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Local

Balkema joins GOP race in 11th Congressional

NORTH AURORA – In announcing that he is running for Congress in the 11th Congressional District, Grundy County Board member Chris Balkema on Tuesday said he would work to break the gridlock in Congress.

“That is unproductive to the average family in America that is trying to make ends meet,” Balkema said after his announcement at Superior Asphalt in North Aurora, a division of Geneva Construction. Balkema said the country needed “another 100,000 of these businesses around the country to fuel the economic engine.”

Balkema is running for the seat now held by U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville. Balkema will run as a Republican in the March 18 primary election, and will face challengers like conservative talk show host Ian Bayne of Aurora and State Rep. Darlene Senger, R-Naperville.

Balkema has been a manager at Caterpillar for 20 years and has been on the Grundy County Board since 2010.

John Bryan, president of Geneva Construction, said he is worried about reduced federal dollars for transportation needs and the impact that would have.

“We are the business of the middle class,” Bryan said. “We are the people that employ them. It’s not only good for the local economy, but also good for the Midwest.”

Bryan said he has not yet endorsed a candidate in the race.

The 11th District includes North Aurora, Aurora, Naperville, Lisle and Joliet. Balkema lives in Channahon with his wife, Jill, and their two sons, but he said his job has made him familiar with all parts of the district.

“I spend a lot of time in lots of different parts of the district,” Balkema said.

Foster has held the seat since November after defeating former U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert. From 2008 to 2011, Foster represented Illinois’ 14th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Foster was defeated November 2010 by then-state Sen. Randy Hultgren, R-Winfield.

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