About the Candidate
Name: Junaid Ahmed
DOB: June 5, 1975
Occupation: Small business owner
Junaid, here! I’m the Democrat running for Congress in the new Illinois 8th District!
While campaigning this last year, I’ve gotten to know so many amazing voters – and we’ve learned a lot about each other.
One interesting fact: a lot of us stop watching videos before the 30-second mark. So, if you’re still with me…and haven’t yet met me…please go to our website or shoot me an email at [email protected] – and we will talk.
Awesome. With that out of the way. Hello, again! Thanks for staying with me.
If you’re watching this video and planning to vote in the primary on (or before) June 28th, you’re probably pretty politically active. Thanks for being so engaged! Voting matters. You get that. It also means that you’ve probably seen this old midterm show before. You know, the episode when most voters stay home – and those who do go to the polls are so fed up with inaction that they kick out the party in power.
I get it. Most DC politicians spend their days fighting over bad policies written decades ago by people who know little about life in America today.
Rather than co-govern, both parties (but especially the Republicans) prefer to attack each other in hopes of gaining full control of Washington – deluding themselves into thinking that once in power, they will get things done.
But (with rare exceptions) NOTHING EVER GETS DONE.
Instead, most politicians end up spending more time in an endless cycle of raising money for reelection than actually passing policies.
D.C. is stuck in that vicious cycle, and I'm running to fix it so politicians spend more time solving problems rather than raising money. We do that with campaign finance reform. We do that with term limits. And most importantly, we do that by engaging voters every day – not just when we need their votes or money.
If you like what you’re hearing – please consider giving me your vote this June.
Thank you so much.
Why are you running?
To be clear, I never intended to run for Congress. While being a candidate is a new experience for me – activism and community service are not. I was a big brother to middle school students during college. My family and I volunteer in two soup kitchens, participate in Meals on Wheels, and aid in local natural disaster relief efforts.
When you’re a volunteer, taking action on the ground – you go through cycles of cynicism and optimism. You can’t help but notice that you’re never doing enough and that some people (in Washington) aren’t doing anything at all.
So, a few years ago – I decided to dabble in activism – believing real change must be systematic. I organized rallies in support of universal healthcare.
I helped successfully lobby the state government to shut down an ICE detention center. And I helped elect my opponent in this race.
Back then – he seemed like a different man. He claimed to support campaign finance reform, and he didn’t take corporate PAC money. So, we sent him to D.C. Unfortunately, he just didn’t have what it takes to stand up to the special interests. Now, he talks about having to play by the rules of a broken system that believes corporations are people. And he’s taken 2 million dollars from them.
But all of that money hasn’t helped him pass comprehensive immigration reform. It hasn’t helped him lower the costs of prescription drugs. It hasn’t helped pass any meaningful policy to end the climate crisis. It hasn’t helped rescue social security. And it certainly hasn’t helped him fix our electoral system.
I’m running to fix or broken political system in D.C. – so it works for us. And that begins with this pledge. I’m not going to play by the rules of a broken system that believes corporations are people. I promise to never take a dime of corporate PAC money. And if elected, I promise to fight for campaign finance reform, expanded voter access, and congressional term limits – so politicians are forced to spend more time solving problems than raising money.
Now is not a time for cynicism. Our country faces serious problems and I’m stepping up to demand action in D.C.
What does this office do well, and what needs fixing?
The Positive: I’m glad to report that despite the dysfunction in D.C., a Congressperson’s district office can still be a source of good in our local communities. With a strong constituent services program, Congressional staff can help community members break through complicated bureaucratic systems when they are having problems with Medicare, Social Security, immigration, or veteran’s benefits.
If elected, I will fight to increase the budget for constituent services so my team can help every community member who wants our help.
The Less Positive: D.C. isn’t working. Rather than solve big problems, Republicans and Democrats prefer to fight with each other – deluding themselves into believing that when they have the majority – they’ll get something done. But they rarely do. Only 2% of our current Congressman’s bills have become laws.
Please pardon my bluntness, but in recent years, only catastrophic events have inspired Democrats and Republicans to work together. Think 9/11, the ‘08 market crashes, and pandemic relief. A system that only works during crises is no system at all.
I’m running to fix D.C. so it works for us. I said this before, but I’ll say it again: I’m not going to play by the rules of a broken system that believes corporations are people. If elected, I promise to fight for campaign finance reform, expanded voter access, and congressional term limits – so politicians are forced to spend more time solving problems than raising money.
What is the most pressing issue facing your constituents and how do you plan on addressing it?
Answer 1: High property taxes are the top concern voters present to me and my team. I’ve got good news and bad news for everyone. The good news: this is a problem we can fix. And the bad news: it’s gonna take hard work that forces politicians in D.C. to have some important conversations with their constituents. But I’m ready to tackle this problem at its root and with immediate solutions designed to relieve middle-income taxpayers.
Answer 2: The climate crisis is the single most important problem our country faces. I earned an MBA from the University of Chicago and own a successful small technology business, so I understand the importance of maintaining a good credit rating. So, for the most part, I do not think politicians should leverage the debt ceiling to pass policies. However, I’ll make one possible exception: the climate crisis. Congress must do whatever it takes to pass meaningful, effective legislation right now. The legislation must build a green economy that relies entirely on renewable energy; that allows people to be people, not just workers; that is built on 21st-century infrastructure that’s not crumbling to the ground and that can keep churning during global crises – so we can take care of ourselves when supply chains stop.
Answer 3: My biggest issue is the inaction in D.C. I’m ashamed to say that only catastrophic events have inspired Democrats and Republicans to address big problems in recent years (9/11, the ‘08 market crashes, and pandemic relief). A system that only works during crises is no system at all. I'm running to fix it so politicians spend more time solving problems than running for reelection. We do that with campaign finance reform, term limits, and by engaging voters in the political system every day – not just when we need their votes or money.
What specific steps would you take to ensure your office is accessible and responsive to your constituents?
A few years back, the Washington Post reported on the schedule our leaders in D.C. recommend to freshman Congresspeople:
4 hours: Fundraising
1 - 2 hours: Constituent visits (prioritizing donors)
2 hours: Actual work (hearings and votes)
1 hour: Strategic outreach (for fundraising and PR)
1 hour: Recharge (and relax)
To ensure my office is accessible and responsive to my constituents, I’ll start by throwing that schedule out the window! No wonder so little gets done in D.C. Politicians spend more time raising money for reelection than trying to solve big problems!
In a previous answer, I already mentioned that I’ll fight for larger budgets for constituent services so congressional offices are accessible to all community members in need of help. But I also want to involve more voters in the legislative process. With new technology, my team can set up routine meetings with voters from all walks of life to discuss policies that are important to them. My office will borrow from a recommendation put forth by the American Academy for the Arts and Sciences. They’ve developed a system that allows Congresspeople to regularly engage with random samples of constituents in robust policy conversations. If elected, I will be excited to pioneer this new system so voters have more say in D.C.