AP Government Students Meet Local Candidates

Illinoisan politics: a mess of economic issues, education requirements, and healthcare discourse. Here is a run down of the major players for local politics—their beliefs, their goals, and their message by AP U.S Government students who met each candidate during recent class visits. 

Bill Foster-Congress

Congressman Bill Foster represents the 11th district of Illinois and is running for reelection. Foster said he dove into politics because of the lack of action. 

Originally a businessman and physicist, Foster pursued the political agenda due to his father’s influence; his father was a civil rights lawyer during the segregation period in the US. 

Driven by the need to support all people, Foster took strides to use taxpayers’ money effectively and cement policy into place. 

Foster also expressed a strong desire to fight radical claims of election fraud, and spoke to the sanctity of our nation’s elections. He believes that the long term stakes of this distrust is our democracy and that we must look “40 years into the future” as opposed to just the present. 

Senior Vedika Shah noted that “I appreciated that Bill Foster took a refined, educated approach to sharing his political thoughts. I really liked that he started off by giving off his science and business background—it gave him credibility.” Foster would appeal to the liberal, high school demographic.  

Catalina Lauf-Congress

Foster’s opponent, Catalina Lauf stands for all American morals. She explained her mother’s background as a Guatemalan immigrant and how hard work and admiration for this country made Lauf determined to become a politician. She said, “personal responsibility and hard work” are her core values as a politician. 

She also made evident that she wants younger people in office—term limits were another one of her critical points. 

Catalina Lauf wants citizens to respect the flag and stand up for the pledge of allegiance; not standing up is disrespectful. She said, “[the flag] is hope to me.” 

Steve Reick-Representative

On a much more local level, Representative Steve Reick and his challenger, Bill Myers, joined our class. Reick, inspired to join politics because he wanted to restore trust in a political community, commented on Illinois pensions and competition for schools. 

His main focus was on pensions which made him more fiscally conservative. Reick believes that Illinois faces a major issue with the lack of readily available funding towards pensions, and that this puts great stress on the Illinois population and economy.  Reick’s beliefs reflect the area of McHenry County accurately, financially speaking. 

He also mentioned criticisms for the work of specific agencies that help to provide support for kids in abusive homes. He said, speaking of the current policies employed by groups such as DCFS,  “The first priority should be the care for our children.”

Bill Myers-Representative

Bill Myers was quite the opposite from Steve Reick in a few ways. Myers walked in the classroom wearing a casual Hawaiian shirt, waiting his turn to introduce himself. 

Myers pointed to his youth as his inspiration to become involved in politics, stating that “When I was 6, JFK was murdered in broad daylight. We sat at home, watched the funeral on TV. I started reading everything I could find about John Kennedy.” This obviously made Myers a politically motivated thinker at a young age, as he came into the class without fear of being controversial. 

He spoke particularly negatively about former president Donald Trump, and the chaos that ensued after his loss of the 2020 election, a common thread between many democratic speakers at this point. 

When asked about political divisions. Myers pointed to this as a crucial moment in today’s politics, saying that “the biggest worry is that there are people who voted for Donald Trump who will never listen to what I have to say, no matter what evidence.” 

One thing that was quickly noted in the discussions after he had left was that Myers was not afraid to say what he believes in, even if it leaves him at risk of isolating a group of people. 

Myers ended his talk by pushing us to “distinguish what’s valid or not” for ourselves, and to not get stuck in the “news silos” that plague our election and policy processes. 

Craig Wilcox-State Senate

Illinois’ current State Senate, Wilcox is passionate about service and teamwork, coming from a strong military background. 

Allena Barbato-State Senate

The opponent to incumbent Craig Wilcox is Allena Barbato. Barbato, running for the first time, says she was inspired to run based on the Dobbs decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion. She started out as a trustee in Lake Villa’s council board, but was prompted by her peers and other Illinoisan politicians to bring her passion to the Illinois Senate.