Why a Campton Hills man is hiking 187 miles to Springfield
Jim Coxworth has had enough of Illinois politics.
He says he's sick of the debt, the corruption and the unfunded pensions. He's tired of career politicians blocking reforms that could effect change.
So on Thursday morning, Coxworth left his Campton Hills home on foot, dressed in a bright orange shirt carrying nothing but a backpack and the Illinois and American flags.
His destination: Springfield.
Earlier this year, Coxworth put his own money into launching Illinois Citizen Uprising, a nonpartisan St. Charles-based organization focused on demanding change in the state legislature. He's hoping his 187-mile solitary trek will shine a light on two issues in particular: term limits and gerrymandering.
"It's a broken system," he said. "If we don't get active, we'll never get it fixed."
The idea to march to Springfield stems from former Gov. Dan Walker, a "dark horse" candidate who campaigned by walking across the state, Coxworth said. The concept was successful in getting Walker elected in 1972, he said, and it might be just unusual enough to get people to pay attention now.
Coxworth, a lifelong Illinois resident, said he wants to see a constitutional amendment that would set eight-year term limits for all members of the General Assembly. He also is pushing for independent maps to stop politicians from drawing their own districts.
To bring upon those reforms, Coxworth said he believes the state needs to get rid of longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat. Anyone who serves as an obstacle for progress, regardless of their political party, has no place in state government, he said.
Coxworth plans to hike 15 miles each day, ending Oct. 23 at the Capitol steps. He's expected to pass through the Tri-Cities, Aurora and Morris before heading south on Route 66 until he reaches Springfield. He'll find hotels and places to sleep along the way -- all at his own expense.
"I'm just a small business guy who's really upset with the state he loves and the way it's run. It never seems to get better, always just seems to get worse," Coxworth said. "I'm trying to change the system. It's nonpartisan. It's for everybody."