DWIGHT – It’s almost 200 miles from St. Charles to Springfield, and James Coxworth has already walked 60.
Coxworth, founder of the nonpartisan group Illinois Citizen Uprising, is walking from his home near St. Charles to the state capital to advocate for term limits, protest gerrymandering and to call for Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s removal. His journey brought him through Morris on Sunday.
“[I’m walking] to protest the sorry state of our state government and our broken political system,” Coxworth said as he and his team stopped for lunch at the Route 66 Diner in Dwight on Monday.
According to the group’s website, illinoiscitizenuprising.com, Coxworth’s march will take place primarily on Route 66. Coxworth passed through Morris on his way to the Mother Road.
Coxworth said that all state politicians should be limited to eight years of service, in order to promote “fresh blood and fresh ideas.” Also, normal, everyday citizens should run for office instead of just career politicians.
“I don’t care if they’re Republican or Democrat, as long as they’re for these reforms,” Coxworth said. “If Mike Madigan was a Republican and blocking reforms, we’d still want him gone.”
Illinois Citizen Uprising is also advocating for gerrymandering to be banned, according to the group’s website.
Gerrymandering is when a political party in power redraws district lines in order to favor their party in upcoming elections, and it often is associated with odd-shaped districts.
Coxworth said that his message is to Illinois voters. He wants them to know that they can’t keep doing nothing. They’ve got to get energized and demand change from their leaders.
Decked out in a bright orange T-shirt and several layers of warm clothes,
Coxworth said the worst part of his walk so far has been the cold and blisters.
The best part has been people he has met along the way, including a mailman who pulled over and insisted Coxworth take $5 for lunch.
During Coxworth’s trek through Morris, he was joined for 3 miles by a local Korean War veteran.
Illinois Citizen Uprising media relations manager Heather Davern also joined Coxworth at the diner in Dwight. She said that when Coxworth first came up with the idea back in March, she was excited to help.
“Everybody was against it at first, but I said ‘Why not?’ ” Davern said.
Coxworth said he sleeps in motels at night.
“I’m hardcore, but I’m not camping hardcore,” he said.
Illinois Citizen Uprising will hold a news event at 10 a.m. Oct. 23 in Springfield when Coxworth reaches the Capitol Building.