Illinois congressional candidate speaks at SIU about student loan debt


C.J. Baricevic, a graduate of the School of Law and 12th U.S. Congressional District candidate, speaks Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, during a meeting of the SIU College Democrats in the Student Center. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

By Shannon Allen

For C.J. Baricevic, Illinois’ 12th Congressional District election boils down to two concepts: hate and hope.

Baricevic, a Democrat from Belleville, is running for Congress against incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro. He brought his campaign to SIU on Wednesday night before a crowd of about 40 people at the Student Center to unveil his strategy to invest in students, citizens, education and the workforce.

As a 2011 SIU School of Law graduate, Baricevic said he can relate to SIU students because he graduated from the same school during the same decade.


“A lot of perspective on candidates is lost on an age gap alone,” Baricevic said. “If I win, I will be the youngest Congress member and I’ll also be the only member with student loan debt.”

Baricevic said the cost of education has increased exponentially compared to the rate of inflation. He also said the shaky job market is unwelcoming to too many recent college graduates.

“One of the greatest things this country does is produce graduates,” Baricevic said. “One of the worst things we can do is produce graduates who have no incentive to work because they’re straddled with student loan debt.”

Travis Washington, president of Undergraduate College Democrats and coordinator of this event, said he relates to Baricevic more than he does Bost.

“I think even Republican students on campus could agree with C.J.’s views on student debt,” Washington said.

Baricevic supporter William Attig, a political action coordinator in southern Illinois, talked about the importance of voter registration on college campuses.

“The idea of campaigning science is led by young people,” Attig said. “It’s about taking a giant universe of people and dwindling it down to find the people you can convince to vote Democrat.”


Baricevic said although he will not tell people which party to vote for, he strongly encourages people to be motivated out of hope instead of hate.

“We have an opportunity to run on hope,” he said.

Staff writer Shannon Allen can be reached at 618-536-3326[email protected] or on Twitter @ShannonAllen_DE.

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