Current Position: Meteorologist of District 17
Candidate: 2022 US Representative for District 17
Source: Campaign page
Rockford Born and Raised
I was born and raised in Rockford. Being outside has always been important to my family, and some of my earliest memories are floating down the Kishwaukee River (a tradition we continue today). My grandparents were active in my life. With both my grandpas having served in WWII, they instilled in me the value of service.
The Value of Hard Work
Growing up, I was terrified of storms. But my local weatherman, “TV Eric,” explained what was happening, and helped me feel safe during them. From a young age I knew that I wanted to be “TV Eric,” and at age 27 that dream came true when I became the Chief Meteorologist at WREX in Rockford.
Paying it forward, I started Project Tornado, an initiative that brings meteorologists into schools to help kids feel safer during severe weather, educating 50,000 students. After 11 years working in Rockford, I moved to Moline and spent seven years delivering weather to the Quad Cities.
Serving My Community
I came out while attending Northern Illinois University and received tremendous support from my friends and family. After graduating college, I moved south to Texas for my first television job. I remember my dad telling me that things would be “different” for me in Texas, and that it shouldn’t be that way. Unfortunately, he was right, and I experienced discrimination in that first job. I was called into my bosses’ office with a copy of my contract sitting on the desk and the “moral clause” highlighted. I was told that I couldn’t be gay and work there.
My experiences in Rockford and the Quad Cities were quite different — I was able to be out on TV! And in the Quad Cities, I took a more active role in our LGBTQ community — serving on the boards of Clock, Inc and The Project of the Quad Cities, initiatives that aim to connect vulnerable individuals to health services. This is part of serving your community that I learned from my grandpas.
Today I live in Moline with my partner Shawn and our two dogs Oliver and Petey. We enjoy bike riding, kayaking, and exploring good food in the Quad Cities and surrounding areas.
Source: Campaign page
Why I’m Running
For two decades, I was your weatherman. I spent 22 years keeping you safe by telling the truth, informing, and educating our communities daily. Because telling you how the weather impacted your jobs, schools, weekends, and yes, sometimes your lives, I earned your trust through thousands of broadcasts bringing you the daily weather and important updates about “once in a century” storms.
To me, being a meteorologist has always been about protecting our neighbors and our communities, values I learned from my family at an early age.
Economy & Jobs
Creating Sustainable Jobs:
Eric is committed to making sure that we’re creating good-paying, sustainable jobs in Central and Northwest Illinois. Eric feels fortunate to have had the chance to live and work in his hometown of Rockford, and wants others to have that opportunity as well.
Eric believes it is our responsibility to support future generations of Illinoisans by creating economic opportunities in our communities.
Environment & Energy
Addressing Climate Change:
Early in his career, Eric started discussing climate change with his viewers when it was not a popular thing to do. To him, it isn’t political; his job as a meteorologist is to speak the truth. In Central and Northwest Illinois, we know that climate change is real — whether it was the 2021 summer drought or, the August 2020 derecho with 100 miles per hour winds, or the record-high Mississippi River flood of 2019. And as the water was rising, it was people coming together from all walks of life to fill sandbags that protected our small businesses. Climate change is not a partisan issue.
There is not a single climate communicator in Congress who matches the communication and climate science backgrounds of Eric.
Eric’s job was to communicate climate to help YOU in your day-to-day life. Climate change is real and serious. Now is the time to act, and we need an experienced climate communicator to lead.
Health & Education
Strengthening Our Health Care:
Eric believes that everyone should have access to quality and affordable health care.
Several years ago, Eric received a medical procedure that saved his life. When the bill came, he let it sit on the counter for days out of fear of what was inside. When he opened the envelope, he was shocked. His health insurance made the care affordable. Eric knew he was fortunate to have health care coverage that kept treatment expenses manageable, and he knows far too many in our community don’t have that privilege.
Eric supports protecting and improving the Affordable Care Act to ensure health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. He supports allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices to lower costs and the creation of a public option to expand access to coverage.
Health care is an equity issue for Eric. Students can’t focus in school and people can’t focus on making a living when they don’t feel well, either physically or mentally In addition, Eric will work to fight any discrimination in health care that members of the LGBTQ community face. We need to be setting people up for success, and quality, affordable health care is essential to providing opportunity for all.
Eric believes that everyone has the right to be well, and that means receiving care that doesn’t cause financial jeopardy.
Preventing the Next Pandemic:
With the COVID-19 global pandemic directly impacting our health and economy, Eric believes it is more important than ever to take steps to prepare for the pandemics of the future. Rather than focus just on response measures, we have the opportunity to take a proactive approach to get ahead of the next pandemic. And that means investing in technology and biosecurity measures today.
Just like forecasting a storm, planning for pandemics is about focusing on the details and making sure we have all tools ready at our disposal. It also means making sure that those responsible for keeping us safe have the resources (including runway time) to keep our communities ahead of threats.
Eric believes that we cannot sit back and wait for the next pandemic (or variant) to be upon us. He believes that the federal government should take an active role in investing in preparation measures, including technical, medical, and community responses. That is how we can best keep our communities healthy and working.
Investing in Our Schools
When Eric speaks with students about climate and severe weather, he asks who’s going to be the one to find a cure for cancer or the one who’s going to develop technology that will help evacuate a town before a tornado comes. More often than not, the students point at him, to which he responds that it will actually be one of them. Our students are our future and they will be the ones to discover tomorrow’s innovations.
Eric believes that we need to make sure schools and teachers have the resources they need to provide a fair, accessible, and quality education for the next generation.