Kasiar tours District 118, laments state's neglect of region's roads
When you travel through 11 counties by RV, you start to notice the state of the roads.
During a recent weeklong tour of his sprawling district, Jason Kasiar, the Republican candidate for the District 118 state House seat and an Eldorado resident, said he learned a lot from the trip, such as the sad state of roads in some counties.
“When you get down to Pope and Hardin counties, you really see what the state hasn’t done for Southern Illinois,” Kasiar told Southwest Illinois News. “The roads are terrible — probably the worst I’ve ever seen.”
Kasiar is challenging state Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg) who has represented the district since 2003. Kasiar is a community-minded man who owns and operates Beck’s Drugs, an independent pharmacy that has been in his family since 1969. He also serves on his local school board and works with several local health care organizations.
Kasiar traveled through District 118 in a 20-year-old RV that he borrowed from a friend, decorating it for the occasion. Just about a month away from the November election, Kasiar took the opportunity to meet as many people as he could, from striking up conversations with folks while eating breakfast at a local diner to participating in a candidate panel about education.
“It was an extremely enjoyable opportunity that I got to travel the district,” said Kasiar, who returned home for his son’s Friday night football game but planned to get back on the road afterward. “I’ve gotten to talk to a lot of people, a different variety of people. From what some would consider well off to those that are struggling to figure out where their next meal is going to come from. They’re all saying the same thing: We’ve got to have jobs in Illinois. We’ve got to stop bickering along party lines.”
Still, voters’ concerns play out in painfully unique ways. While the struggle for jobs and stability is felt everywhere, Massac County’s proximity to Kentucky has resulted in tax income lost to the business-friendly climate of Illinois’ neighbor. Honeywell is a key example, Kasiar said.
“They’ve been laying off people left and right because of the financial climate of Illinois and moving people over the border into Kentucky," Kasiar said. "That’s about a 10-mile drive for people. Illinois is losing that tax base, instead of finding a way to improve the market in Illinois. I don’t care if we get union jobs or private-sector jobs. In Southern Illinois, we need jobs now.”
Like voters, Kasiar is tired of hearing incumbents promise to improve the state before returning to cushy jobs in Springfield and doing little to make Illinoisans’ lives better. Kasiar knows people in Southern Illinois feel the same, and they want lawmakers to start using common sense when it comes to public policy and how it impacts jobs and the economy.
“We’re not using common sense, and people see that,” Kasiar said. “We’ve been hit the hardest here. Our industries have gone away. Frankly, people are tired of it.”
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Eldorado, IL 62930