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About the Candidate

Name: Janice D. Schakowsky
DOB: May 26, 1944
Occupation: Member of Congress
Political Experience: Current Member of US House of Representatives, former State Representative
Twitter: @repschakowsky

Candidate Statement

Hi. I'm Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.

And thanks to WTTW, I have this opportunity to directly ask you for your vote.

This is an unsettling time in the history of our country. For only the third time in our history, the House of Representatives voted to impeach the President.

I voted for impeachment because no American is above the law. But, regardless of the final outcome, I am optimistic about our future.

This is the election year we have been waiting for. This is the election that can usher in the changes that reflect OUR values and our priorities: affordable health care including prescription drugs for all Americans.

We can embrace the fact that we are a nation of immigrants and that's what makes America great.

I myself am a first generation American.

Neither of my parents was born here in the United States. With our vote we can assure that women's rights are expanded along with those of the LGBTQ community.

We can finally take on the gun lobby and stop the killings. We can urgently address the climate crisis and leave our children and grandchildren a livable and beautiful world.

We can work for peace and stop the drums of war. We can expand Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid for our seniors and people with disabilities.

Our public schools and universities can have the resources that they need, and our workers the wages and benefits they deserve including childcare.

These are not pipe dreams. There is enough wealth in this, the richest country in the world to do all this and more.

If you think our country needs changes, all you have to do is exercise your most precious right, the right to vote.

We can do this!

Candidate Q&A

Why are you running?

I am running for re-election because I understand how much work we still have to do. Repairing the damage caused by this administration can happen quickly and effectively if it’s done right. I have been a decades-long advocate for greater access to healthcare (including lowering the costs of prescription drugs), comprehensive immigration reform, and workers’ rights. These issues remain crucial to the lives of my constituents and I believe that those voices deserve to be heard in Washington, especially during these tumultuous times.

What is your vision for this office?

JOBS AND INCOME: We need to create good jobs and raise wages by investing in priorities like education and infrastructure and by supporting unions. Union members enjoy higher wages and 9 in 10 receive paid sick days, vacations and access to retirement plans. Higher wages – along with expanding Social Security – are essential to improving retirement security. This is especially true for women, who are more likely to work in low-wage jobs, work part-time, and take time out of the workforce altogether for caregiving responsibilities. As part of my effort to see wages rise in my community, I have been involved in ensuring that municipalities raise their minimum wages based on the Cook County ordinance.

CAREGIVING: Another specific priority of mine is supporting measures to help families meet those caregiving needs. In our area, many parents spend more on child care than they do on food, transportation and rent – quality infant care can cost more than $10,000 a year. At the same time, many families are also providing care for older adults – either taking time out of the workforce or struggling to afford adult day care or home health care worker services. I have been working on the issue of improving the quality of care for older adults, including in nursing homes, since I began my career.

IMMIGRATION: Finally, the Trump Administration’s cruel immigration policies are creating fear, dislocation and economic problems in our community. In the ninth district we have a long record of welcoming immigrants and refugees from all corners of the world, and they have contributed to our diversity, cultural richness, and economic well-being. Many, many of my constituents have contacted me to express their dismay about policies that separate mothers from their babies, that impose a discriminatory Muslim ban, and that seek to isolate immigrants through deportations and the repeal of DACA. I am working hard to reverse those policies and enact comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship.

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing your constituents and how do you plan on addressing it?

The driving passion that led me to public service is to make sure that every person in our nation has access to affordable, comprehensive and high-quality health care.  The Affordable Care Act has brought us closer to that goal – eliminating bans on coverage for people with pre- existing conditions, prohibiting higher premium charges to women, expanding access to guaranteed coverage and premium assistance, and improving Medicaid and Medicare. Instead of barebones policies, the ACA’s essential health benefits include cost-free preventive care (including contraceptives), maternity care, prescription drugs and mental health services. I am committed to blocking efforts to repeal those protections. But, as a decades-long Medicare for All supporter, I know that we have much more to do.

I have introduced legislation to lower prescription drug prices and insurance premiums, and I am the lead cosponsor of the EACH Woman Act, which repeals the Hyde Amendment and works to ensure that every woman – no matter where she lives, how much she earns, or what type of insurance she has – has abortion coverage. Access to the full range of reproductive health services and ensuring that Roe v Wade is protected not just in statute but in practice remains a top priority, especially given assaults by the Republican Congress on Planned Parenthood and a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions.