I am running for State Representative in the 69th District. I am also the current Democratic State Central Committeeman in the 11th Congressional District.
I have been a community activist since high school advocating for all kinds of causes from civil rights, women’s rights, workers’ rights, global warming, to most recently being part of the 30-year effort to restore passenger rail service to Rockford.
When you are an activist, you quickly learn that most politicians do not really listen to us except when they want your vote. So, when I retired in 2018, I traded in my marching shoes for running shoes and ran for office for the very first time. I ran for State Central Committeeman of the 14th Congressional District. (The State Central Committee is considered the Board of Directors of the Democratic Party of Illinois.) With the efforts of dozens of fellow activists and supporters, together, we won the race against an entrenched incumbent.
I used my newly found influence with Illinois legislators to help get $275 million dollars to restore Amtrak service into the Illinois budget. This will not only provide economic benefits and jobs for Rockford, Belvidere, and Huntley but pave the way for METRA service to Huntley and Marengo as well.
We desperately need to lower property taxes through School Funding Reform.
Illinois appears to be in a contest with New Jersey for the honor of being by far the worst state in the nation when it comes to school funding. If other states can do it right, so can Illinois. We must shift much more responsibility for school funding to the State of Illinois, where revenue is based on the ability to pay (income tax), rather than the value of property, over which homeowners have no control. This unfairness especially hurts senior citizens and young families by making them helpless victims of inflation.
I am not a career politician trying to get your vote by promising to fix a hot button issue. I am asking for your support as a senior citizen on social security who, like many of you, is wondering if my own family can continue to afford to remain in the house that my wife and I built pioneer-style (with our own hands) in rural McHenry County back in 1989.
As a retired small business owner of a company, that barely survived the 2007 recession, our family experienced firsthand the struggles of mom and pop businesses that are so vital to our community.
As a parent of millennials, I personally share in their struggles with the lack of affordable housing and student loan debt.
My wife is a home care worker. She tells me that the thing most senior citizens desperately want is to be able to stay in their homes as long as possible. From excessive property taxes, to lack of public transportation to visit their doctors, and a host of other challenges make living in Illinois unnecessarily difficult for seniors.
I am a war refugee brought to America at the age of four on a converted troop ship. Never forgetting my own immigrant experience, I am involved in the fight for immigrant rights. Sadly, too many Americans have forgotten what makes America great is its multiculturalism – that you can be a proud American without having to give up your heritage.
Lastly, the government has a big spending problem. Not from things we truly need as a society, but from sweetheart deals, projects that make no sense, and wasteful spending.
Back in 1999, I was lead engineer on part of a $22 million project to convert the entire communications backbone of the Illinois Tollway System by replacing it with an entirely new system. Our team finished a two-year GOVERNMENT PROJECT four months ahead of schedule and $2 million under budget. How often do you hear that?
I believe that we need far more people from the various professions in the state legislature; people with firsthand experience in the things that the state spends our tax dollars on in order to provide oversight and counter lobbyist influence.
I am not going to claim that the fixes of our many problems will be easy or that I can do it alone. But when you have been a community activist for as long as I have been, we get to know our fellow community activists personally because we continually work together on common causes.
The one promise I can make is that I will open my door wide to community leaders and my extremely knowledgeable fellow activists to join with me and the legislators and officials that I have built relationships with. Together we will roll up our sleeves and work together and begin to tackle the many problems we have in our district and in our state.