District 74's Dan Swanson getting the word out about improving services for veterans
With the 2016 Illinois legislative campaign season in full swing, Republican candidate for the 74th House District Dan Swanson is taking his message to the voters.
Recent campaign stops have included appearances at the Geneseo Community Center, a gathering hosted by Gary and Dianne Graham in Orion, the monthly veterans’ breakfast at the Galva American Legion, the Kiwanis breakfast at the United Methodist Church in Kewanee and the annual Henry County Lincoln Day Dinner at Oakwood Country Club in Coal Valley.
“My main campaign strategy is getting out and meeting folks," Swanson recently told the West Central Reporter. “From Dec. 10 to March 2, I put over 12,000 miles on my car just going out to different events. Any given weekend my wife and I hit six to eight events and on weeknights we go to different things too."
The retired Army lieutenant colonel defeated Mike DeSutter and Wayne Saline in the March 15 primary, and will face Democratic attorney Bill Butts of Galesburg in the November general election.
As the superintendent of the Henry County Veteran’s Assistance Commission, a central campaign issue for Swanson relates to veteran’s awareness and the lack of a strong voice in the state legislature on behalf of veterans.
Swanson believes legislators need to work more closely with the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and other agencies to put together an active information campaign utilizing a series of television and radio public service announcements.
“I’d like to bring more awareness to our veterans," Swanson said. "Being a veteran myself, and working with veterans and veteran’s advocates (as well as) the Henry County Veterans Mission, (I find that) a lot of them have questions about what their benefits are. For example, I had a Korean War veteran come in for medical financial assistance, and I learned he had two Purple Hearts (for bayonet wounds to his belly). Yet, he was not aware that he was eligible for benefits -- and that’s wrong.
One phone call and 30 minutes later, the veteran was enrolled in the Illinois VA health care system, Swanson said.
Swanson also points out on his web page that there are three National Guard Armories and five military units in the 74th District and that the economic impact to each of the communities involved is substantial.
“I will support and provide a strong voice for our National Guard men and women to ensure they remain viable, (are) well equipped with modern equipment and remain in our communities," Swanson wrote on the website.
The 74th District has a population of more than 108,000. Iit spreads east and west from LaMoille in Bureau County to New Boston in Mercer County; and north and south from Amboy in Lee County to Rapatee in Knox County. It also includes most of Henry County.
Swanson describes his constituency as “blue collar and working-class."
"We’re a large agricultural district, but we still have some hard-working men and women who drive to the Quad Cities to work at John Deere and some who drive to Peoria to work at Caterpillar," he said. “This is a hard working-class group of folks here in west central Illinois."