Opinion: Who is Dr. David Gill?



By Adam Zmick

Editor’s note: Adam Zmick volunteers for Dr. David Gill’s congressional campaign.

Do you think your vote matters? You can yap all day about how you think that Bush is better than Kerry or that anybody is better than Bush, but in the end, it amounts to nothing more than intellectual masturbation.

Unless you live in the handful of states that could swing to either candidate, you may as well use your presidential ballot for toilet paper. Illinois’ 21 electoral votes are going to John Kerry.

Speaking of swinging, we in Illinois don’t have a choice in the Senate race, either. Barring a new sex scandal, Barack Obama should be making his acceptance speech about five minutes after the polls open on Nov. 2.

Nationwide, barely 25 percent of the races for the U.S. House of Representatives are expected to see any kind of real contest. The people of Champaign-Urbana were not supposed to have a choice for the House either, but we do. Our choice is a man by the name of Dr. David Gill.

So, who is this Dr. David Gill?

Dr. Gill serves our community, and I respect him because of that. He works as an emergency-room doctor about an hour west of Champaign. He also helps with a men’s social club at a nursing home, coaches youth sports and substitute teaches.

Dr. Gill is smart on the issues, and I endorse him because of that. He supports a national health-care plan, and he opposes the fast-track trade agreements that encourage outsourcing. He also knows that we need a plan to make Iraq safe so we can bring our troops home as soon as possible.

More important than the issues and more important than his community service is the man inside the scrubs. To more than 1,000 strong supporters and volunteers, Dr. David Gill is not Dr. David Gill at all. Instead, he is called by the affectionate moniker, “Doc.”

Doc has the courage to try what many people have told him is impossible and because of that, I am one of those volunteers.

You see, it should be impossible for a Democrat to win in Illinois’ 15th Congressional District. The district lines were specifically drawn that way. (Readers, be forewarned. A brief political history is about to follow.)

In the 2000 election, Republican Tim Johnson narrowly beat Democrat Mike Kelleher. Johnson, who has been an elected official since 1971, ran using voluntary term limits for elected officials as a centerpiece of his campaign. Kelleher, on the other hand, ran using the dirt on Tim Johnson as his central issue. (I began to write some of the details of that aforementioned dirt, until I realized that it would take an entire column on its own. Don’t worry, good readers. That column is coming soon enough.)

Shortly after his victory, the 2000 census gave Johnson the opportunity to redraw the lines of our district. Democratic strongholds such as Kankakee, LeRoy and eastern Bloomington were cut out of the district, while traditionally Republican territory like Coles and Edgar counties were added.

Conveniently, Mike Kelleher’s residence now lies about five blocks outside of the 15th District’s boundaries. Johnson clobbered his 2002 opponent soundly.

So far, Tim Johnson never has lost an election. Doc, on the other hand, never has been in one. While you don’t hear it so much any more, at first everyone and their mother tried to tell Doc that this was one horse race that he had no chance of winning.

Speaking of horse races, here’s a true story from the Gill campaign trail: During a busy day of campaigning, Doc stopped by an off-track betting facility to shake hands with some potential voters. Not usually a betting man, Doc somehow got the urge to make a five-dollar bet. He picked the #2 horse to win and #5 to place – the odds were 50 to 1 against him. And he won.

Adam Zmick is a senior in engineering. His column runs Thursday. He can be reached at [email protected]