This November, the congressional face of Bradley University will no longer be 18th district representative Aaron Schock. This year will mark the first in Bradley’s history where the university won’t be a part of the 18th congressional district of Illinois – rather, the 17th District.
Brad McMillan, Executive Director of the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service, said the reasoning behind the district switch was population changes.
“Every 10 years new district boundaries are drawn,” he said. “It is all based off of census data. The southern part of Peoria and part of Tazewell County will be [included in the 17th District]. This district will now be more compact and that makes more sense, but it does mean Peoria will be split.”
McMillan once served as district chief of staff for former 18th congressional district representative Ray LaHood, a Bradley alum. With his political background, McMillan said having the city divided by two districts won’t be so bad.
“There are some mixed feelings about Peoria being split in two congressional districts, but I know there are some advantages to having two representatives [for Peoria] in Congress,” he said.
Current 18th congressional district representative and Bradley graduate Aaron Schock will no longer be representing the university with this change. McMillian said, however, that Schock will continue to play a role in Bradley’s future.
“Congressman Schock has been a huge help to the Bradley community,” he said. “He’ll always be an alumni and a part of Bradley. He’ll help when he can. But we’ll have to get to know the new representative for our district.”
According to a Real Clear Politics poll, the 17th district of Illinois was ranked 8th hottest race in the country.
“A lot of attention and money will be spent on that particular race,” McMillan said.
Nathan Arnold, Field Director for current 17th district representative Bobby Schilling, said the new addition of Bradley is positive for the district.
“Bobby is really excited that Bradley is part of the district,” he said. “Having Bradley and moreover the city of Peoria means a lot. This area has long been touted as a microcosm of America and it’s exactly the type of area that responds well to practical experience and non-partisan problem solving.”
On Oct. 25th, the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service, WTVP Peoria and the Illinois League of Women’s Voters will co-host a congressional debate between Republican Bobby Schilling and Democrat Cheri Bustos for the 17th district. McMillan said he would like Bradley students involved.
“We’ll do a good job filling the stands [at the debate] with students,” he said. “We will continue to advocate to students to participate in questions for the candidates as well. We may even do an online survey where Bradley students can submit questions to the candidates.”
Despite the district change, McMillan said he encourages students to vote for the new representative.
“We’re hopeful that students get engaged, get registered and vote in the upcoming election,” he said. “We want them to realize it’s their civic duty to do so.”