Democratic opponent in 2018 by 34 percentage points. The 18th arrondissement may not even survive redistribution of the post-2020 census.

This year, LaHood will face Democrat George Petrilli, a Springfield lawyer who was polled over the summer. LaHood did not respond to repeated requests for a WGLT interview or joint forum with Petrilli.

“When you have one party or the other that knows they can always win a district, you will never get that elected official’s full attention on the issues, because they have no motivation to do so,” he said. said Petrilli.

Petrilli said one of his top priorities is to expand opportunities in rural areas of the district. He said that this goal is closely related to health care.

“Health care is a bottleneck for the economy,” said Petrilli. “People who want to create, develop or start a business, or change jobs or careers, are really held back by the idea of ​​losing health care or losing coverage for pre-existing conditions for themselves or their family. . “

Petrilli has said he wants to move to a universal or single-payer health care system, but not immediately.

“I don’t believe at all that a for-profit health care system works. I don’t believe it has its place in our economy, ”he said. “You can see it in rural areas. You can see it in low income areas. You will find that the level of care is not the same, and it will never be the same, as these areas will never be so profitable.

Petrilli said another issue he would like to tackle is student loan debt. He said he wanted to expand loan cancellation programs to include more professions across the country. Teachers burdened with student debt could tutor other children after school and be “paid” through loan forgiveness, he said.

“This investment in society, in social programs, to give people access to your talent and education, would reap huge benefits across the country,” said Petrilli.

Natalie C. Parsons