Cheri Bustos ContactBack to top
Address: 1009 LHOB, DC 20515
Phone: (309) 786-3406
Address: 2401 Fourth Avenue, Rock Island IL 61201-8022
Phone: (309) 966-1813
Address: 3100 North Knoxville Avenue, Peoria IL 61603-1047
Phone: (815) 968-8011
Address: 119 North Church Street, Rockford IL 61101-1034
Cheri Bustos StaffBack to top
Cheri Bustos CommitteesBack to top
Cheri Bustos BiographyBack to top
- Elected: 2012, 1st term.
- District: Illinois 17
- Born: Oct. 17, 1961, Springfield
- Home: East Moline
Illinois College; University of Maryland, B.S., 1983; University of Illinois (Springfield), M.A., 1985
- Professional Career:
Vice president, Iowa Health Systems, 2008-12; senior director, Trinity Regional Health System, 2002-08; reporter, Quad City Times, 1985-2002.
- Political Career:
East Moline City Council, 2007-11
- Ethnicity: White/Caucasian
- Family: Married (Gerry Bustos); 3 children
Democrat Cheri Bustos in 2012 took advantage of her roots in Illinois politics—her father was a former chief of staff for Democratic Sen. Alan Dixon—and the district’s Democratic leanings to unseat Rep. Bobby Schilling, who had ridden the Republican wave to victory in 2010.
Bustos grew up in the state capital of Springfield. Her mother was a social worker and preschool teacher, and her father was a journalist before entering government. Her first paid job was selling tacos and lemonade at the Illinois State Fair. As a 10-year-old, she met future Democratic Sens. Paul Simon and Dick Durbin, who at the time was a staffer for then-Lt. Gov. Simon. After attending Illinois College, where she excelled at basketball and volleyball, Bustos graduated from the University of Maryland in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and history. She earned a master’s degree in journalism at the University of Illinois two years later, and moved to the Quad Cities metro area to take a job as a reporter with the Quad-City Times, where she covered city government, crime, health care, and other issues over a 17-year career. Her husband, Gerry, is a captain in the Rock Island Police Department and commander of the Quad City Bomb Squad.
After leaving journalism, Bustos went into public relations for regional health care providers, most recently as the vice president of public relations and communications for Iowa Health System. Health-related issues are a key concern for her: She lost her uninsured sister-in-law to cancer two years ago, and her brother to cancer months later, after his insurance refused to cover the medication he needed. President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, she told National Journal, is “at least in the right direction,” but Bustos insists that more has to be done to improve what she calls a “broken” system.
She got into politics with a run for the City Council in East Moline, and served from 2007 to 2011. She emphasized economic development, founding and chairing the East Moline Downtown Revitalization Committee.
As the 2012 election approached, Democrats were eager to reclaim the 17th District House seat from freshman Republican Schilling, and redrew the district lines after the 2010 census to make it more Democratic. When Bustos entered the race, her friendship with Durbin paid off—he provided a rare primary endorsement in January 2012 and urged other Democrats to exit the race. She went on to win the primary over two other candidates with 54% of the vote.
Her race in the fall against pizzeria owner Schilling became one of the biggest in Illinois outside the Chicago area, with about $1 million pumped in from the Democratic and Republican congressional campaign committees. Bustos received an early endorsement from abortion rights group EMILY’s List and was backed by several labor unions. Schilling aligned himself with tea party activists, speaking at National Tea Party Express events.
The race was negative. Bustos called her opponent “extreme” on abortion rights and suggested he didn’t care about women’s health. Meanwhile, national Republicans ran an ad accusing her of voting to spend $625,000 on improvements to the road “connecting her street to her local country club.” The ad was debunked—repairs began before Bustos served on the council, and she simply joined other members in approving the project’s second phase. In addition, she never belonged to the country club. She won, 53% to 47%.Show Less