Metro-East News

High school teacher campaigning to represent 13th district

Benjamin Webb
Benjamin Webb

With the school year and summer school complete, a freshman English and theater teacher at University High School in Normal has started his campaign for Congress.

Benjamin Webb, 28, is making his first political run. The Normal resident is running for the Democratic nomination in the 13th district with hopes of facing off against U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville.

“You notice a dramatic shift in our schools in our community, online ever since the November election,” Webb said. “I’ve personally noticed things that I have advocated for and taught in my classroom being brought under fire.”

“Your words matter. What you say and who you say it to, they hold a significance. And yet right now, we have a president who can say whatever he wants, and it seems to go off by the way side,” Webb said. “My kids are walking into the classroom, they are seeing what’s happening in politics, what’s going on in Washington, even here in the state, and they’re looking ... They’re seeing from a president, from a legislature, from a government, if you copy from another source and you don’t cite, you won’t get in trouble. If you are of privilege, you will continue to be of privilege. A number of things have been brought into question in my classroom.”

Webb said he wants to engage in conversation to elevate dialogue.

He has not done much in terms of fundraising because he wanted to wait until the school year and summer session were completed.

Now that the school year, including summer school, has ended, Webb said he could start campaigning. However he plans to keep his full-time teaching job when the next school year begins.

He said as he travels to campaign events during the school year, he may be toting along some students’ assignments in order to grade and review.

The Democratic race in the 13th district includes Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, of Springfield, and Dr. David Gill, who ran against Davis in 2012 and lost by 0.3 percentage points. State Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, is exploring a run.

“What’s nice between now and a primary in March is we’re going to get a lot of time to talk with each other. I think that’s especially what this district needs. It needs that dialogue,” Webb said. “What’s going to come of this primary is people of this district really have a lot of options. In the end, it benefits the voters; it gives them a lot of options. What I hope to bring to the table is some views that hopefully are very grassroots and very much from the people in terms of listening, as well as advocating for them, as well as being willing to have the conversation — no matter what party you come from.”

Joseph Bustos: 618-239-2451, @JoeBReporter