About the Candidate
Name: Jonathan T. Swain
DOB: July 27, 1975
Occupation: Principal, Kimbark Beverage Shoppe; President and CEO, LINK Unlimited Scholars; Founder, Hyde Park Summer Fest
Political Experience: Chief of Staff to Alds. Terry Peterson and Latasha R. Thomas; Assistant to Mayor Richard M. Daley; Deputy Commissioner for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs, City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development; Chairman, City of Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals; Commissioner, City of Chicago Board of Elections
My name is Jonathan Swain and I’m running for Congress in the Illinois’ 1st District.
I’m a son of the South Side. I’m an attorney, have an MBA, and have spent decades investing in my community and helping young people succeed.
I’m a community leader whose experience is unmatched by anyone else running in this race. I lead an education non-profit. I run my family’s neighborhood business and held various leadership positions in Chicago Government.
My name may be unfamiliar, but you do know the things that I’ve helped lead.
As a former Commissioner of the Chicago Board of Elections, I expanded participation in the voting process, especially among Black residents.
I founded the Hyde Park Brew Fest as a means to create community pride in a South Side festival that we could call our own.
As the President of LINK Unlimited Scholars, we help black youth prepare to access and complete college, so I know firsthand that investing in young people expands their range of opportunities and puts them on the path to a bright future.
Many residents of the 1st District would say our community is not much better today than it was 25 years ago. People still don’t feel safe. They’re still worried about taking care of their families. Still concerned they might lose their homes if they get sick. And today we’re really feeling the squeeze from higher food and gas prices. People need relief right now.
I don’t have all the solutions, but I believe together we have the answers. I will lead by centering your voice in the solutions. And together we will develop policies that will give you relief, like making the child tax credit permanent and forgiving student loan debt.
Throughout my career, whether I’ve been running a business, leading a nonprofit or serving you in government, I've been a people-centered leader anchored in my concern for the most vulnerable and marginalized. That’s how I’ve led. That’s how I lead. And that’s how I will represent you in Congress.
Please visit swain4us.com to learn more about my campaign and I hope to earn your vote by June 28th.
Why are you running?
I decided years ago that I was going to judge my life by the impact I had on people’s lives. That’s why I’ve worked in the nonprofit sector to serve Black youth, run businesses to put people to work and served in the public sector to make an impact on communities. Government is one of the few places where you can impact a lot of people’s lives beyond yourself - so it makes sense with this being a generational opportunity that I bring my experience to this conversation, which is distinctly different from anyone else in the race. I think this is a rare generational opportunity to have new leadership and a fresh perspective representing a new First District. Our campaign is about rebuilding our communities, creating opportunity for families and solving problems others haven’t and won’t take on. These priorities represent the foundation of my experience working in the civic, nonprofit and business spaces and they will be a cornerstone of my message and future work in Congress to represent the people of the First District in Illinois.
What does this office do well, and what needs fixing?
The congressional presence needs to increase throughout the First District. Though the office holder will often be in Washington, the staff needs to be present offering resources and listening to needs. Just like people know where the alderman’s office is, they should know where their congressional offices are, which is something I plan to address if elected.
What is the most pressing issue facing your constituents and how do you plan on addressing it?
I believe that as the Representative for Illinois’ First District, it would be my responsibility to listen to my constituents to determine what the most pressing problem is that faces individuals living in the district, not for me to tell them what it is. As such, my first focus will be being present in the district ensuring my constituents have a Congressperson who they can have access to, connect with, who addresses their questions, and who brings resources back from the federal government that can impact their day-to-day lives. I could presume what the issues are, but oftentimes elected officials come with a set of predetermined issues that may or may not line up with what people in the district are thinking. I know so far that I’ve heard about the need to feel safe, the pain felt at the pump and the grocery store, and fear that accessing their health care will create more financial strain. My plan is to always keep listening to folks in the district to hear what issues are of concern to them, and represent their voice in Washington.
What specific steps would you take to ensure your office is accessible and responsive to your constituents?
Ensuring accessibility and responsiveness to my constituents starts with the recognition that it’s important that residents have a Congressperson they can have access to in the first place. Every individual regardless of district deserves a representative that they can connect with, who addresses their questions and who brings resources home from the federal government that can impact their day to day lives. This lens would inform my approach to serving as a Congressperson. I would take steps to ensure that I was physically present in the district and in the community when I was able to be. In the interest of transparency and making sure that my constituents know what I’m doing on their behalf in Congress, I would have my office establish regular channels of communication via email, social media, and other means to regularly communicate the work that I’m doing in Washington. And above all, I believe in the importance of listening to make sure that I’m hearing out the concerns of the individuals in my district and using those concerns to inform my decisions in the halls of Congress.