Trio vying for GOP nod in 11th Congressional District primary

By Bill Dwyer for Chronicle Media

Jerry Evans

Susan Hathaway-Altman

Kent Mercado

Three candidates will compete in the GOP 11th Congressional District primary March 19.

All three believe incumbent Bill Foster, a Democrat, has not represented the district well, despite his routinely having gotten well over 60 percent of the vote up until 2022.

The 11th District is politically, socially and economically more diverse than many Illinois districts, encompassing most of McHenry and Kane Counties, and parts of Lake, DeKalb, DuPage, Cook, Boone and Will Counties.

Jerry Evans, 40, of Warrenville, a local DuPage precinct committeeman, is one of two 2024 primary candidates who ran previously. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Wheaton College in 2006, and stayed to start a music school.

His campaign website touts his business background, citing his knowledge of “what it means to sign the front of a paycheck, not just the back.” He said he is running “to bring servant leadership back to Washington and the 11th Congressional District.”

Evans calls Foster “too radical for the district,” and accuses him and Democrats of “spending trillions of dollars in political pork packages.”

Evans takes credit for managing to “not to lose any jobs during the (COVID) pandemic, providing for my employees’ 15 families,” but doesn’t mention that he applied for and received more than $71,000 in federal PPP COVID relief funds in May 2020.

Evans acknowledged in 2022 that there is a place for federal programs, and “I want everyone to know that when the cogs of the federal bureaucracy get stuck, my office will be there to get them working again.”

Evans finished second in a six-candidate 2022 primary with 22.5 percent. But that effort saw him out-fundraised by primary winner Catalina Lauf by a 15-to-1 margin.

Through Sept 30, he has raised just over $100,000, all from others’ contributions. He recently held a fundraiser/meet and greet in Naperville, where his campaign office is located, and has another event scheduled for February.

The other 2022 primary veteran running this year is Susan Hathaway-Altman of Geneva. Hathaway-Altman, who is chief sales officer for AmTrav Business Travel in Chicago, promises to use her “30+ years of supply chain experience in corporate America to work for you in the House to end Inflation and take us out of economic crisis.”

Among the issues she sees as most pressing are “becoming more energy independent, lowering taxes, and “closing our borders.” She also calls for school choice (a local issue) and to “free our parental voice.”

Hathaway-Altman, however, who finished fourth in the 2022 GOP primary behind Evans, has shown little ability to attract political contributions. Of the $24,000 she’s raised so far in 2024, according to the Federal Election Commission, nearly $19,000 is from personal loans to her campaign. That mirrors her 2022 effort, in which more than $17,000 of the $18,400 she raised were loans from herself.

The newcomer in 2024 is physician and attorney Kent Mercado, of Bartlett.

He says that “our strength lies in our diversity,” and that he’s committed to “advocating for fair and compassionate policies.”

Mercado lists Infrastructure maintenance and improvement as a “critical part of our district’s needs,” citing obsolete roads and bridges built in the ’50s and ’60s.

He also notes that “almost all of us come from an immigrant family,” and says America has “always been a country that welcomes those who legally come to the United States …”

Mercado has so far mostly funded his campaign through $22,500 in personal loans, but has scheduled a fundraiser for Jan 31 in Woodstock.