Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect Jon Ebel was mobilized for the Iraq War in 2003.
A religion professor and Navy veteran is the latest person to throw his name in the hat for the Democratic nomination in Illinois’ 13th congressional district.
Jon Ebel, of Urbana, has hopes of winning his party’s nomination and challenging U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, in the November 2018 election.
Ebel has joined a crowded field of candidates vying for the Democratic nomination in the March 2018 primary. That field includes Benjamin Webb, a high school teacher; Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, of Springfield; David Gill, a doctor from Bloomington; and Erik Jones, a former Illinois assistant attorney general who lives in Edwardsville.
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“I think it’s a time where voters in the district need to consider all of their options,” Ebel said. “We should be happy, not lamenting, that there are a number of people who are interested in taking this job.”
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professor went to college on an ROTC scholarship, served four years on active duty as a Navy intelligence officer and seven years in the reserves. His stint in the military included being mobilized for the Iraq War in 2003, according to his campaign website.
Ebel, a religion professor, was recently awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, which is allowing him to be away from the classroom starting in January. He normally teaches two courses per semester.
He said the issues that concern him are ones that are shared in the district, which stretches from Champaign-Urbana to Edwardsville.
“Health care. We’re all going to need a doctor, or our loved ones are going to need a doctor at some point. Infrastructure, which we all use, we all benefit from, stimulates the economy and allows people to move around participate and be connected,” Ebel said. “Jobs. There’s nothing that is ennobling to a person quite like work and we need to pursue programs that are going to bring jobs to the areas that need them, and that’s everywhere in this district ... Education, is there anything more universal than that?”
Ebel said his background as a professor would help him approached complex issues that need more than simple solutions.
“We need people who are able to need and research and make decisions based on the facts, that’s what I do. That’s my job as professor and a researcher,” Ebel said. “I read. I read complicated things. I try to understand and interpret them and I think it’s that sort of disposition, not the knee-jerk, ‘I think this is wrong and I’m going to try to smoosh it,’ that we need in government.”
He and his wife, Meredith, have three daughters.
“I think there’s agreement on both sides of aisle that government is not working for the people for whom it should be working and I mean the working and middle-class Americans and working and middle-class families,” Ebel said. “It’s not working because we keep electing the wrong people. Electing people who want to serve the interest of corporate America, and serve the interest of big industry and lost track of what this government of by and for the people is supposed to be.”