Champaign County leaders endorse Ann Callis for Congress


Ann Callis speaks at a public forum held for candidates for Congressional representation of the 13th district of Illinois on Feb. 20 at Champaign City Council chambers. 

By Eleanor Black

With the March 18 primary approaching, 13th congressional district democratic candidate Ann Callis, former chief judge of Madison County, has received a wave of endorsements from elected officials and Champaign County community members. 

“I think endorsements are important because they show a candidate’s ability to build coalitions and bring people together, which is an important skill to have in Congress,” Callis said in an email. “I am honored to have the endorsement of such dedicated public servants who understand the needs of this community and believe I am the best candidate to represent their values in Washington.”

These endorsements include Champaign Mayor Don Gerard and Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing.

“I am excited to support Ann Callis in this race because she will work effectively to help our community,” Prussing said in a press release. “We need more strong women in Congress, and Ann has a proven record of bringing people together and getting results.”

She also discussed the importance of working with others as an elected official.

“I was in the Illinois legislature and the women from the Democrats and the Republicans got together and they said, ‘There’s lots of things that we disagree on, what are the things we agree on, and we can work on those and get them done.’ And that’s what we did,” Prussing said in an interview. “That’s the approach you have to take, that you don’t know everything and you have to listen to people from very different viewpoints and try to find common ground.”

Gerard said he is not pleased with the 13th district’s current representation in Congress, and looks forward to the possibility of Callis serving the community at the federal level.

“I was not happy with the government shutdown, that was something I thought was just reckless and irresponsible and I let Congressman (Rodney) Davis know that,” he said. “But I’m also extraordinarily dissatisfied as a mayor in the heart of agriculture country, as well as at the University of Illinois where we have several thousand international students, that there has been no focus on much needed immigration reform.”

As mayor of Champaign, Gerard said he is in a bipartisan position and works with elected officials regardless of party.

“I do support Democratic candidates, but the fact of the matter is, I support people who have views, plans and initiatives that are going to directly produce positive results for the people of our community and this area,” he said. “At this time, and in getting to know Ann, I feel very strongly that she will be passionate and work to get things done in Washington.”

Callis also received an endorsement from the Champaign County Young Democrats. Scott Redenbaugh, president of the group, cited her judicial experience as an important factor in that decision.

“She is exactly the kind of candidate we need to run against Rodney Davis,” he said. “She’s got a record of bringing people together, which I think is the most sought after thing right now in Washington D.C.”

Champaign County residents George Gollin, University professor of Physics, and David Green, who works at the University’s Institute of Government and Public Affair, are running against Callis in the Democratic primary. While Prussing said she liked Gollin, she said she preferred Callis for her level of experience.

Both Redenbaugh and Prussing mentioned Callis’ implementation of a foreclosure mediation program and the first Veterans’ Court in Illinois as examples of the beneficial work she has already done as a public servant.

Redenbaugh also mentioned Callis’ support of marriage equality, reproductive rights, alternative energy and strengthening the Affordable Care Act rather than repealing it, as Rep. Davis said he would. 

“I am honored to have such strong and broad support in Champaign County,” Callis said. “I’ve come to truly love this community and the people who live here. I am excited to get to work on their behalf and advocate for our shared values in Washington.”

Eleanor can be reached at [email protected]