'It's ripping the country apart' — Will County residents react to impeachment

Will County residents get engaged in debate over impeachment of Trump

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The expected impeachment of President Donald Trump by the House of Representatives continues to divide observers and activists throughout the country, including those in Will County.

As members of the House debated the two articles of impeachment they were expected to vote on late Wednesday, some Joliet area residents were just as split about the issue.

“It’s a sham,” said Shorewood resident Eric Freeman, 63. “It’s people in Congress that are bitter that they lost the election. They’re trying to screw everything up.”

Freeman, a Republican, added that he thought the impeachment process would hurt the Democratic Party and “drive a bigger wedge between government and the public.”

Joliet resident Lisa Juarez Aguirre, 50, said she thought Trump should be impeached because of his policies, especially in regard to immigration, which she called racist.

“He’s not right for doing all the stuff that he’s doing,” she said. “He’s got a lot of stuff in his past he don’t want people to know about and it needs to come out and he needs to be gone.”

Juarez Aguirre added that she blamed Trump himself for the division across the country, saying he was “bringing the country down.”

Activists both for and against the impeachment process were also busy planning rallies around Will County and the surrounding area to make their cases and vent frustration.

Hundreds rallied in Naperville on Tuesday night in support of impeachment. Will County Board member Rachel Ventura, D-Joliet, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Bill Foster for his seat in Congress, spoke at the rally calling for Trump to be impeached and removed from office.

Ventura said Trump was "promoting and elevating hate in the world" and linked his statements and policies to alleged racist incidents in Naperville and around the country.

“We have a criminal in the White House,” Ventura said.

The Southwest Suburban Activists also held a rally Tuesday night in Frankfort, in which organizers echoed Democrats’ argument that “no one is above the law.” Emily Biegel, a member of the group, said she felt it was her duty as a citizen to voice her opinion supporting Trump’s impeachment.

“It was a pro-democracy rally,” Biegel said.

Anti-impeachment activists and candidates for public office also decried local Democratic members of the House as they announced they would vote for the articles this week.

Rick Laib, a Republican candidate for the 11th Congressional District, along with supporters, dropped off a letter at Foster’s Joliet office on Tuesday asking him to reconsider his decision to vote for impeachment.

“It is not too late to demand more evidence,” the letter read. “It is not too late to reconsider.”

Brandon Harris, president of Will County Young Republicans, called on U.S. Reps. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, and Sean Casten, D-Downers Grove, to resign their seats. He said this moment will provide a “massive opportunity” for Republicans to take advantage of the anger and frustration in response to Trump’s impeachment.

“I do think we’re going to see a red wave,” Harris said.

He and many area Republicans are planning an anti-impeachment rally at the intersection of Route 45 and Route 30 in Frankfort at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Will County Board member Steve Balich, R-Homer Glen, a Trump supporter, said he was “disgusted” by how the impeachment process played out. Still, Balich acknowledged the other side’s position and said they had a constitutional right to make their case and put on their own demonstrations.

“They’re just so frustrated,” Balich said. “It’s ripping the country apart.”

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.