Chris Balkema resides on the southern edge of the 11th Congressional District, but the Channahon Republican said he believes his connection with businesses and middle-class families gives him an understanding of what isn’t working in Washington.
“I have connected with large and small businesses and voters in the district who want change,” he said.
Balkema announced his candidacy for Congress Sept. 10 at an asphalt plant in North Aurora. District 11 covers a broad area including most of Burr Ridge.
Balkema, 42, appeared perfectly comfortable with the noise around him generated from semi-trucks hauling away fresh asphalt at Superior Asphalt Materials. The asphalt plant on Butterfield Road is a subsidiary of Geneva Construction, an Aurora-based highway road paving contractor around since 1926.
Balkema currently is a member of the Grundy County Board, and is a purchasing manager at Caterpillar in Joliet, where he has been employed for 20 years.
He said he has traveled throughout the district through his work, talking with business owners and families.
“My job has required me to work with other companies in the area and across America, which has been the first-hand viewpoint for me to see the pain and uncertainty owners of those companies are feeling,” he said.
Balkema faces a few opponents in the Republican primary, including state Rep. Darlene Senger of Naperville and radio talk show host Ian Bayne of Aurora. The primary winner will most likely face incumbent Democrat Rep. Bill Foster of Naperville in the general election.
John Bryan, president of Geneva Construction, said he has not yet supported a candidate in the race, but he was fully supportive of having Balkema make his announcement at his plant. Bryan said his company employs 120 people and another 100 indirectly through the trucking industry.
“Chris is in the industry and knows the importance of getting the middle class back to work to get the economy going,” Bryan said. “Most of my equipment is purchased from Caterpillar and built within 500 miles of where we are standing. This this is what drives the economy.”
Balkema said entrepreneurs and small business owners fuel growth, but feels members of Congress are getting in the way of progress.
“We know that they are ones keeping the economic engine idling and not letting it power up,” he said.
Balkema was critical of the cost to run businesses, the nation’s debt and President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.
“Almost all agree the new laws of Obamacare are not sustainable,” Balkema said.
He said he chose the asphalt plant in North Aurora for his official announcement for a reason.
“I could have announced this campaign on the steps of city hall or in front of a municipal building where it would have been a little cooler and less smelly, but it would not have articulated the heart and soul of America and what we were built on,” Balkema said.