By Peter Winslow
Voters will determine the fate of 3rd and 7th Congressional district candidates on Tuesday, March 17, casting ballots to decide who will represent the Democratic and Republican parties to become members of Congress in Washington, DC, for the next two-year term. The general election will be Tuesday, Nov. 3.
3rd District (D)
Rush Darwish is a former a sports broadcaster of ten years and founded his own multimedia production company, Rush Productions. Darwish served as an executive on the board of the American Middle East Voters Alliance Political Action Committee (AMVOTE PAC) and the Arab-American Business Professional Association and is involved with the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund.
Darwish wants the country to transition gradually from a private-public healthcare structure into a comprehensive Medicare-for-All system.
Promising to work for campaign finance reform, he believes overturning the Citizens United Supreme Court decision on campaign financing is a step in the right direction. “I will continue to refuse all money from PACs, special interests, and lobbyists in this race and if elected to Congress,” he said. Darwish supports a hard-cap finance model in which the Federal Election Commission would determine funding limits for Federal races, thereby ensuring no candidate has an unfair advantage.
To stimulate job growth, Darwish has proposed creating an Economic Development Center to “centralize resources for small businesses, unions, and workers looking to find employment with a living wage,” he said. The center would assist lower-class families by providing information and a network to work their way into the middle class.
He supports pre-apprenticeship programs at high schools to set young adults on a stable career trajectory. “We need to institute programs that improve students’ readiness to go into the workforce,” said Darwish.
He wants to address the nationwide shortage of school teachers with incentives for prospective teachers and by working to make tuition free for aspiring teachers “provided they pledge to work in public education at least five years out of teaching school.”
Darwish does not support a free national college tuition system, however. “I would work with the Department of Education to help design a program that would make college affordable,” said Darwish. “I would pay for this in a similar way as PELL grants, through appropriations.” He agrees the Federal government should assist with outstanding student debt loans for low-income students and make loans for middle class students interest free.
From his time at AMVOTE PAC helping those from underserved communities register to vote, Darwish understands how inaccessible voting can be. He would institute a universal, automated voter registration system nationwide and wants to make Election Day a national holiday. “Voting should be easy, not difficult,” he said.
Darwish would support legislation to overturn the Muslim ban and the Trump administration’s executive order that permits separating immigrant families.
To contact Darwish, visit https://rush4congress.com/ or call (708) 576-8013.
Charles M. Hughes describes himself as a middle-class man willing to work for and support his fellow 3rd District constituents and shared his slogan, “You can’t lose with Hughes because I’m working for you.”
A former City employee and current Nicor Gas operation mechanic, Hughes tried to run for alderman in the 23rd Ward in 2011 and 2019 but was knocked off the ballot both times. He belonged to the 23rd Ward Regular Democratic Organization and is a former precinct captain from former Congressman Bill Lipinski’s time in office.
Hughes supports and would protect the ACA, but he believes individuals also need more affordable healthcare options. Hughes envisions an Illinois plan similar to Washington DC’s Health Link, a private-public partnership fostering competition and transparency within the private health insurance market to allow individuals, families, and small businesses to compare prices and benefits when purchasing affordable health insurance. “Some people need public and private healthcare, and I want to give them a real choice,” said Hughes.
He supports campaign finance reform to level the playing field for candidates. He intends to advocate for a dollar cap for candidate fundraising.
To promote job growth, Hughes would support legislation creating more apprentice and vocational trade programs and work collaboratively with local high schools, community colleges, and four-year universities, as “not everybody fits into the college system.”
Hughes wants to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021. Despite that date being less than a year away, he said the change would be “gradual” to accommodate businesses. Hughes said he fears that, if government implements an immediate wage increase, Chicago would lose many of its small businesses. “You can’t snap your fingers with that type of stuff,” he explained.
To increase public school funding, he proposes cutbacks to what he deems wasteful government spending: specifically, the wall on the Mexico border and President Trump’s controversial detainment of immigrants and asylum seekers. Hughes notes Americans’ ancestors all were immigrants at one point and finds it hypocritical to spend money separating immigrant children from their families while the nation has the ability to allocate funds to improve children’s lives through educational opportunities.
While Hughes believes student debt is plaguing this generation’s children, he said free college education is just “wishful thinking.” He supports no interest loans—“a flat rate, no more, no less,” he said.
To contact Hughes, visit www.facebook.com/CharlesMHughesforCongress/.
Editor’s note: Incumbent Dan Lipinski failed to respond to Gazette Chicago’s multiple requests for comment.
He has represented Illinois’s 3rd Congressional District since 2005. Lipinski serves on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. He is known as a social conservative.
According to his campaign website, Lipinski favors immigration policy reforms, having co-sponsored the BRIDGE Act, a bill to protect immigrant children from deportation and those who have qualified for DACA status. He also opposes President Trump’s Muslim travel ban.
Lipinski has come under fire from pro-choice and female reproductive rights advocacy groups due to his decision to sign onto the Republicans’ amicus brief filed in the case of June Medical Services v. Gee, which seeks to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion a constitutional right. He was one of the only Democrats among more than 200 members of Congress to sign onto this amicus brief.
According to NARAL Pro-Choice America, he has supported 54 measures to restrict or outlaw access to abortion, and he voted seven times to defund Planned Parenthood and deny women preventive care and cancer screenings.
Lipinski does not support a single payer Medicare-for-All system. Although originally voting against the Affordable Care Act, he claims he now believes it needs to be strengthened and more affordable, not repealed. He also claims he will advocate for lowering prescription drug costs, healthcare premiums, and hospital visits.
Lipinski said he supports the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era policy to combat anthropogenic climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Lipinski currently serves as a member of the House Climate Solutions Caucus.
To contact Lipinski, visit https://lipinskiforcongress.com/ or call (773) 284-8566.
Marie Newman has worked in advertising, consulting, and nonprofit advocacy. Her nonprofit organization, Team Up to Stop Bullying, addresses bullying among school children. She came close to ousting incumbent Dan Lipinski in 2018, having lost by a mere 2,145 votes, or about two percent.
Newman believes the ACA has made life easier and brought medical insurance coverage to thousands of individuals in the district, and she intends to push for more with a Medicare-for-All system. “Adopting Medicare-for-All will remove costs like doctor visits, ambulance trips, blood tests, and completely covers vision, dental, and prescription drugs as well,” said Newman. She believes a single-payer system is the only way to reduce costs, eliminate restrictive networks, and provide the most security for families.
She finds it critical to reform voter suppression tactics and to overturn Citizens United. “I also support H.R. 1 and its efforts to convert our campaign finance system into a small donor public financing system,” said Newman. H.R. 1, otherwise known as the For the People Act of 2019, is a bill that expands voting registration and access, limits partisan gerrymandering and private donor money’s influence, and addresses election ethics.
To advocate for middle class working families and combat unemployment, Newman would encourage establishing workforce and short-term certificate training at local community colleges to create employment opportunities within traditional trades and a robust tech industry.
Newman strongly disapproves of Federal Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s education privatization model and will focus on empowering public schools. “I believe schools should be treated equally across all ZIP codes and that funding should be allocated by number of students both equally and universally,” said Newman. “Every school should have a social worker, psychologist, and comprehensive music and art curriculums.”
To combat national student loan debt, Newman said Congress needs to intervene. She supports cancelling debt of up to $50,000 for individuals with outstanding loans and incomes lower than $100,000. She also would work to develop a “sliding scale” for those with incomes between $100,000 and $250,000. She supports a higher education system in which tuition eventually becomes free at state colleges across the nation.
Newman supports raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, with increases specific to variations in cost of living.
If elected, Newman said she will work to rescind immediately the Trump administration’s “xenophobic” and “destructive” immigration policies.
To contact Newman, visit www.marienewmanforcongress.com/ or call (708) 328-8326.
3rd District (R)
Mike Fricilone, of Homer Glen, IL, is on the Will County Board, having won election starting in 2012; he belongs to the board’s Executive and Finance Committees. He also works as executive director at Midwest Office Interiors Inc., an office furniture dealership in Woodridge, IL.
Fricilone would not support a single-payer healthcare system. He said he would work on a bipartisan basis for healthcare reform and intends on being “a staunch advocate for those with preexisting conditions,” he said.
He advocates tax relief for those in the middle class and with lower income levels. “This piece of reform is essential to keeping our neighborhoods affordable and for families to stretch every dollar they earn,” he said.
Fricilone believes in increasing the minimum wage only if it were tied directly with inflation, as it would be fair to workers and employers. “The calls for an immediate $15 minimum wage that are going on right now would be damaging,” he said.
He opposes the Federal government paying for college education. “I believe in a system of state grants to help low-income students as well as better use of our community colleges,” he said.
Fricilone is a fan of President Trump’s tax cuts and sweeping regulatory reforms; however, he sees a problem with losing state and local tax deductions. He also would “urge the president to be very careful” with adding tariffs in the future, he said.
A supporter of voter ID laws, he said if one needs identification to fly then “certainly to maintain the integrity of the election it is fair to ask for an ID to vote.”
Fricilone believes that “at the local, state, and Federal levels we should keep the promises we make toward education.” He supports local control of public schools but is wary of increasing public education funding because “for far too long in Washington we have increased spending on everything,” he said.
He believes the U.S. should make concerted efforts to reduce dependency on foreign oil sources and be more open to approaches toward clean and renewable energy, he said.
To contact Fricilone, visit https://mikefricilone.com/.
Perennial candidate Art Jones won the Republican nomination in 2018, even though he is a self-identifying Nazi and a Holocaust denier who promulgates anti-Semitic and racist rhetoric. He has called the Holocaust an extortion racket and prides himself on his white supremacist views.
Jones believes lawmakers should replace the ACA with a program called the Medical Catastrophic Fund, a tax-supported program that would require every taxpayer in the nation to contribute ten dollars from their annual tax returns. The money held within the fund would assist Americans with medical expenses—but only when their private health insurance policies ran out.
He believes any campaign, from the aldermanic to presidential levels, should be funded exclusively through taxpayer contributions. “Take off a few dollars that go into a Federal fund for the Federal Elections Commission, and every candidate, once he is certified on the ballot, would get the same amount of money for a primary election and general election,” Jones said.
Jones supports detaining and separating immigrant families and would lock down the U.S. borders. He believes illegal immigrants are stealing many jobs of Americans and that the southern border wall must be completed.
He does not support increasing the minimum wage but sees an alternate route to reduce economic disparity through eliminating taxes for individuals working for minimum wage. He claims this program would support businesses that cannot afford to hike wages while limiting the potential of layoffs.
To stimulate job growth, Jones intends to cut the amount of jobs outsourced internationally by major trade industries such as manufacturing and textiles. He supports President Trump’s international economic sanctions and import taxes.
Jones sympathizes with a generation of students who have pursued college degrees and “been suckered into taking these loans,” he said. He supports Federally funded trade scholarships and vocation programs.
To contact Jones, visit https://artjonestherebel.com/.
Catherine O’Shea of Oak Lawn is a real estate agent who owns O’Shea Realty LLC. She served six years on the board of the Worth Township Schools Treasurer’s Office. She declined to respond to questions about her candidacy, saying her decision resulted from two negative experiences with reporters from other publications “twisting” her words.
According to her campaign’s Facebook page, O’Shea favors unions, as they support families while promoting skilled labor, living wages, and health benefits. She would fight for affordable housing and address solutions for the homeless.
She has expressed support for President Trump and favors further efforts to secure the nation’s borders.
To contact O’Shea, visit www.facebook.com/OShea-for-Congress-100374691472100/.
7th District (D)
Anthony Clark is back for a second run for Congress, as in 2018 Congressman Danny K. Davis defeated him in the Democratic primary in the 7th District.
A high school teacher at Oak Park and River Forest High School, Clark is an Air Force veteran. He founded Suburban Unity Alliance (SUA), a not-for-profit organization that provides resources to immigrants, DACA applicants, and sex trafficking victims and runs other community outreach initiatives. SUA helped pass the Welcoming Village ordinance in Oak Park, which oversees inclusiveness initiatives and established Indigenous Peoples Day in place of Columbus Day in Oak Park.
Clark supports a comprehensive Medicare-for-All healthcare program. A Bernie Sanders supporter, he stands with the senator on many issues. Clark believes the ACA was a slight improvement in providing access to healthcare options but is determined to move past the program because he wants to do away with private insurance companies.
He would advocate to eliminate the Citizens United Supreme Court decision immediately. A conservative political advocacy group won this court decision, which supports private corporations and unions making virtually unlimited expenditures in connection with Federal elections.
“Money often eliminates the necessity for candidates to go into the communities, specifically those that are black, brown, and impoverished,” said Clark. “Instead of seeing politicians making connections with the people, going door to door, they show their faces every once in a while and with the help of ads.” Clark also points to the Democratic debates’ fundraising threshold demands as an example of too much focus on money, saying, “We have to have a level playing field.”
Clark continues to support the Green New Deal and said moving away from fossil fuels will lead to investments in job creation, housing, infrastructure, and job training.
He finds the current minimum wage “ridiculous” and believes it should be tied directly to inflation, as “we would have a better barometer and ability to maintain livable wages for individuals,” he said, noting he also supports Federal job guarantees.
College tuition and higher education expenses should be covered by federally backed funds, Clark believes. He also supports liquidating all student debt. “I believe when you combine those interconnected solutions it will inevitably invest in greater job opportunities,” he said.
Clark expressed concern about the Trump administration’s efforts to defund access to public education and is “100% against privatization of our school systems,” he said, noting he does not blame parents who strive to place their children in charter and magnet programs because they want the best opportunities for their children.
Privately owned prison systems and Federal veteran assistance programs need major reforms, Clark said. He also wants to cut military spending by about 75% and reduce influence from the military-industrial complex.
The Chicago Democratic Socialists of America endorsed Clark.
To contact Clark, visit www.voteanthonyclark.com/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Austin resident Kina Collins worked as a national organizer for Physicians for a National Health Program, a non-profit organization of 20,000 physicians and medical students advocating for a comprehensive, universal healthcare system.
While active in that role, Collins encountered individuals who cut blood pressure pills in half and rationed insulin due to struggles with other bills and expenses. “My fundamental belief is that healthcare is a human right,” she said, noting that she is in favor of single-payer Medicare for All. “We are the only industrialized, developed country in the world that does not have a universal healthcare system, and I think we must do better.”
Coming from a union household, Collins has seen reductions in manufacturing jobs in the district. She will fight for the return of those manufacturing opportunities and plans to implement vocational trade programs. “We should be training our students on how to code, how to install solar panels, and create wind farms in urban communities like mine,” said Collins. “Or, how to operate community farms or greenhouses, turning abandoned buildings into greenhouses and vacant lots into community gardens. All of those things are trades they can take globally, not just here domestically. I’m thinking of a more robust economy that is sustainable and long lasting.”
Collins works on gun violence prevention and criminal justice reform and has served as a leader in Generation Progress, a national organization that encourages young adults to address and promote progressive solutions to social and political challenges.
After the Trump administration disbanded the White House Council on Women and Girls in 2017, Collins worked to establish a State-level council, co-authoring for the State Legislature a bill that received bi-partisan support and became law in August 2018.
Collins believes the Department of Education should provide free public college tuition and stands in alliance with Bernie Sanders’s position on eliminating student debt.
She will advocate for a minimum wage increase and believes the government should adjust and scale it to the cost of living as well as to where individuals live. Fifteen dollars per hour “doesn’t work for everybody,” she said.
Collins finds Trump’s executive order on immigration unconstitutional and immoral. She wants to work to protect immigrants and DACA applicants and get rid of the travel bans.
“In a district that is 85% Democrat and overwhelmingly working class and 70% people of color, we deserve a working class champion, and I definitely think our campaign offers that solution,” she said. “I am an organizer, coalition builder, and I’ve legislated,” and she said she is now “ready to go to Washington, DC.”
To contact Collins, visit https://kinaforcongress.com/ or email email@example.com.
Incumbent Danny K. Davis has represented the 7th Congressional District since first elected in 1996.
Short-term improvements can be made to the ACA, Davis believes, especially concerning healthcare costs, accessible coverage, and overall efficiency. He considers adopting H.R. 1384, the Medicare-for-All Act (which he co-sponsored) the panacea for any problems with the ACA.
Davis supports small donor pubic campaign financing and wants limitations on individual campaign donations. He also wants to end “treating corporations and other artificial entities as persons” and to prohibit “such entities from spending money to influence elections,” he said.
He will continue promoting legislation backing the Green New Deal to combat unemployment and bolster job growth. “Globalization, technological change, monopolization, attacks on unions all have been a part of changing the economic climate,” said Davis. “All of this has been accompanied by the accelerating crisis of climate change.” Combating climate change will in turn establish millions of jobs; invest in public infrastructure, housing, and industry; and address economic inequality, Davis added.
Davis will advocate for a minimum wage increase to at least $15 an hour, along with a rise in overtime salary thresholds. “Adjusting the minimum wage, along with reasserting the right to organize and bargain collectively, is the bare minimum required of government to ensure economic justice,” he said. Davis has co-sponsored legislation that supports increased wages for individuals with disabilities and eliminates sub-minimum wages for tipped workers.
The Trump administration has proposed privatization education “reforms” opposed by Davis, who will continue to champion expansion of Federal protection for public school programs, “especially in low-income communities through Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act,” he said. Davis supports enforcing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, including LGBTQ students’ rights. He continues to call for federal efforts to upgrade and replace deficient public school buildings in the district.
In response to the national student debt crisis, Davis supports using taxes on the rich to eliminate undergraduate tuition, increased spending on work-study programs, and strengthened Federal grant programs for low-income students. “Such a plan could be utilized to liquidate most or all of the outstanding student debt,” he believes.
Davis has opposed voter suppression consistently, having co-sponsored H.R. 1, which would expand voter registration and access, make Election Day a Federal holiday, and limit removing names from voter rolls.
To contact Davis, visit https://davis.house.gov/ or call (773) 533-7520.
Kristine Schanbacher is a senior managing associate at the law firm Dentons US LLP, specializing in litigation and dispute resolution. She co-chairs the National Immigrant Justice Center Junior Leadership Board, sits on the Greater Chicago Food Depository board, and remains an active member of the Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs and the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents.
Concerning the Trump administration’s defunding of public education, Schanbacher said, “The Federal government needs to increase Federal funding of education. Money that we receive through proper corporate taxation and save by reducing our wasteful military spending can be used toward education.” She noted the United States is not in the top ten in the pre-K, K-12, or post-secondary programs’ rankings. “We need to re-prioritize education and adequately invest in our children, teachers, and schools,” Schanbacher said.
The U.S. needs to take a more active leadership role in combating climate change, she said, noting, “We must also address environmental racism, ensuring that minority communities do not continue to disproportionately bear the cost of our failed environmental policies.” She intends to work to erect urban green spaces and farming initiatives and fight for movement towards a net zero carbon footprint.
Schanbacher supports constitutional amendments that reform campaign financing. She advocates eliminating the Citizens United decision and believes “too many members of Congress receive the majority, if not the super majority, of their campaign funds from special interest groups, instead of from people.”
Law makers should add a public option to ACA, she said, because it would create an accessible alternative to private plans, expand coverage, and accommodate millions of uninsured Americas who do not qualify for Medicaid. She would fight to enact measures reducing prescription drug prices and managing life-saving medicine availability.
Schanbacher endorses an immediate increase in the minimum wage. “We need to create incentives for metropolitan areas that have a higher cost of living to create a minimum wage that is adequate to live with dignity,” she explained.
She acknowledges the need for Federally funded public college education but wants to incorporate private institutions into the discussion. “This system would give Americans a free college option while maintaining their freedom of choice between public and private education,” she said.
Schanbacher would fight for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, calling Federal funds imperative to reduce hunger and stimulate the economy.
To contact Schanbacher, visit http://votekristine.com/ or call (312) 632-0929.