In Rural District, County Board Candidate Hopes Voters Look Beyond 'Democrat' Label | WGLT

In Rural District, County Board Candidate Hopes Voters Look Beyond 'Democrat' Label

Sep 23, 2020

A candidate running in a mostly rural McLean County Board district says he hopes people will consider voting for him, even if they’ve not historically supported Democrats.

Jeff Bertrand is running this fall for County Board in District 2 that includes Heyworth, LeRoy, Downs, and much of southeastern McLean County. He will face Republican incumbent William Friedrich.

Jeff Bertrand of Heyworth is running for McLean County Board in District 2.

Bertrand, who lives in Heyworth and works at State Farm, said he’s a Democrat in part because he grew up in a union household. He said he would bring an empathetic approach to the job and would support programs even if they don’t affect someone like him personally.

“Those are always the things you see on the chopping block when it comes to pretty much the Republican side, where I could never take that stuff away, because I feel it’s needed,” he said.

Bertrand added: “I just hope people give me an opportunity to tell them about myself, rather than just writing me off as, ‘Well, there’s just a Democrat,’ because that’s not the only way I identify myself. I identify myself as a listener and somebody that is willing to listen to all points of view to make a decision.”

Bertrand said behavioral health is one of his top concerns, including issues surrounding addiction and the opioid crisis. He said the county can do a better job recognizing mental health issues, in part to avoid confrontational interactions between police and people in crisis. Bertrand said more mental health services should be provided at a person’s home to avoid travel, increase privacy, and avoid any stigma about seeking help.

“I’d like to see more boots on the ground,” said Bertrand, adding he’s already deeply involved in the community. He said he was motivated to run for office for the first time because “I never see our reps out and about.”

“I never see them anywhere,” he said. “So that was my main focus: Giving some of the power back to the people, rather than just having somebody go in and vote their way without ever hearing from any of us.”

Friedrich, the incumbent, was appointed to the vacant seat in 2019.

Friedrich declined to join a WGLT candidates forum with Bertrand, or to be interviewed by WGLT separately. He said he thinks the media is biased and “has an agenda.”

“I’m not crazy about your radio station,” Friedrich told a WGLT reporter.

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