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Pekin Democrat announces run for 93rd House District against incumbent Republican

Zoey Carter (left) and state Rep. Travis Weaver (right)
Zoey Carter, left, and state Rep. Travis Weaver.

A Pekin Democrat will challenge Republican state Rep. Travis Weaver for his seat in the 93rd House District next year.

Zoe Carter said she's a "normal retailer worker" who's never previously made a foray into politics.

"I got tired of not being listened to. There's so many families around that are struggling right now. And they've been struggling for years," she said. "And the state does a really good job on a lot of different programs. But the problem is, you know, in order to get all those programs, you have to be in Chicago or Springfield. There's not a lot down here."

Pekin is the biggest city in the mostly rural 93rd District that also contains communities like Kewanee, Galva, Toulon, Hanna City, and Wataga.

Weaver, R-Edwards, defeated state Rep. Mark Luft, R-Pekin, in the GOP primary for the newly-redrawn 93rd District last year. No Democrat ran in the general election.

Carter concedes the 93rd is a heavily Republican-leaning district, but doesn't think it's an impossible challenge with the right message.

"Yes, I'm running in a red district as a Democrat. But I know for a fact that people will vote for who is going to be there to help them out. And you know, that's my plan. You know, I want to help out my community," she said.

Carter said she wants to focus on issues like health care and infrastructure. She said she drives to Bloomington for medication for her transition, and there should be more options closer to rural communities. She also said with the advent of remote work, building out Internet connectivity and reliability is a priority.

For his part, Weaver said he welcomes the challenge as he runs for a second term.

"I think competition makes everybody stronger. It makes you work and makes you hone your message. It really makes you go out and meet the voter," he said.

Weaver said he's reached out to Carter, and they've swapped contact information.

Weaver said he's a "strong Christian, conservative Republican," but he also considers himself a logical legislator. He said he's proud he was able to pass three bills as a freshman in the superminority party.

"I'm really proud of my ability to work across the aisle to get things done, and do things that serve the people of central Illinois. You know, one thing to highlight is we've got a large manufacturing presence here. So, one of the bills that I worked on is to help students get liability insurance for any opportunity they may have to be in a trade program or to get into a manufacturing facility," he said.

Carter said the Democratic Party has "a good passion for helping people" that can resonate, but there's a perception the Democrats have written off rural areas in favor of larger cities where there's more votes.

"I feel like you need someone that knows how these rural areas work and know how these people are," she said.

If elected, Carter would be the first out trans person to serve in the Illinois General Assembly. She said that's a "neat idea," especially when it comes to serving as a role model — but it's not her biggest goal.

"My goal is to help out the community. But it is definitely a nice perk," she said.

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.