EAST MOLINE — Gregg Johnson says he has the values and leadership skills necessary to rebuild the economy and population of western Illinois.

“We have to start investing in our schools and our workplace development in order to create opportunities,” Johnson said.

“I want to make sure that anybody who wants to build their life here can do that. I feel like those opportunities are slipping away. The two-year budget impasse was really catastrophic. There is still a lot of uncertainty.”

Johnson, 54, is the Democratic candidate for the 36th District of the Illinois state Senate. He will face incumbent state Sen. Neil Anderson, R-Andalusia, in the Nov. 6 general election. The 36th District includes portions of Rock Island, Henry, Whiteside and Carroll counties.

In a meeting Tuesday with Dispatch-Argus editorial board members, Johnson said he was inspired to run for office so he could advocate for working families.

“I’m a strong labor person and (Gov.) Bruce Rauner really scared me with his vision of Illinois; I don’t feel that he is supportive of working families,” Johnson said. “I got in the race because I believe in our community. I think there are a lot of people being left behind.

“I’m disappointed; I had hoped Senator Anderson would stand up against the governor on a lot of these issues. I don’t feel he has been assertive enough in pushing our values. Even when (Anderson) ends up on the right side of an issue, a lot of times it takes him until the second vote to do it or during the (veto) override.”