Our county used to be a hotbed of manufacturing. Our friends, families and neighbors used to work for giants like A.O. Smith and Roper. At their peak, those plants employed thousands of area residents, providing good wages and a solid income to raise a family.

We all know the next chapter in the story of our home -- those factories closed, putting thousands out of work. When those factories left, some families relocated, while others retooled their skills because they wanted to continue to call our county home, but we never truly recovered. Unemployment remained high, and income growth was slow. The after-effects of the factory closings rippled throughout our community, negatively affecting every single family, and the closings continue to affect us today.

Some believe our beloved home is never coming back -- that the challenges we face are too great for us to overcome. I refuse to believe that. I know we have it in our power to bring back our community, but we're being held back by a state government that refuses to change -- a state government dominated by one man, Mike Madigan, and his Chicago political machine.

That is why we need to re-elect Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2018.

Since day one, Gov. Rauner has been leading the fight for reform in Springfield. Every day, he's taking the fight straight to Madigan and his allies, making sure state government works for and is accountable to the people once again.

Gov. Rauner's agenda is the people's agenda, and it's an agenda to bring back Kankakee -- invest in education, roll back Madigan's 32 percent tax hike and reduce red tape and job-killing regulations. That means, more jobs and higher take-home pay for the people of our community. Better schools, lower taxes and less regulation are exactly what we need to get our economy moving forward again.

Gov. Rauner's reform efforts don't end there. He's fighting to root out corruption at it's core -- the state Capitol. Madigan is doing everything he can to protect the career politicians. So, it's no surprise that Madigan opposes term limits and ethics reform. Politicians should be term-limited and put under a microscope every single day so we can keep them accountable. Public service should be about serving the people, not self-service, and that's why Gov. Rauner won't stop until the job is done.

I don't agree with Gov. Rauner on everything. And I know we are all frustrated on how powerful Madigan is and how he refuses to change, but I also know this -- if we want to change Illinois and make state government reflect our values and priorities, we need Gov. Rauner there to keep the politicians in check and work to end Madigan's power.

This next election isn't about Republican versus Democrat. It's about reform versus the status quo. It's about the people of Illinois versus a corrupt political machine. That's exactly why we need Rauner.

Our county can prosper once again, and so can our state, as long as we dedicate ourselves to continuing the fight for reform in Springfield. I hope you'll join me in supporting Gov. Bruce Rauner next year because elections are greater than any single issue -- they're about our home. And home is worth fighting for.

Andy Wheeler

Kankakee County Board chairman