Cheri Bustos

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Cheri Bustos
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 17th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Bobby Schilling
Personal details
Born Cheryl L. Callahan
(1961-10-17) October 17, 1961 (age 53)
Springfield, Illinois
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Gerry Bustos
Children Three sons
Residence East Moline, Illinois
Alma mater University of Maryland (B.S.)
University of Illinois, Springfield (M.A.)
Occupation Reporter, health care executive
Religion Roman Catholic
Website Official website
Representative Cheri Bustos

Cheryl L. "Cheri" Callahan-Bustos (born October 17, 1961) is an American politician who has served as the United States Representative for Illinois's 17th congressional district[1][2] since 2013. The district includes most of Illinois's share of the Quad Cities, as well as parts of Peoria and Rockford. Bustos served as an alderman on the East Moline, Illinois, City Council from her election in 2007 until her resignation in 2011.

Early life, education, and private sector career[edit]

Bustos was born in Springfield, Illinois, to Gene and Ann Callahan, one of three children. Her father was chief of staff to Paul Simon when he was lieutenant governor and later chief of staff to Alan Dixon in the Senate,[3] and her mother was a preschool teacher.[4] Bustos attended Springfield High School, graduating in 1979.[5]

Bustos attended Illinois College in 1981, and then the University of Maryland, College Park, where she received her bachelor's degree in political science and history. Bustos enrolled at the University of Illinois, Springfield, where she received her master's degree in journalism.[5]

Bustos worked for 17 years as a reporter and editor at the daily newspaper Quad-City Times, where she reported on instances of corruption in local government.[3]

Later, Bustos spent six years working as senior director of corporate communications at Trinity Regional Health System. In 2008 she was appointed vice president of public relations and communications at Iowa Health System,[3] where she received $306,000 in salary and bonuses in her last full year (2010).[6]

East Moline City Council[edit]


Bustos decided to run for the City Council of East Moline's 4th Ward. She won the Democratic primary with 45% of the vote.[7] She won the general election unopposed.[8][9] B In 2011, she won re-election unopposed.[10]


Before first being elected in 2007, Bustos served on East Moline's Citizen Advisory Committee and the East Moline Plan Commission.[citation needed] In 2009, Bustos received an Athena Business Women's Award.[11]

In February 2010, Bustos secured state and federal money to purchase a $40,000 electronic welcome sign that was placed at the border of East Moline.[12]

In August 2010, Bustos voted for water and sewer rate hikes.[13] In January 2011, Bustos expressed interest in charging residents who do not recycle extra fees to lower the city's landfill costs.[14] In April 2011, Bustos voted for a budget that raised property taxes 4.9% and raised garbage collection fees, saying, "these decisions have been made thoughtfully and thoroughly and during the course of 17 open and public budget sessions."[15] She supported water and sewage increases.[16]

She has been criticized for voting for a $624,000 project to improve 10th Street in East Moline, which runs adjacent to Bustos's house; the Schilling campaign dubbed it the "Bustos Parkway".[17] Schilling's claim was called "reckless, irresponsible fiction" by the editorial board of the Quad-City Times.

After being elected to a second term in May 2011, she resigned in September 2011 to focus on her run for Congress.[18]

Committee assignments[edit]

  • East Moline Downtown Revitalization Committee (Founded and Chaired)[19]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

2012 elections[edit]

The Bustos campaign publicly stated it received the endorsement of about two dozen unions active in the 17th Congressional district, including the Illinois AFL-CIO, AFSCME and the United Auto Workers.[20] During the primary, Bustos received the endorsement of U.S. Senator Dick Durbin.[21] Durbin asked state Senator Dave Koehler and George Gaulrapp to drop out of the race to clear the way for Bustos, who is a close family friend of Durbin.[22] Gaulrapp reported that during a meeting with Durbin about withdrawing, Durbin said that Bustos had babysat for his family and was a close friend.[22] Bustos won the Democratic primary on March 20, 2012, defeating Freeport Mayor George Gaulrapp and businessman Greg Aguilar 54%-26%-20%.[3][23][24]

In the general election, Bustos was one of 39 candidates considered to be the most viable challengers against Republican incumbents to benefit from "Red to Blue" program offered by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.[25] Bustos was endorsed by the Quad-City Times for the general election.[26] In November, she defeated incumbent Republican Bobby Schilling 53%-47%.[27] She'd received a significant boost from redistricting, which replaced Decatur and the district's portion of Springfield with the more Democratic portions of Peoria and Rockford. She is the first Democrat to represent a significant portion of Peoria since 1927, and only the second Democrat since the 1850s to represent a significant portion of Rockford.

2014 elections[edit]

Bustos is being challenged by Schilling for re-election in 2014.

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune editorial board in 2012, Bustos expressed her support for legislation which would cut congressional pay by 10 percent. When asked by a member of the editorial board if she would voluntarily give up 10 percent of her pay should the legislation fail, Bustos said that she would. During the campaign in 2014, she stated: "When I was in Chicago, I said something that I shouldn’t have said, but I never said it on the campaign trail. I never made it as a promise to the people in the 17th Congressional District."[28][29][30][31]

As they did previously in October 2012, Bustos and Schilling have scheduled to debate at the WQAD-TV News 8 studio on October 9, 2014 at 6:30 PM central standard time, with Good Morning Quad Cities anchor Jim Mertens serving as moderator.[32]


Committee assignments[edit]

Political positions[edit]

Shortly after taking office, Bustos joined the bipartisan No Labels group.[33] Her first sponsored legislation would crete a congressional government waste reduction board.[34][35]

Bustos wants to create a "manufacturing triangle" connecting Peoria, the Quad Cities, and Rockford anchored by Caterpillar, John Deere, and the aerospace industry, respectively. She supports putting in place job-training programs at area community colleges to better prepare workers for skilled jobs in manufacturing.[36]

Bustos strongly supports the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare). In October 2012, her congressional campaign website said, "The new reform law is not perfect, but makes real improvements in our health care system. It lowers costs for small businesses and makes sure you have coverage that cannot be taken away. It stops insurance companies from denying coverage of preexisting conditions and allows children to stay on their parents’ health insurance for longer."[37] Bustos, a Catholic, supports the law's White House mandate on contraception, despite the Catholic Church's strong opposition.[38]

Bustos opposes a full extension of the Bush tax cuts.[39]

Bustos supports a 10% pay cut for members of Congress with no further pay raises until the federal budget is balanced. She has been critical of Republicans' approach to balancing the budget and reducing taxes. Bustos favors reducing waste and fraud, ending "tax loopholes for companies that ship jobs overseas," and ending "corporate handouts."[40] She does not support lowering salaries or pensions for federal government employees.[41]

Bustos supports the DREAM Act.[38]

During a debate, Bustos opposed the three trade agreements approved by Congress in 2011 as "NAFTA-style" and said they would result in job losses for Illinois.[41]

Bustos wants to change No Child Left Behind to offer more assistance for teachers while de-emphasizing "teaching to the test," expand Head Start, reform student loans to address rising tuition costs, "protect and expand college scholarships like Pell Grants" and "improve vocational and job training opportunities for children who decide not to attend college."[42]

Personal life[edit]

Bustos is married to Gerry Bustos, a captain with the Rock Island County Police Department and commander of the Quad City Bomb Squad. They have three grown sons and two grandchildren.


  1. ^ John Sharp (March 20, 2012). "Bustos will face Schilling for 17th Congressional seat". Peoria Journal Star. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  2. ^ "Bustos beats Schilling in redrawn 17th District". Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d Chuck Sweeny (March 15, 2012). "3 seek Democratic bid in 17th House District". Rockford Register Star. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  4. ^ "About". Cheri Bustos for Congress. Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Chicago Tribune Editorial board questionnaires & endorsements". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  6. ^ Tibbetts, Ed (March 11, 2012). "Trio runs for chance to unseat Schilling". Quad-City Times. Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Barb Ickes (September 14, 2011). "Bustos vacates East Moline City Council seat". Quad-City Times. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "2009 Athena Business Women's Award winners announced". Dispatch-Argus Quad-Cities Online. February 18, 2009. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  12. ^ East Moline
  13. ^ East Moline approves modified sewer, water rate hike plan
  14. ^ Costs outpace revenue for East Moline garbage collection
  15. ^ East Moline manages priorities
  16. ^ Just the facts please: Answering tough questions about water and sewer bills in EM
  17. ^ TV ad depicts Bustos as working mom who wants to fix Washington
  18. ^ Hocker, Lindsay (September 14, 2011). "Cheri Bustos resigns city council seat; mayor seeking replacement". Quad Cities Online. Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  19. ^ "17th U.S. Congressional, Cheri Bustos (D)". Peoria Journal-Star. October 25, 2012. Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Schilling's 'Democrat' newsletter angers Bustos". October 26, 2012. Retrieved October 31, 2012. 
  21. ^ Giuliani, David (January 5, 2012). "Durbin backs Bustos for Congress". Sauk Valley Media. Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  22. ^ a b Candidate: Durbin asked me to withdraw
  23. ^
  24. ^ Ed Tibbetts (March 20, 2012). "Bustos wins primary". Quad-City Times. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  25. ^ Blake, Matthew (July 30, 2012). "Bustos Draws Contrasts With Schilling On Local Issues". Progress Illinois. Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  26. ^ Times Editorial Board (October 29, 2012). "Bustos for Illinois’ 17th District". Quad-City Times. Retrieved October 31, 2012. 
  27. ^
  28. ^ Tribune board calls out U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos
  29. ^ Bustos admits mistake over pay comment
  30. ^ Nightengale, Laura (12 September 2014). "Rep. Cheri Bustos concedes that she misspoke". JournalStar. 
  31. ^ Lewis, Brittany (22 August 2014). "Schilling says Bustos failed to keep promise on cutting pay". WQAD. 
  32. ^ Nelson, Shellie. "Bustos and Schilling agree to local debate". WQAD News. WQAD News. Retrieved 13 May 2014. 
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^ Kaergard, Chris (October 28, 2012). "Tight contest expected in 17th District". Peoria Journal Star. Retrieved November 1, 2012. 
  37. ^ "Candidate Bio: Cheri Bustos - 17th District". KMSP-TV. October 11, 2012. Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  38. ^ a b Sweeny, Chuck. "Chuck Sweeny: House hopeful Bustos weighs in on health, jobs". Rockford Register Star. Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  39. ^ Sweeny, Chuck (October 14, 2012). "Bobby Schilling, Cheri Bustos spar over job creation". Rockford Register Star. Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  40. ^ "Protecting Taxpayers & Reducing the Deficit". Cheri Bustos for Congress. Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  41. ^ a b Ward, Joe; Cheung, Ariel (October 11, 2012). "17th District debate: Schilling, Bustos square off". Galesburg Register-Mail. Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  42. ^ "Education". Cheri Bustos for Congress. Retrieved October 26, 2012. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Bobby Schilling
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 17th congressional district

January 3, 2013 – present
Succeeded by
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Julia Brownley
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Tony Cardenas