By Ava O’Malley
Six candidates for the 1st, 4th, and 7th Congressional District seats advanced on June 28 from the primary election. On November 8, local residents can expect to see some of the following names on their ballots.
Jonathan Jackson, the son of civil rights leader Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. and social justice advocate Jacqueline Jackson, is running as the Democratic candidate in the 1st Congressional District.
“I understand the power of diplomacy,” he said, pointing to his experience traveling internationally with his father and helping to free about 500 civilians held captive during the Gulf War in 1991.
He has taught finance and entrepreneurship at Kennedy-King College and currently is a business professor at Chicago State University.
Jackson said education funding should be seen as part of “national defense. We have to make education affordable.”
Jackson favors Medicare for All, which he said would help residents get medical care for diabetes, obesity, and other issues in addition to Covid symptoms. He also said funding should go into keeping “safety net” hospitals in the community afloat.
Jackson said the pandemic has shown how everyone in the community needs access to affordable healthcare, and in Congress he would support funding for more community and school-based health centers for underserved populations.
Jackson said removing more illegal guns from the street is a key to addressing crime. He said gangs have access to the same kind of weaponry as police, and Chicago is leading in national efforts to trace guns.
Concerning voting rights, Jackson noted, “activism is in my DNA…instilling in me an unbounded passion to stand up for the disenfranchised, defend the civil rights of every citizen, and fight for human rights and social justice for all people.”
Representing the Republican party is Eric Carlson, a native South Sider, army veteran, and construction tradesperson. Carlson, who was born in the Roseland neighborhood, worked in construction for more than 20 years and operates two nonprofits: American Veteran Service Dog Academy and Task Force 75, an organization that responds to disasters.
Carlson believes in stopping crime at its source by generating high paying jobs, raising the standard of living in areas with high crime rates, cracking down on criminal behavior, supporting police, and holding prosecutors Federally liable for improper behavior.
Carlson stated holding State’s Attorney Kim Foxx accountable by restricting funding is one of the ways he would address crime in the district. Carlson supports an increased police budget and more police training. He expressed concern about wrongful convictions and criminal justice reform, believing the entire system must change.
Voter suppression is a non-issue for Carlson and his campaign. “To say that people are suppressed and to say that anyone who wants to vote does not have the opportunity to vote is a flat out falsehood,” he said. “Every single American has a precinct, has a polling place that they can go to on election day.”
Regarding women’s health issues and the right to choose, Carlson believes this issue should go back to the states. Carlson is pro-life, and abortion access is not a high priority of his campaign.
“For the United States, the problems that we face right now, the things that could actually destroy this country and destroy our way of life, abortion is not in the top 20, 50, or 100,” he said.
If elected, Carlson would rebuild the South Side by giving young people job opportunities in construction. He wants to work with banks, investors, contractors, and nonprofits to train young men and women, especially in South Side neighborhoods such as Englewood and Roseland. Training residents in the construction trade, he believes, not only would generate jobs but improve housing.
“I’m running because I got sick and tired of watching what’s going on in this country,” Carlson said.
For more information, see www.ericcarlsonforcongress.com/.
Jesús “Chuy” García, first elected in 2018, is running for re-election in the 4th District. Born in Durango, Mexico, the Congressman currently lives in Little Village with his wife and adult children.
During his term, García has fought for the rights of immigrants and voters and for gun violence prevention. Last year, he worked on the For the People Act, a bill which aims to protect the integrity of elections and campaigns.
“The For the People Act ends many discriminatory practices, like voter intimidation and distribution of misinformation, used to prevent Latino, Black, and other marginalized communities from exercising their voting rights,” García said. “By expanding early voting and vote-by-mail opportunities, this bill makes it easier for everyone to vote.”
Garcia introduced the New Way Forward Act, which strengthened protection for immigrants and ended partnerships between Federal immigration forces and local authorities.
One month after the devastating Robb Elementary School Shooting in Uvalde, TX, García worked for the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a bill to protect Americans from gun violence, especially in schools. The act, which is headed to President Biden’s desk for approval, increases background checks for those younger than 21 who seek to purchase firearms, provides funding for community-based violence prevention services, and cracks down on domestic violence abusers.
García is a pro-choice progressive who rebuked the Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. He said Americans “cannot back down” on a decision made by “a group of unelected judges.” García declares that abortion is a fundamental right awarded to all citizens, and that overturning Roe v. Wade will affect poor people of color unfairly.
García is considering a run for mayor, which would not be his first time going up against an incumbent mayor. In 2015, García forced then-mayor Rahm Emanuel into a runoff, which Emanuel won.
For more on Garcia, see https://chuygarcia.house.gov/.
Ed Hershey, a science teacher at Lindblom Math and Science Academy, is running under the Working Class Party banner in the 4th District. Hershey, who is originally from Buffalo, NY, came to Illinois in 1997 and studied at the University of Chicago.
For reducing crime in the district, Hershey, with nine years of experience working in Chicago Public Schools, sees better education as the solution. He acknowledged the connection between the COVID pandemic and the uptick in crime.
“A lot of violent people committing [crimes such as] carjackings are young people,” Hershey said. “We need schools that provide a good education, and young people need to feel like they have a place in society and a future in it.”
Recently endorsed by the Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization, Hershey wants to uphold voting access by ensuring protection for voting by mail and polling stations.
Regarding women’s health issues, Hershey believes abortion should be a personal choice, available to all. “Our society doesn’t support child rearing very well,” Hershey said. “It’s part of why we need the right to abortion,” and he believes society must make sure that all people, rich and poor, have access to a safe abortion.
Abortion “needs to be considered as regular healthcare and not considered a special kind of healthcare,” he added. “So yes, women should have a right to choose an abortion should they need one, and it should be subject to public funding if necessary.”
If elected, Hershey also would address increased wages for the working class, increased public transportation, and stabilizing rents in an effort to combat gentrification.
“Workers’ wages need to rise with inflation automatically; we need to keep up,” Hershey said. “Retirement benefits by Social Security and Medicare also need to at least match inflation.”
Hershey, who was a leader in the 2012 Chicago Teachers Union Strike, wants to fight for improved use of funding within Chicago Public Schools. His campaign details are outlined on the Working Class Party’s website at https://www.workingclassfight.com/, which states the candidate is “outraged at Chicago politicians who take money from the schools to give to the banks, big corporations, developers, and the wealthy class.”
Although James Falakos is running as a Republican candidate, he claims he is “more of an independent at heart.” Falakos, owner of three small businesses and son of a Greek immigrant, joined the race as he felt “inspired to change the world for the better.”
Falakos describes his approach on crime as multi-faceted. If elected, he would be stringent on prosecuting criminals, particularly violent offenders. He also would examine the process of rehabilitating criminals and address systemic issues regarding family structures and mental health treatment.
Although healthcare forms a large part of Falakos’s campaign, he believes abortion laws should be in the states’ jurisdiction. While he describes his views on abortion rights as “not the typical conservative approach,” he believes more stringent laws are needed regarding when abortions can be administered.
“I understand that [abortions] are not a fun experience,” Falakos said. “However, I understand that sometimes it’s necessary.”
Falakos, who suffered from a chronic illness for ten years, wants to bolster preventive and functional medicine. He also wants to tackle healthcare issues such as rising drug costs, high cost of care, quality of care, lack of transparency, and nursing shortages.
“We should not be waiting for someone to develop cancer in order to treat them, and [we should] not give them toxic pharmaceuticals that have heavy metals and mind altering chemicals in them,” Falakos said.
As a part of prevention efforts, Falakos wants to address clean air policies, genetically modified food, water quality, and pesticide use in food. “The healthcare system, big pharma, and big agriculture—we really need to look at this because this is what’s driving disease,” he said.
Falakos’s platform has three pillars: addressing inflation, growing small businesses, and supporting energy independence via renewable energy sources. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in renewable energy, economics, and public policy at Illinois State University and a master’s in science from Southern Illinois University. He has studied wind energy, solar thermodynamics, building science, energy development, and general energy production for the last ten years.
His campaign does not touch on issues of voter suppression.
Falakos described himself as an outsider with a strong sense of leadership, due to his experience with small businesses.
“I’m sick of incompetent leaders that enjoy the privilege of representing us but have no skin in the game,” Falakos said. “They don’t represent our values, the pursuit of happiness and success. We need leaders that grew from the bottom that amplify our voices and public servants.”
His website is falakos4congress.com.
Incumbent and Democrat Danny K. Davis has represented the 7th District since 1997 and is running opposed in this election. He serves on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform as well as the Committee on Ways and Means and chairs the Worker and Family Support Subcommittee. His website is https://davis.house.gov/
Editor’s note: William S. Bike and Dermot Connolly contributed to this article.