Yesterday, the News-Gazette reported that "James Tinsley, a candidate for the Champaign County Board in the Nov. 8 election, has filed a request asking that all records related to his 2009 arrest and his subsequent guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of unlawful possession of firearms be sealed from public view."

Today, Tinsley responded to that article:

In light of the recent article in the News Gazette highlighting my attempt to seal my past conviction I feel the need to respond.  It is my intention to “clear the record” (pun intended) about my motivations.  The objectives behind petitioning to have my criminal records sealed have nothing to do with my political endeavors, in fact, this is the third time I have started down this road and when I tried to seal them years ago I had no intentions of running for office.  I simply wanted to increase my odds of finding a stable source of employment to provide for my family and that is the driving force behind it now.

I am not ashamed of the mistakes I’ve made in my life.  Honestly, I actually embrace them. Without doing so, the power and to process those acknowledgements and turn them into wisdom and understanding would not exist. I understand the roadblocks my friends, family and other people who live in the County Board District 11 face when they are saddled with a criminal conviction.  I have lived it and I disagree with any arguments that suggest that I should be further judged by my actions in the past.,

I can’t stop people from judging me based on some mistake or mistakes I may have made in the past but I can set the record straight today. I am a father, husband, tax paying, up standing citizen and I’m on the verge of graduating from the University of Illinois and being an elected official for County Board District 11.  I believe the debt of my mistakes have been paid to society so I, and others who have a conviction, should be treated as such.

One of the biggest reasons I decided to run for elected office is because I want people who have had their dreams crushed, those who don’t see their way out of their situation to be able to look at me and see how I came from the same environment and had the same thought process many of them may have and they will see how I embraced education and changed my thinking and thus changed my life.  That’s my reward, because this is my home. My community and those I hope to soon be my constituents need to see people like me overcome obstacles and never give up!

Observing figures like Aaron Ammons become an Alderman and Carol Ammons become State Representative sold me on the fact that I too could make a difference from within. That’s what I aim to prove to the next person who wants to make a difference; that it’s “growth for life,” and it’s never too late to change.

Since those mistakes I have gone above and beyond to make a better man of myself. A man that some may never accept, but just because some chose not to accept me for who I am today, it does not, and it will not change who I am.