About the Candidate

Name: Kirby Birgans
DOB: Sept. 30, 1983 
Occupation: Science teacher  
Political Experience: None.  
Website: kirby2022.org/
Twitter: @Kirby4congress
Facebook: KirbyBirgansforCongress

Candidate Statement

When you’re born, raised and educated in a district, you get to see the disparities. You get to see stores come and go. You see friends leave for better working opportunities. You get to see the very essence of what people love about Illinois being overshadowed by gun violence. 

You get to see the leaders that love money over justice. We have millionaire lawmakers in Washington, DC right now, denying workers a livable wage and denying our kids equal access to resources that they would need to succeed. 

And as a science teacher, I get to see the realities of our community. And although I believe that life isn’t fair, I do believe that our government should be. 

I am running because you deserve innovative policy changes, someone that will fight for housing as a human right; a national rent control; innovative paths to homeownership; green jobs and training.  I supported the green-new deal.  Universal Pre-K and all-day kindergarten; fully-funded public schools system, a Medicare-for-all option; ending qualified immunity; and,  decriminalizing mental health. I want to use the power of the federal government to work for us all and not just a selective few. 

And, so, on June 28th, I ask that you vote for Kirby Birgans for Congress because I’m Congress-ready!

Candidate Q&A

Why are you running?

I am a proud “Southsider” that was born, raised, and educated in the 1st Congressional District of Illinois. My family, students, and activism have motivated me to take further action to represent the people of the 1st Congressional District. My story begins with a childhood that was filled with trauma stemming from my parents’ substance abuse. After me and my brothers were removed from my parents’ home, we lived with my great grandmother, who the South Shore neighborhood affectionately called “Ms. Ludie.” It was my great-grandmother who instilled in me the importance of helping others. My great-grandmother owned and operated a laundromat that was a community hub--neighbors would visit for friendly talks, food drives organized by my great-grandmother, and free wash and dry days for community members.

In 2001, my brother and role model, Travis, died due to heart complications. Travis was a senior at Howard University, majoring in political science with aspirations to become an elected official. We planned that after Travis’ graduation that I would live with him and attend college. Instead, after graduating high school I worked in retail and in the hospitality industries and attended Malcolm X College. The spirits of my late brother and great-grandmother incited me to organize my co-workers and join the fight for $15 a hour movement. While attending Chicago State University (CSU), myself and fellow students were almost arrested for peacefully protesting the 2016 Illinois budget impasse during Governor Rauner’s administration that threatened to close CSU’s doors.

As a current middle school teacher, I am motivated by my scholars to make positive, progressive changes in education, criminal justice reform, housing, and LGBTQ+ rights. My scholars are from Chicago’s inner city. My scholars are experiencing daily challenges resulting from outdated “No Child Left Behind” policies that leave children behind on a daily basis. Many of my scholars have parents that have been jailed and they have even experienced traumatic encounters with police officers. I have packed snacks for my scholars to take home and have directed parents to housing and employment resources.

My scholars, my brother, and my great-grandmother have motivated me advocate for progressive changes to make life more equitable for working families. As a progressive candidate, I am running to fight for increased federal investment in our public schools, all-day kindergarten, and universal daycare, a Medicare for all option, environmental justice, criminal justice reform that ends qualified immunity, and improved rights for women and the LGBTQ+ community. Ultimately, my campaign is a human rights first campaign. I am running for U.S. Congress to improve human rights on all levels.

What does this office do well, and what needs fixing?

The U.S. Congress is where the people’s most direct representatives govern. Therefore, the office, in theory, has the privilege of representing constituents by enacting laws that protect the freedoms and liberties of our nation’s citizens. Today, the U.S. Congress does not stand truth to power.

As Congressman, I will support the For the People Act (HR1) and the John Lewis Voting Act (HR4) to expand voting rights and change campaign finance laws to reduce the influence of money in politics. I will also create a cross-movement unity coalition, to educate our communities, and focus on the needs of everyday Illinoisans.

Our campaign is a human rights first campaign. When Congressman, regardless of political affiliation, I will vote and support fully-funded public schools, Medicare for all, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, Green New Deal policies, student loan debt cancellation, and will continue to protect reproductive justice and LGBTQ+ rights.

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

As a middle school science teacher, I know firsthand the importance of students receiving equal access to resources they will need to succeed. Education reform is the most pressing issue facing the constituents of Illinois’ 1st Congressional district and the nation.

Education is the key component to ending socio-economic injustices caused by poverty. Today's students are tomorrow's citizens, leaders, workers and parents. A quality education is an investment with long- term benefits. When we have an education system that relies heavily on local property taxes, we shortchange students in low- income areas. When the federal government education budget is only 3%, we are not investing enough in our children.

Chicago has the third largest education system in the U.S. and we need a Congressman that will advocate and work diligently to improve our education system for our scholars and families. On day one, I will work diligently to join the House Education and Labor Committee.

When elected, I will fight for:

• Increasing the Federal budget for public schools;
• Increasing investments in trade schools;
• All day kindergarten;
• Affordable high quality daycare;
• High speed, free Internet for students grades K through college;
• Expanding Individual Disability Education Act to include children ages three through five for early intervention services;
• Redirecting public dollars to schools that need the funding the most;
• Investing in our afterschool programs and community programs that focus on violence prevention and extracurricular activities for children and teens; and
• Fully supporting Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s New Deal for education.

What specific steps would you take to ensure your office is accessible and responsive to your constituents?

When we put people above special interests, listen to constituents and work for them, we can and will see change. First, we recognize that representation matters! The 1st Congressional District is diverse and includes rural, urban, and suburban communities. Our campaign is a multi-racial, multi-generational, cross-movement that supports human rights for all regardless of gender expression, sexual identity, and race. Everyone deserves their voice to be heard and our campaign was designed to be inclusive of all. Therefore, when elected, we will work diligently to continue inclusivity.

Knowledge is power and information sharing is vital to maintaining informed, impowered constituents. In addition to my office hours, my campaign recognizes the importance of safe face-to-face engagement, and I will invite constituents to regularly scheduled virtual and in-person town halls and coffee chats throughout District 1. Clear communications will also be provided to constituents via multiple communication mediums (e.g., email, website, and social media).

Our office will invite constituents to participate in a cross-movement coalition designed to assist with developing progressive strategies to protect human rights, improve wellness, and foster upward mobility throughout the 1st Congressional District. As congressman, I will not only listen intently to constituents, but I will ensure that they are provided with accurate information, updates, and are involved in developing progressive policies.

Lastly, as Congressman, I will fully support term limits for members of the House and Senate. We believe that term limits will keep lawmakers accountable to their constituents to vote more often, will encourage innovative solutions, and boost devotion to and courage for constituents.