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A discussion with C.J. Baricevic, the Democratic candidate for Illinois’ 12th congressional district

C.J. Baricevic is the Democratic candidate for Illinois' 12th congressional district. He comes from a long line of public servants.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio
C.J. Baricevic is the Democratic candidate for Illinois' 12th congressional district. He comes from a long line of public servants.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we heard from C.J. Baricevic, the Democratic candidate running for Illinois’ 12th congressional district.

Baricevic is a St. Clair County native and comes from a family of public servants. He is a partner in the law firm of Chatham and Baricevic, which specializes in labor law. He has also serves part-time as a public defender.

In recent years, the 12th district has flipped from Democrat to Republican majority. We heard from Green Party candidate Paula Bradshaw about her bid for the seat on Friday. We’ll hear from the incumbent Republican candidate Mike Bost on Friday.

Baricevic responded to a Belleville News-Democrat editorial that ran last week endorsing Bost for the seat saying he respectfully disagreed with the editorialists who thought experience was the only prerequisite for a representative.

"One of the problems with Washington today is that so many people use political office as stepping stones and that is the only reason they run: to one day hold a higher position," Baricevic said. "If that's the kind of ladder we encourage people to take to represent folks at the the federal level, we'll continue to see partisan gridlock where the only objective of our representatives is to continue to find elected office. The reason I want to run is because I want to help. When the opportunity arose for me to possibly be able to help at the federal level, I jumped at it. It has been a real privilege to run."

On local issues, Baricevic addressed criminal justice reform, calling on his experience as a public defender. He also addressed equal pay for women, healthcare, and trade deals. 

Baricevic is 31 years old and said he would be interested in serving on committees dealing with veterans affairs and agriculture to keep in line with his district. He also has concerns about education he would like to see addressed.

"If I get elected, I think I would be the youngest member of Congress and one of, if not the only, member with student loan debt. That's certainly perspective that is lacking Washington D.C."

"If I get elected, I think I would be the youngest member of Congress and one of, if not the only, member with student loan debt," Baricevic said. "That's certainly perspective that is lacking Washington D.C. We have to have this new perspective if we're going to be successful.  My generation is going to inherit some of the burdens placed upon it by Congresses before us. We need to step up to the plate to get rid of this partisan gridlock."

Baricevic said that Bost's years of experience did not necessarily make him the best pick for representative, pointing out that he was not able to secure the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency in the Metro East, losing out to a development in St. Louis city. 

Baricevic also focused heavily on ensuring "southern Illinois coal is still a viable method of energy production. He wants to see more investment in clean coal technology.

"Global climate change is a real thing, but we can't leave our workers behind," Baricevic said. "If we have dirty air, dirty water and all the jobs we can handle, we die. If we have clean air, clean water and no jobs, we riot. We have to transition. We have to continue to utilize coal and the job manufacturing process in southwestern Illinois and work on investing in new technology and new jobs. That can be done with public, private enterprises."

You can read more about Baricevic’s platform and position on certain issues here.

Listen to the full interview here:

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

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Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.

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