CHANNAHON — Manufacturing professional and community leader Chris Balkema announced Saturday the formation of an exploratory committee to seek the Republican nomination for U.S. Congress in Illinois' newly redrawn 11th District.
Balkema touted his 18 years of experience in the manufacturing industry with one of Illinois' leading employers and cited his extensive record of public service at the local level for reasons behind his interest in seeking the Congressional seat. He would run in the March 2012 primary with hopes of advancing to the November 2012 general election.
"In order to create jobs and restore economic opportunity for middle-class families, we need to start making things here in America again," Balkema said. "Manufacturing is what built the U.S. economy into an international leader throughout the 20th century, an edge we've seen decline sharply in recent years. I bring a unique manufacturing perspective to the national debate about the direction we must take as a country moving forward, focusing on the need to create jobs, products and opportunity here in America."
"Coming from a business background, and as a husband and father who is active in my community, I share the frustration of families throughout the 11th District about how Washington D.C. is growing more and more out of touch," Balkema added. "I am exploring a run for Congress to give our families their voice back to our national debate and truly get control of the explosive debt that threatens our kids' future."
Adam Kinzinger currently represents what is now the 11th District. Kinzinger, who would live in the new 2nd District and could seek that seat, would mostly likely run in the new 16th District, which includes much of the current 11th District.
An employee of Caterpillar, Inc. since 1993, currently based in Joliet, Ill., Balkema has served Illinois' leading manufacturing company in a variety of roles; from logistics and procurement to purchasing and scheduling management, human resources and operations management, and, most recently, as an engineering cost manager.
Locally, Balkema was elected to the Minooka Community High School District 111 Board in 2009, where he was instrumental in leading the successful effort to reduce the local property tax levy rate. Balkema then won election to the Grundy County Board in 2010, unseating two Democrate incumbents. In his current role with the county, he works to bring conservative budget principles back to county government.
"Chris Balkema is a conscientious public servant, someone who really cares about his community," Minooka Village President Patrick Brennan said. "Chris is to-the-point, doesn't pull punches and is firm against raising taxes. He would do a nice job in Washington D.C."
Balkema earned his undergraduate degree in business systems from Taylor University and a master's degree in business administration at Bradley University. Locally, Balkema is actively involved as a member of the Channahon/Minooka Chamber of Commerce, Minooka Lions Club and the Heritage Foundation.
Balkema and his wife, Jill, reside in Channahon with their two young sons. They attend The Village Christian Church in Minooka.
Illinois' new 11th District, redrawn for the 2012 election, includes Aurora Township in Kane County, portions of Naperville, Lisle and Downers Grove Townships in DuPage County, portions of Joliet, Plainfield, Troy, Lockport, New Lenox, Wheatland, DuPage and Jackson Townships in Will County, small portions of Oswego, Bristol, and Na-Au-Say Townships in Kendall County, and a small portion of western Lyons Township in Cook County.