America is the greatest nation in the world, but the powerful few and politicians who serve them are tearing our country apart.

Solutions and good faith compromises are rare or non-existent. Our leaders refuse to actually lead, and instead look to party insiders, consultants, and old names to continue tired battles. Congress tweets and issues press releases with the same stale arguments over and over again.

And all the while, Southern Illinois and its families suffer.

D.C. is filled with the noise of construction, yet our streets at home are silent. Wall Street sees record gains, but we have to tighten our belts as prices climb even higher. Big Pharma rakes in profits while life expectancy drops, and healthcare costs for Southern Illinois families multiply every day.

This is why my priorities will always be at home, in Southern Illinois.

We need fresh leaders who will choose to invest in rebuilding for our future.

We need leaders who see our crumbling roads and bridges, leaders who see that children outside major cities don't have reliable internet. We need leaders who will bring hard dollars back home, so we can strengthen our electrical grid and get our brothers and sisters in organized labor back to work rebuilding the heart of our country.

We need to rethink the way we take care of one another.

Instead of ripping away healthcare from 38,000 people in Southern Illinois, we need to ensure our seniors and children get consistent access to quality care. We must treat healthcare as a universal human right – not as an industry designed only to boost the bottom line of giant insurance companies and Big Pharma.

We need to restore and rebuild trust in our democracy.

Elites at the top are watching profits climb and accounts swell in their off-shore banks. Meanwhile, we at home only see larger costs, bigger cable bills, and higher prices at the grocery store and pharmacist, while our paychecks stay basically the same. A rich and powerful few control the wealth and the politicians. They only grow stronger, feeding division and turning us against each other—while Southern Illinois only gets weaker. It's time to get money out of politics, and create a democracy shaped by the voices of everyday families—not the checks of the super-rich.

It's time to rebuild here at home. It's time to rebuild Southern Illinois. That's my priority.