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EAST MOLINE -- Democrat Joan Padilla is taking another shot at State Rep. Tony McCombie, R-Savanna. 

Padilla announced her candidacy Wednesday at the East Moline American Legion, 829 16th Ave., before a small crowd that included Rock Island County Democratic Party leaders. 

"I've done a lot of reflection over the last several months," Padilla said. "I'm still called to serve; I want to serve my community in the best way possible. I feel it's time we start to redirect and grow our district as opposed to all the negativity. It's time to make a change.

"I'm here today to announce I am running for representative of the 71st District. We're going to work hard and bring good things," Padilla said. 

McCombie defeated Padilla in the November 2018 general election with 59 percent of the vote. McCombie, the former mayor of Savanna, won Rock Island County by 57 percent and Henry County by 62 percent. 

The 71st District also covers parts of Mercer, Whiteside and Carroll counties, including the cities of Peoria, Rockford and Sterling. 

Padilla, 55, is confident she can defeat McCombie in 2020.

"I looked at the numbers precinct by precinct," Padilla said. "I know there are areas I did not go into as strongly as I should have. We are going to have a whole new strategic approach for this campaign."

With a campaign slogan of, "Grow the 71st District," Padilla feels she can harness the momentum of newly elected Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

"I feel that with the bold and positive moves of J.B. Pritzker, we are going to be able to reach those people with a strong message of growth," she said. "I worked very hard on the 2018 campaign and my experience was wonderful. I met so many people."

Padilla was introduced by Gregg Johnson, who ran for State Senate in 2018 and lost to incumbent Neil Anderson, R-Andalusia. 

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"I walked neighborhoods with Joan as she knocked on 10,000 doors," Johnson said. "No one works harder than Joan. There are a lot of positive things coming out of Springfield, but the current representative had nothing to do with it. We need to change that."

"I'm not going to spend three hours telling you how bad the current representative (McCombie) is because I'd have to spend six hours telling you how great Joan is."

During the 2018 campaign, Padilla supported the legalization of marijuana, but not an expansion of gaming or sports betting. 

"I came up short on election night. But my concern today is the representation of the 71st District is coming up short for the working men, women and their families that live here," Padilla said. 

Padilla criticized McCombie for voting against increasing minimum wage to $15 an hour.

"Think about that; a bill that will lift up so many people and give them an opportunity at a better life," Padilla said.

"McCombie voted against the capital bill. It's going to create hundreds of new jobs — jobs that pay a very good wage. It's a plan that will invest tens of millions of dollars in economic development toward much-needed roads, bridges and statewide broadband." 

"Major capital bills only come around once a decade or so," Padilla said. "When you are a state representative, you have to be ready to vote. Rep. McCombie voted no. If you are a strong leader, you make sure you get funding. Your votes are your values. In this campaign, it comes down to a simple question; do you want a state rep who will work tirelessly to create jobs? Or do you want a state rep who just says no?"

Padilla is the executive director at Home of Hope Cancer Wellness Center in Dixon. 

Prior to her employment at Home of Hope, Padilla worked as a dental hygienist for 28 years before returning to college at Western Illinois University. She graduated in 2012 with a bachelor of arts and science degree in liberal arts.

Padilla lives in Sterling and has four grown children, ranging from ages 28 to 18, and two granddaughters. She is a board member of the Sauk Valley Community College Foundation and served five years as a trustee on the college's board.

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