ST. CHARLES – St. Charles businessman Jim Coxworth believes that reform is long overdue in Illinois politics.
On Oct. 11, the 64-year-old Coxworth began spreading that message across the state as he embarked on a 187-mile march to Springfield.
The march started with a seven-mile walk from his house in Campton Hills to his office in downtown St. Charles, which is also the headquarters of his nonprofit group Illinois Citizen Uprising.
"I've been following Illinois politics for a lot of years," Coxworth said. "I've never been too active because I'm a small business guy. But it seemed like whoever I elected, whatever I did, whatever I tried, the situation kept deteriorating. The debts kept growing higher and the corruption continued and the system didn't seem to work. It didn't seem like we were being served."
Coxworth and his group are calling for two separate amendments to the Illinois Constitution. The amendments call for eight year term limits for all members of the Illinois General Assembly along with an independent commission to draw the legislative maps.
"You've got to change the game, because they've kind of hijacked the system," he said. "The game changing idea is to have term limits, eight years and out, and no political gerrymandering so they can't change all the districts to ensure they always win. They're going to be out after eight years."
Coxworth said enacting term limits will solve a few problems.
"It gets rid of the corruption, some of it, not all of it," he said. "After eight years, you are going to get a whole crop of new people. You get new blood in, fresh ideas. You don't have someone serving for 40 or 50 years just to hang on to power. That was my idea, to structurally change the rules of the system and bring the power back to the voters and take it away from the career politicians."
He is funding Illinois Citizen Uprising himself. He is president of Cratos LLC, a business consulting company. Coxworth also runs Hammerman USA, a nonprofit organization committed to training young, disadvantaged boys in the sport of hammer throwing. Coxworth, a former All-American hammer thrower from the University of Illinois, serves as head coach at Hammerman USA.
His wife, Angie, joined him on the first day to give him "moral support." Following his walk to his St. Charles office, Coxworth took note of the breezy conditions.
"It's a little windy and a little cold today," he said. "At least we're walking with the wind. It would not be a good day if we were walking against the wind."
If all goes as planned, on Oct. 23, he will arrive at the Lincoln Home National Historic Site and will then walk to his final destination – the Illinois State Capitol. Coxworth, who has a bust of Abraham Lincoln in his office, is a big fan of the 16th president.
"He was a man who did the right thing no matter what public opinion was," he said.
Among those cheering Coxworth on was supporter Scott Morken, who was born and raised in St. Charles.
"Term limits are something that I have believed in for a long time," Morken said. "I would love to see something like that take place. Sombody's got to bring awareness and take a stand, and Jim's willing to do that."