For Illinois’ 12th congressional district, Democratic leadership has been the running trend since 1988.
In the midst of a race against William Enyart, D-Belleville, and Paula Bradshaw, I-Carbondale, Jason Plummer visited the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute Thursday to discuss his plans to implement fresh leadership upon election.
The three candidates look to fill the seat of Jerry Costello, D-East St. Louis, who after 12 terms decided not to run for re-election because of health issues. The 12th district includes St. Louis-area suburbs and stretches to deep southern Illinois.
As a diverse crowd of young voters packed the institute’s lobby, they patiently awaited the Republican candidate’s late arrival.
Plummer’s surprisingly tall stature made him easy to spot as he entered the building. Upon his arrival, David Yepsen, the institute’s director, said even congressional candidates have to stop for road construction.
As the second candidate to visit the university for Pizza and Politics, Plummer serves as vice president of corporate Development at R.P. Lumber Company, his family-owned and operated business. He is also an Intelligence Officer in the United States Naval Reserves at Scott Air Force Base.
For Plummer, the hot topic during discussion was the economy. He said he views coal reserves, SIUC and Scott Air Force Base as significant anchors for the 12th district and called natural gas, coal reserves and farmland the area’s economic engines.
“What I look for in a candidate is someone who is going to inspire the people to lead the district,” said Adrian Miller, president of Undergraduate Student Senate. “What we need is someone to bring jobs to this area.”
Though Miller wouldn’t comment on whether he thought Plummer was capable of bringing those jobs, he said he was worth the thought for a November vote based on the day’s performance.
During a successful lieutenant governor nomination in 2010, Plummer touted himself as a new breed of politician with entrepreneurial experience free of the Illinois government’s business-as-usual baggage.
“When you look at our people, our resources and our institutions, the performance of the economy just doesn’t match up,” he said. “There’s absolutely no reason for it, and we have to turn it around.”
With the national unemployment rate at 8.2 percent and the state unemployment rate near 8.9 percent, Plummer said his experience and business knowledge will help him pull Illinois out of its current economic hole.
“It’s not because of a lack of natural resources or human ingenuity that we’re in this situation,” he said. “It’s because of bad public policy.”
Green Party Candidate Paula Bradshaw will wrap up the congressional candidate part of Pizza and Politics at 5 p.m. Sept. 18.