In IWU’s backyard: 91st House District Election Debate

By Farah Bassyouni Sep30,2022

91st House District Election Debate, here in IWU’s backyard

The Vidette

Students are becoming more and more involved in the political scene here in Bloomington-Normal. Illinois State University hosted the debate for candidates running for Illinois’ 91st House District on Tuesday, Sept. 27. Elections are set for this November, and Democrat Sharon Chung and Republican Scott Preston answered questions for a crowd largely made up of young members of the community.

Reading the room, filled with mostly college students, the first questions were heavily focused on education. 

“Strong schools build strong communities,” Chung said, highlighting the importance of helping students and universities especially in Bloomington. Her opponent, Scott Preston, mentioned how he ran for council as a 21-year-old ISU student, and despite failing to be elected, he persists that college students should make up a fair amount of the council. 

Bloomington’s involvement in the future of this election is more than apparent as the debate is co-sponsored by WGLT, WCBU, ISU’s Center for Civic Engagement, ISU’s Student Government Association, the Bloomington-Normal branch of the NAACP and the League of Women voters of Mclean County. 

With a focuson many student-related issues such as mental health, education budget, LGBTQIA+ rights and racial justice, the tension between the two candidates was high. 

When asked about reproductive health, the room’s atmosphere shifted. “I am a woman, I am pro-choice 100%,” Chung said. Preston responded with a meaningful anecdote about his wife’s IVF treatment and commented that he believes every woman’s journey to starting a family is unique. 

Preston and Chung agreed on most issues, as both were completely in favor of being inclusive towards the LGBTQIA+ community, people of color, minorities and students. However, they shared different opinions on reproductive health rights and another atmosphere-changing topic: gun violence. 

“I support the 2nd amendment right of responsible gun owners,” Preston said. He added that the issue is keeping guns away from criminals, not the people. Chung mentioned worrying for her young daughter, who was 4 months old when the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting took place. They both voiced strong support for gun reform, but different reasons and methods for change. 

Preston frequently critiqued Springfield’s democratic leadership, and in his closing statement, mentioned his opponent, who “will put crazy untrue ads that will clog your mailbox.” 

His closing statement also highlighted the importance of student involvement, and emphasized the high amount of youth sitting in the crowd. “This election is about you, not me or Sharon,” Preston said. 

Chung highlighted her musical career in her closing statement, after also highlighting her pride at being an Asian-American woman running in this election. “I knocked on over eight thousand doors and saw that people were happy to see a woman of color running,” Chung said, discussing racial justice. 

Chung did not respond or react to Preston’s comments on Springfield and instead shifted the focus to the blending of her musical and political career, which has given her the “ability to listen”. 

“I have listened, and empathized, and I try to find solutions. Vote for a mother, listener, and representative,” Chung said.

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