SOUTH BARRINGTON, IL — Ahead of the June 28 Illinois primary, Patch distributed questionnaires to candidates running in the hard-fought Democratic and Republican races, including the eight candidates seeking two-year terms in the United States House of Representatives and Illinois represented ‘ 8th congressional district.
On the Democrat side, incumbent Raja Krishnamoorthi faces a challenge from Junaid Ahmed. For Republicans, Chris Dargis, Karen Kolodziej, Chad Koppie, Peter Kopsaftis and Phillip Wood are targeting the nods. Mohammed Faheem is running as an independent.
The congressional district includes portions of Cook County, DuPage County, and Kane County. All or part of Addison, Barrington Hills, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Carpentersville, East Dundee, Elgin, Elk Grove Village, Glendale Heights, Hanover Park, Hoffman Estates, Lombard, Palatine, Roselle, Schaumburg, South Elgin, Streamwood, Villa Park and Wood Dale are included.
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What state do you live in?
city or place of residence
US House of Representatives, IL-8
MBA University of Chicago
Small business owner – 15 years
wife and 4 children
Does anyone in your family work in politics or government?
Previous public office, appointment or election
Why are you looking for this position?
I’m running to fix DC to make it work for us. I’ve spent years building power in my hometown as a community organizer. However, this experience made me realize that to really get things done on a larger scale, we need political leaders willing to stand up to special interests and other bad actors who have stalled progress in DC
I want to be someone that voters in my district (and working families across the country) can rely on and be a representative who actually focuses on the real issues we face. We do this by carving out corporations and special interests from DC and then focusing on the issues that matter to real people, like universal healthcare that includes dental, vision and hearing, making college affordable and safe for all that every worker has a livable, thriving salary.
Please complete this statement: The single most pressing issue facing my constituents is ___, and that’s what I intend to do about it.
High property taxes are voters’ biggest concern for me and my team. I have good news and bad news for everyone. The good news: this is an issue that we can fix. And the bad news: It will take hard work, forcing DC politicians to have some important conversations with their constituents. But I’m willing to get to the root of this problem and find immediate solutions designed to ease the burden on middle-income taxpayers.
The climate crisis is the single biggest problem facing our country. Congress must do everything it can to pass meaningful and effective legislation now. Legislation must build a green economy based entirely on renewable energy; that allows people to be people, not just workers; built on 21st century infrastructure that won’t crumble to the ground and can be further churned up during global crises – so we can take care of ourselves when supply chains end.
My biggest problem is the idleness in DC. I am ashamed to say that only catastrophic events have inspired Democrats and Republicans to tackle major issues in recent years (9/11, the 2008 market crashes and pandemic relief). A system that only works in times of crisis is not a system at all. I’m running to fix the problem so politicians spend more time fixing problems than running for re-election. We do this with reform of campaign finance, term limits, and by involving voters in the political system every day—not just when we need their votes or money.
What are the main differences between you and the other candidates applying for this position?
The main difference is how badly each of us wants to change the status quo in DC
My opponent has had six years to really shake things up in Washington and in that time he hasn’t managed to do much more than raise (a lot of) money. He only managed to pass 2% of his proposed legislation, but managed to raise more than $13 million in donations (with millions coming from special interest and corporate PACs). I promise never to take a dime from special interests. I am accountable only to my constituents and working class families across the country.
Unlike my opponent, I don’t hope to go to DC to get sucked into the establishment for my benefit. I want to urge bold changes that help people like you and me, not a handful of corporations and billionaire donors.
If you were challenging an incumbent, how would you do differently if elected?
For one thing, our campaign has pledged never to accept a penny of PAC funds from corporations, and I will keep that promise while in office. I don’t want to be beholden to a handful of wealthy donors and advocacy groups because I recognize that the people who matter most are my constituents – the same constituents my opponent ignored for six years.
I also plan to actually fight to achieve my proposed agenda – unlike my opponent, who boasts that he only passed 2% of his proposed bills and built a handful of toll roads (something anyone in Illinois can pull together to dislike it).
What other topics do you want to address during your campaign?
A key issue we also address is defending the rights and dignity of older Americans. About 10.6 million older adults are actively involved in the workforce. They pay 18% of federal income taxes (about $630 billion), and Americans over 55 pay about 45% of all income taxes. They also make up about 34% of all unpaid caregivers (about 15 million people) and contribute about $150 billion in free labor each year to care for our nation’s oldest and youngest populations.
They have seen wars, pandemics, and the rise and fall of democracies. Along the way, they’ve helped change our world in ways their parents would have thought unimaginable. But I’m not sure we’re doing enough to recognize these contributions. Among the lessons we’ve learned during this pandemic is how much we take older Americans for granted (despite what they have and continue to contribute to our success). Older Americans have suffered disproportionately during COVID. They have lost their lives, their jobs and their peace of mind.
Furthermore, Social Security, a sacred bond of trust between us and our government, will be phased out in just 12 years. We need government leaders dedicated to resolving these issues and ensuring our elders receive the support they deserve.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence that you can handle this job?
Being a candidate is a new experience for me, but community service is not. During college, I was a big brother to middle school students. I’m the chairman of our local Boy Scout troop. My family and I attend Meals on Wheels every weekend and I volunteer with local natural disaster relief efforts. If you’re a volunteer going out in the field, you can’t help but notice that you never get enough done (and that some people in DC don’t do much at all). So a few years ago I decided to stand up and fight for real change. I volunteered to vote for real Democrats across Illinois. I have also organized rallies in support of universal health care.
What was your first paying job and what did you learn from it?
My first paying job was working at Woolworth’s Supermarket. I was being paid less than $5 an hour back then and I remember how much money I was worth but also critically how little I was making despite trying my best. It’s part of what led me to firmly believe that every worker in the country deserves a decent wage regardless of the job.
What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
“Don’t run for Congress.”
let me explain. Before I started this race, I spoke to a close friend who is a local elected official who told me this. They said it was too difficult, with too many obstacles and too little chance of success, and a game I couldn’t and didn’t want to play. They claimed I was being too honest and struggling with the compromises that inevitably come with being a politician. I thought about it and said, “No. I can do better and I will do better for District 8.”
Is there anything else you would like to tell voters about yourself and your positions?
In 38 words: husband; Father; Small Business Owner: Community College alum; graduate of the University of Chicago; Boy Scout Troop Leader; Big Brother; community activist; sugar lovers; Coffee/Tea Equal Opportunities; Self-loathing shark tank fan – and voter disappointed by the status quo.
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