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Balkema opts against running for 11th District seat

Channahon man decides timing isn't right to enter race for Congress

This past summer, Grundy County Board member Chris Balkema was considering running for Congress in the new 11th District, but in the end decided now was not the time.

"I had a great exploratory committee and I'm still interested at some point, but at this point with my family and with two boys ages 7 and 9, I really want to put my family first," Balkema said Thursday.

In August, Balkema announced he was forming an exploratory committee to seek the Republican nomination in the newly redrawn district. Because of the redistricting, the filing was delayed for the congressional seats until just before the end of 2011.

Because no current member of Congress lives within the new 11th Congressional District, the field is wide open and there are six candidates — three from each party — who have filed to represent it.

Running in the Republican primary are Judy Biggert of Hinsdale, John A. "Jack"Cunningham of Aurora, and Diane M. Harris of Joliet. Objections to the nominating petition of each of the three, however, are currently pending with the Illinois State Board of Elections.

In the Democratic primary, candidates are Bill Foster of Naperville, Jim Hickey of Orland Park, and Juan Thomas of Aurora.

Illinois' new 11th District, redrawn for the 2012 election, no longer includes Grundy County, which was moved from the 11th to the 16th Congressional District. The new 11th 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.

Balkema lives in Channahon.

"It's hard for me not to run because I definitely want to serve our country. My experience at Caterpillar gave me a great taste of capitalism at it's best," he said.

In his announcement last summer, Balkema said his 18 years at Caterpillar and local public service made him a good candidate. His goal was to increase manufacturing in America, creating jobs and products made here.

Balkema continues to serve on the Grundy County Board, to which he was elected in 2010. He has also served on the Minooka High School District 111 Board.

"I really want to continue to serve those who put me in office in the first place," he said.

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