Kinzinger discuses leadership, time in office at leadership summit

Maddi Loiselle and Aelsa Butler

Adam Kinzinger gathered with high
school students from across the 16th Congressional District for the Fourth Annual
Leadership Summit on Nov. 9 at IVCC in
the Cultural Center, where he spoke to
them about being a leader.
 
“Sometimes it can be overwhelming,”
he said of his position in leadership, “because [the constituents] look to you to
solve everything. Government, I believe,
can’t solve everything, but we can sure try
to do everything we can to help.”
 
He told them that, despite this, it is rewarding to represent the concerns of the
district in DC. “Don’t run against me,
though, it’s not that good of a job. I’ll crush
you if you run against me,” he joked, to the
laughter of his audience.
 
After Kinzinger told the high school
students about his life and his journey to
being a representative, he opened it up for
questions from the students.
 
One asked how he handled the backlash from supporters or opponents for his
decisions, to which he replied that he “just
handle[s] it. You have to remind yourself
what the job means.” He said that he wanted this job so he can lead his district justly and do what he believes is right for the
country.
 
Kinzinger said that the thing that made
him want to run was during the war in
Afghanistan, George W. Bush wanted to
keep fighting when everyone around him
said otherwise. Kinzinger said that Bush’s
response was “we are not going to lose this
war.” Bush’s confidence to stand alone for
what he felt was right inspired the Representative to run for office.
 
Kinzinger then introduced the next
speaker, Carl Cannon. From working as a
correction officer, Cannon learned that a
lot of the inmates could have avoided incarceration if there was an intervention at
a young age.
 
He started the ELITE Youth Program
for Peoria area schools. In this program, he
taught students how to respect themselves
and others and how to prepare for careers.
 
He then explained that the program
has extended to released convicts, too. The
program helps them find jobs and get back
into society.
 
After Cannon, Marc Goldwein led the
students in an activity about Social Security.
He said that the federal program is losing money fast, so he had the students adjust tax percentage and retirement age that
could keep the program in use.
 
Goldwein said that if high school students could fix the Social Security issues,
then Congress should have no trouble addressing it as well.
After the event, Kinzinger took questions from the media, including reporters
from the IV Leader.
 
Kinzinger responded to questions
about the election, calling it a “victory” for
Republicans, and expressed his determination to work with President-Elect Trump
to “continue to represent the interests of
the 16th D, but also do some big things.”
Among these “big things,” the Congressman mentioned tax reforms and infrastructure improvements.
 
His tone seems to have shifted since
earlier in the campaign season: back in August, Kinzinger said that he could not endorse Donald Trump for president, telling
CNN that while he would not be voting for
Hillary Clinton, he felt compelled to “skip”
Trump.
 
When asked how he would respond to
IVCC students and others struggling with
the outcome of the election, Kinzinger said
America will pull through this divisive
time: “America has survived presidents
of all stripes, from all ideologies and everything else, and we’re a country that no
matter what side of this debate you’re on,
we’re going to survive.”
 
He also expressed a desire for unity
across party lines, despite fundamental
differences. “My hope is that we have a
chance to reach out, not only to our own
party, but to Democrats, and say, ‘Where
are areas we can find common ground?
What are some big things we can achieve
together, and try to bring this country back
to a position of being united?’ We can always disagree on issues—you’re never going to have unity on issues—but it becomes
less personal.”
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