Eric will be the first out LGBTQ person elected to congress from Illinois!
Eric is a former meteorologist born and raised in Rockford, IL running for U.S. Congress. Being outside has always been important to his family, and some of his earliest memories are floating down the Kishwaukee River (a tradition they continue today). Eric’s grandparents were active in his life. With both his grandpas having served in WWII, they instilled in him the value of service.
Growing up, Eric was terrified of storms. But his local weatherman, “TV Eric,” explained what was happening, and helped him feel safe during them. From a young age he knew that he wanted to be “TV Eric,” and at age 27 that dream came true when he became the Chief Meteorologist at WREX in Rockford. Paying it forward, Eric started Project Tornado, an initiative that brings meteorologists into schools to help kids feel safer during severe weather, educating 50,000 students. After 11 years working in Rockford, he moved to Moline and spent seven years delivering weather to the Quad Cities.
He came out while attending Northern Illinois University and received tremendous support from his friends and family. After graduating college, he moved south to Texas for his first television job. He remembers his dad telling him that things would be “different” for him in Texas, and that it shouldn’t be that way. Unfortunately, he was right, and Eric experienced discrimination in that first job. He was called into my bosses’ office with a copy of his contract sitting on the desk and the “moral clause” highlighted. He was told that he couldn’t be gay and work there.
Eric’s experiences in Rockford and the Quad Cities were quite different — he was able to be out on TV! And in the Quad Cities, he took a more active role in the LGBTQ community — serving on the boards of Clock, Inc and The Project of the Quad Cities, initiatives that aim to connect vulnerable individuals to health services. This is part of serving your community that he learned from his grandpas.
Today Eric lives in Moline with his partner Shawn and their two dogs Oliver and Petey. They enjoy bike riding, kayaking, and exploring good food in the Quad Cities and surrounding areas.
Eric has seen firsthand the importance of establishing trust with the community, and he is determined to use his expertise as a climate communicator to fight for Illinoisans on environmental justice and more in Washington.