Greg Aguilar

Contributed photo

A 31-year-old East Moline man says he is joining an already crowded field of Democrats seeking to challenge U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill.

Greg Aguilar, the director of multicultural services at Augustana College, Rock Island, said Thursday he’s running “because I want to give the middle class a voice again in Washington.”

This will be Aguilar’s first bid for public office, and he joins several others seeking the Democratic nomination in Illinois’ 17th Congressional District.

He says he can identify with people in the district, having come from a working-class family and working to pay off student loans and a mortgage.

He says his goals would be to help people on Social Security and Medicare and to work for economic development and education funding. “People have to wait months, if not years, to get their disability payments. That’s not right,” he said.

He also said he’s tired of government shortchanging education.

Aguilar said he supports the Rock Island Arsenal and funding for passenger rail through the Quad-Cities, and that he would lay out more specific ideas on economic development when he makes a formal announcement in the fall.

Aguilar joins Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria, East Moline Alderwoman Cheri Bustos, Freeport Mayor George Gaulrapp and Rock Island attorney Eric Reyes in the race. Former Rep. Mike Boland of East Moline has said he’ll announce whether he’s going to run after Labor Day.

The 17th District, which was just redrawn, will include the Illinois Quad-Cities, as well as parts of Peoria and the Rockford area, in the 2012 election. It’s one of the districts congressional Democrats believe they can swing back to their column next year.

Schilling, who won his first term last year, intends to seek re-election.