Over the past decade, the promise of Illinois - economic opportunity, social mobility, and education - has been broken. In Congress I will vote for my constituents and not the corporate campaign donors in finance, insurance, or military defense.
I will support legislation to get Medicare for All, defend the working and middle class by investing in our local businesses and teachers, create more affordable housing and build new pathways to home ownership, build a green economy with new good-paying jobs in the district, fight to end gun violence, and protect our children.
Covid-19 caused economic difficulties for millions of Americans and many in the Illinois 5th Congressional District. Businesses have shut down, evictions and foreclosures have run rampant, and essential workers are underpaid and exhausted.
Our economic system has never worked for everyone. The previous administration passed policy that widened the already massive socio-economic divide. It is time to build an economy that works and protects everyone, not just those with deep pockets.
In Congress I will fight for:
Benefits and legal protections for workers.
Reduced taxes on working and middle-class families.
Small businesses. We need to level the playing field for small businesses so they can grow and create jobs that will empower folks to save, afford to send their children to college, and retire. Small businesses are what built America and this district and they are under attack from a rapidly growing corporate presence in our country.
We need to do the following:
Reduce the tax burden on small businesses and simplify small business tax filing.
Repeal wasteful special interest subsidies that make it harder for entrepreneurs to raise capital, enter the market, and create jobs.
Ensure that folks who dream of owning a successful business have the opportunity to do so.
Guarantee that health insurance premiums do not force businesses to lay off employees.
Benefits and legal protections for workers. Working-class folks should be able to earn a living wage and be able to save for life’s unexpected emergencies. I will push to pass legislation for a national minimum wage of $15 an hour.
However, even $15 an hour is not a living wage and is not enough to secure housing. According to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, people need to earn $17.90 an hour to rent a one-bedroom apartment, and $22.10 an hour to cover a two-bedroom apartment. Affordable housing has become much harder to find in our district. We need to make sure that wages increase for families, and we need to ensure that there are enough affordable housing options in our district.
I will also fight for paid family and medical leave for all employees, because no one should be choosing between a job and supporting their family. I also recognize the need for fair and predictable scheduling to protect workers, which should be protected by legislation.
Reduce taxes on working and middle-class families. It is time that we value the hard earned dollars of everyday Americans over lining the pockets of the wealthy and corporations. We need to lower taxes for those who are already struggling to make ends meet, but more importantly we need to hold the ultra wealthy and corporations accountable for the taxes they owe. Better tax enforcement on the wealthy and oversight of corporate tax dodging would drastically reduce the deficit, allowing lower-income and middle-income Americans to pay less while still having the funds the government needs.
America has one of the widest income gaps in the world, and we can promote a closing of this gap through a corporate tax plan. Companies with a high annual revenue in the hundreds of millions and a large income gap between their CEOs and median workers should be taxed at a higher rate. This would raise millions in tax dollars and encourage these wealthy companies to increase worker wages to avoid a tax increase.
Healthcare is a human right. I have seen relatives struggle to afford healthcare and friends set up fundraising pages to cover medical expenses after a tragic accident to cover surgeries. No one should get sicker because they can’t afford to go to the doctor or go into debt to pay their hospital bills. No one should have to choose between paying for their prescription drugs or rent.
The United States has allowed healthcare and insurance companies to profit at the expense of American’s health for too long. Health insurance prices are too high and protections too low for women, children, and those with pre-existing conditions. Insurance is often tied to employment, but no one should lose access to health care because they lost their job.
Our current healthcare system does not work. That is why I support Medicare for All and switching to a single-payer system that has proven to be successful in countries around the world. Hospitalizations, ambulatory services, doctor’s visits, dental, vision, hearing, reproductive care, long-term care services, and prescription drug prices need to be covered for everyone at any provider of their choice. Streamlining the system will reduce national spending on health services and allow providers to focus on care instead of billing or administrative duties. I realize that many work in the private insurance industry and will ensure that workers get the help they need transitioning to new jobs.
Conservatives do not want Medicare for All and passing legislation for it will be difficult, so we need to take actionable steps now to provide healthcare for the more than 846,000 Illinois residents who lost their health insurance during the pandemic.
For now, we need to protect the Affordable Care Act by reducing premiums on the healthcare exchanges and increasing the tax credits that families can use to subsidize the cost of ACA plans. I will fight to expand Medicare for our older Americans by reducing the eligible age from 65 to 55 years old. We also need to expand Medicaid and CHIP to cover more Illinoisans as we recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
We have clear evidence that there is a climate crisis and experts have repeatedly told us that if we don’t reverse the effects of climate change in the next few years it may be too late. Just 100 companies are responsible for over 70% of global emissions. Yet, the burden of climate change is disproportionately concentrated in the most vulnerable communities. We need climate justice, not just climate action.
The youth climate movement has recognized that climate solutions need to focus on dismantling systemic racism and prioritizing capitalism over American lives. Yet members of Congress are still not addressing climate justice.
Rep. Mike Quigley prides himself on his environmental work in Congress, but he and so many other policy makers ignore the suffering of low-income neighborhoods and communities of color in their fight to save the planet. I will stand up against policies that continue systemic harm and endanger the health of individuals. I will work to increase air quality for Chicagoans, end toxic material and waste dumping in disinvested neighborhoods, and hold industries accountable for displacing and poisoning low-income, Black and Brown communities.
Ignoring the systemic consequences of climate change and telling individuals that they are responsible for climate change, not industries, ends here!
We need a long-term plan to invest, innovate, and get serious about solutions. I support a Green New Deal approach to solving the climate crisis, where the U.S. government takes a leadership role in transitioning us to a sustainable future.
We must invest in a transition from our fossil fuel and coal energy to green, renewable energy. I support innovative approaches of implementing solar power to low-income areas to reduce utility costs, so that Americans can have self-sustaining sources of power at little or no cost. Transitioning to self-sustaining clean energy in the United States would end our dependence on foreign fossil fuels and stabilize our energy costs. We need to commit the United States to clean energy, because this fight is for everyone and it will take every state participating in clean energy to make a difference.
Building a green economy would create jobs for hundreds of thousands of Americans and I am committed to giving opportunities to fossil fuel workers and other industries to transition to green jobs. I will work to bring new jobs and industries to the 5th district and create programs to provide job training for at-risk communities in green technology to create more employment opportunities.
The Earth is everyone’s home and it is time we include every American in our plan to make our planet and people healthier.
Criminal Justice Reform
I’m proud that earlier this year Illinois was one of the first states to eliminate Cash Bail to end the holding of nonviolent defendants before trial and reduce the number of people in custody. The state addressed police reform as well, which acknowledged the systemic issues in policing. However, there is still a lot of work to be done to address mass incarceration and criminal justice in Illinois and the United States.
We need reforms to:
Address the mental health crisis in our prisons.
Decriminalize our society.
Hold police officers accountable and require better training for police members.
Address the mental health crisis in our prisons. The Cook County Jail has housed more inmates suffering from mental illness than the population of any psychiatric hospital in the United States for years. Statistically speaking this makes it one of the largest mental health facilities in the nation, but it is not equipped for that and those suffering from severe mental illnesses deserve proper treatment.
I support innovative programs that focus on criminal diversion of those who have mental health issues. I will push for resources to be invested in a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT)--a voluntary division of the police patrol that trains officers on intervention tactics to help those suffering from mental illness. I will continue to ensure that we are adequately funding state programs to address mental illness and provide for mental health courts instead of regular criminal sentencing.
Decriminalize our society. Our criminal justice system’s outcomes are plagued by bias and the criminalization of poverty. We have to decriminalize our society--it is a moral imperative.
I will work with local leaders to provide economic opportunities, mental health and trauma-informed services, and culturally competent services in our communities of color. We need to be smart about sentencing in order to reduce the number of people incarcerated for petty crimes. Instead of spending on the criminal justice system, I am committed to my continued investment in communities and programs that are proven to increase opportunity and reduce the number of crimes committed.
Hold police officers accountable and require better training for police members. Our police system is broken and has been for generations, but our leaders who let this happen resist making real change. It is clear that we need to stop militarizing our police officers and ensure that they receive extensive training to reduce the number of unnecessary deaths at the hands of police.
I will defend and expand external measures that investigate police-civilian conflicts, including complaints against officers. There is no excuse for allowing officers like Derek Chauvin, with 18 complaints against him, to be able to serve and he is just one of many. It is time that the system stops protecting officers like this with qualified immunity by establishing a clear guide of what individual’s “clearly established statutory or constitutional rights” are when police are acting in their official capacity and when these rights are violated. Officers who act outside of their role and endanger the lives of civilians should have personal liability for their actions, and victims' families should be able to receive civil remedies for the loss of their loved ones.
While the police system is broken in our country, I know that there are great officers who show up to protect people every day, just like my dad. Creating better oversight and accountability for every officer will allow the great officers to rise to the top and create a safer environment, instead of having them beholden to the unacceptable actions of other officers. Protecting civilians from aggressive and unjust policing will also reduce the animosity between communities and in turn reduce the violence against officers that has continued to grow in Chicago.
My K-12 public education gave me the foundation and tools I needed to excel in life. I understand how important education is for success later in life, however, public schools suffer from chronic disinvestment and inequitable funding. Too often, our children are being left behind and our teachers are not getting the resources that they need.
Teachers are paying out of pocket for costs for essentials like pencils, paper, and reading materials. I will ensure that we are compensating teachers and setting them up for success. I support giving a federal tax credit to teachers in high-poverty schools so that we can retain quality educators and give all students access to a great education.
I helped support work with Chicago Public Schools to invest $24 million in a 3-year long initiative to create a trauma-informed approach to helping students excel. Students face poverty, violence, homelessness, and mental health issues outside of school that take priority over their education, so it is up to us to provide children the support they need to feel safe and heard. I will push for more comprehensive legislation that makes our public schools not only better funded but ensures that funding is used to benefit all aspects of student’s lives.
Affordable and accessible education needs to expand to the college level as well. My generation has more debt than any generation before and most of it comes from the inflated price of higher education and student loans. A college degree has become necessary for a majority of jobs, but at the expense of individuals. Meanwhile, the high cost excludes lower-income individuals from being able to get higher-paying jobs without going into debt first.
I believe that public higher education should be affordable to students and families in our district. I will fight to reduce the loan rates for student loans and cancel student loan debt for those already graduated, up to the first $50,000. The student loan debt crisis disproportionately affects Americans from low-income backgrounds, particularly those from minority communities. We must address the racial wealth gap by addressing the student loan debt crisis. Then, more Americans would have access to greater buying power and would be able to move towards homeownership, starting a small business, building generational wealth for their family, or creating new jobs.
Additionally, community colleges and public universities should be free for all Americans.
(Hoan and his 1st grade teacher, Carrie Boyle)
Gun Violence Prevention
A new mass shooting on the news almost every day has become the “norm” in this country, yet so many elected officials only give their condolences or a moment of silence as a response. It is time that we treat gun violence as the humanitarian issue that it is, not a partisan issue. We need to pass comprehensive gun violence prevention legislation and end our national epidemic of gun deaths. We need action now!
Chicago has one of the highest annual numbers of gun violence victims, which continues to grow in 2021 from last year's record high of over 4,000* victims. City and state action has not been enough to stop this rise in violence, which is why I will fight for federal action to:
Require universal background checks to end the private sales and gun show loopholes.
Close the Charleston loophole where if the FBI cannot complete a background check in three business days, gun dealers can sell without affirmative confirmation of passing the background check. This loophole led to the 2015 massacre at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and needs to be closed before more innocent lives are lost.
A federally mandated waiting period between when a gun is purchased and when the buyer takes possession of it, to preempt impulsive acts of violence and suicide.
Further mental health screening and aid for those looking to purchase a gun.
A ban on all assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines that are designed for war to kill and inflict as much damage as possible.
Disarm domestic abusers.
Enact laws for extreme risk protection orders (ERPO) which is a civil legal solution that allows either family members of law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from a person that may pose an imminent risk of harm to others or self.
Increase funding for community-based violence intervention and address underlying issues that are contributing to gun violence such as lack of opportunity, hate crimes, and mental health.
*The Associated Press.
Transportation & Infrastructure
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gives the United States an overall infrastructure grade of D+. As we face worsening natural disasters due to climate change, it is clear that we need to rethink our infrastructure system.
We must invest in our roads, railways, and bridges; seawalls and levees; technology systems; and the electric grid. However, infrastructure inevitably increases green-house emissions and other harmful pollutants. We need to rebuild our infrastructure and transportation systems with clean energy and away from fossil fuels.
We must also expand our definition of infrastructure to include “human and social infrastructure” and invest in our caregiver workforce, a workforce that is 87% women, and 61% women of color, and who are often underpaid and undervalued. Studies show that more than 1.4 million fewer mothers are working today than at the beginning of the pandemic because they need to take on caregiving responsibilities for their children, older relatives, and loved ones. The U.S. economy cannot thrive when women are forced to leave the workforce because they can’t find caregivers for their loved ones.
I will push for bold investments to ensure equitable transportation and transit in our communities, clean and efficient energy sources, adequate emergency responses and innovation, and human infrastructure by:
Expanding Chicago’s public transportation options in suburban and lower-income areas.
Continuing to push for the existing trains and buses to run on clean energy and reduce gas emissions.
Closing the digital divide and bringing broadband access to all households in the 5th District.
Building out our technology infrastructure to transform Chicago to be the most innovative technology ecosystem in America by 2033 and attract more businesses.
Unlock the talents of our young people and build a more inclusive future in technology for all Chicagoans.
Enhancing our roads and supporting innovative ideas such as painting streets white to reduce surface level heat in our district. This approach has proven successful in California--reducing heat has far reaching benefits including reducing violence that spikes on hot summer days.
Creating incentives for electric cars to end Americans dependence on foreign fossil fuels.
Updating our senior care facilities like nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and age-restricted housing centers to meet the needs of our growing senior population.
Reduce a backlog of 1 million low-income elderly and Americans with disabilities who are unable to receive in-home services that they need by investing in our caregivers workforce with increased pay and benefits.
Supporting our veterans is a moral imperative. We must make sure that our veterans and their families receive necessary resources.
According to Veterans Affairs (VA) internal data from October 2019 to June 2020, Veterans waited an average of 42 days for an appointment in the community, starting from the time they requested the appointment to the time of meeting. This is unacceptable.
As the son of a Vietnam War Veteran, I will always be a champion for Veterans and military families, by fighting to:
Expand access to mental health and addiction care.
Ensure that all returning Veterans and active-duty military are screened for post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health and/or addiction challenges.
Increase outreach to Veterans to connect them with services.
Hire more mental health professionals within the VA and reduce the wait times for Veterans to get adequate mental health care.
End Veterans’ homelessness by making sure that every Veteran has access to safe, supportive housing.
I am a refugee. I was lucky that my family received asylum in the United States because my father worked alongside U.S. forces in Vietnam. I see the immigrants at our borders and know all they want is the same safety my family found in America--the safety that so many of our ancestors sought here. We cannot forget that we are an immigrant nation and we need to respect the humanity of those desperately trying to enter our country.
We need comprehensive immigration reform efforts, including:
A plan to solve the humanitarian border crisis. We need to accept refugees who are seeking asylum in our country--fleeing from violence or famine and towards the promise of a better life in America.
Expanding DACA and DAPA for young people and families who have built their lives in America.
Abolishing ICE and replacing it with a humane system for immigration to our country. We also need to increase H1-B visas for immigrant workers. Expanding and simplifying the work visa process will decrease the number of undocumented immigrants and ensure that all U.S. workers are contributing to America through taxes.
Ending family separation and detention of children in cages.
Providing skilled job training and resources for people who want to contribute to the American workforce.
Housing & Homelessness
Homelessness is the symptom of systemic injustices and inequalities in our district and country: lack of affordable housing, a failed healthcare system, domestic violence, untreated mental illness, addiction disorders, and many other sudden or unforeseen circumstances.
Central to combating the rise in homelessness is advocating for a livable wage and adequate healthcare for all Americans. Too many people living paycheck to paycheck can’t save emergency funds and experience homelessness after an unexpected life event drains their cash on hand.
I will fight for those experiencing homelessness by demanding healthcare reform that targets medical debt and serious mental illnesses so that individuals will not have to decide between paying medical bills or keeping their homes.
We must uphold a Housing-First approach. This involves moving long-term street individuals, the majority of whom are living with chronic health conditions, directly into subsidized housing and linking them to social services. A Housing-First approach is far less costly than emergency and institutional care such as shelters, hospitals, and correctional facilities.
To remedy the current homelessness crisis, we must:
Affirm that housing is a human right and it is unacceptable for our neighbors to go without a home because of institutional failures.
Advocate for the United States to ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, affirming housing as a human right. Currently, the United States is the only developed nation out of 171 countries that signed the treaty without ratifying.
Increase federal funds for affordable housing and Permanent Supportive Housing, including funding for housing vouchers that have been stagnant for over two decades.
Widen our range of housing options, including mixed-income housing and tiny homes, by investing in alternative housing projects and loosening restrictions on the kinds of housing that banks will back mortgages for.
Invest in innovative housing models, allowing Americans to earn homeownership by converting their monthly rent payments into real equity for homes valued under $100,000, through government-backed mortgage financing for small-dollar properties.
The 5th Congressional District is home to the largest concentration of LGBTQ+ people in the state and I will continue to fight for equality by working to pass legislation that ensures LGBTQ+ persons legal protection from discrimination.
While the U.S. has made strides towards a more accepting and inclusive society there is still so much work to be done to protect LGBTQ+ Americans. More than 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ Americans still face discrimination in their everyday lives and the number rises to more than 3 in 5 for transgender Americans.
We need to protect LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination in employment, credit, education, and housing. Federal legislation that prohibits the discrimination of LGBTQ+ persons needs to pass, like the Equality Act that amends Title IX to prohibit discimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.
In Congress I will:
Ensure that all LGBTQ+ Americans have access to quality health care and prohibit discriminatory practices from insurance and health care providers. I will also work to get better access to mental health support, because the LGBTQ+ community has endured so much trauma at the hands of the discriminatory practices and rhetoric that has been allowed in the U.S.
Work to get non-binary people federal identity recognition by providing a third-gender option on federal documents.
Work to create further protections for transgender Americans and investigate any murders of trans people as hate crimes.
Ensure that students can go to schools without facing vicious bullying and discrimination by strengthening Title IX and prohibiting individual states from upholding and passing discriminatory laws.
Mental Health & Addiction
The United States is in the middle of a mental health and addiction crisis. On top of this, COVID-19 caused stress, worry, and trauma to nearly every individual in our district and the United States.
Drug-related deaths and those battling substance use disorders in Illinois has increased. Suicide rates have risen among our young people and returning Veterans. So many Americans are in need of mental health services and treatment, but do not have access or cannot afford care. We need to protect our loved ones, neighbors, and communities by ensuring everyone can get the treatment they need.
I will push for a comprehensive plan that will revolutionize mental health and substance use treatment in our district, and the United States by:
Defending and expanding our current mental health and addiction treatment centers. Funding for these centers continues to be cut, while the number of people in need rises. We will never end the national mental health crisis unless everyone can access resources and treatment.
Increasing the number of public psychiatric beds. Illinois falls short of the recommended minimum of 50 beds per 100,000 individuals--we need to at least meet this number.
Passing a National Mental Health Plan to provide emergency funding for mental health providers to deal with the mental health fall out from COVID-19.
Expanding telemedicine and suicide prevention services. Telemedicine has been integral to mental health medicine during the pandemic and is a great option to allow people a convenient option for care, however, there are waiting lists, and not all telemedicine providers/treatments are covered by insurance. Health insurances must cover this telemedicine option even as in-person appointments open back up.
Making mental health clinics available for our most vulnerable. We need to ensure that our most vulnerable population gets the help that they need instead of landing in jail, turning to substance use, suicide, etc.
Full equality for women is long overdue and I am committed to passing legislation that eliminates the systematic barriers that reinforce inequality.
We need to make equal pay for equal work a reality. Today, for every dollar that a man makes, a woman earns just 79 cents and the gap is far higher for women of color--Black women only earn 62 cents and Latino women earn 54 cents. I will push for policy that holds employers accountable for pay discrimination between men and women.
I support increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, to ensure that all women are being paid a decent wage. Additionally, we need to invest in women owned businesses and make it easier for women to become entrepreneurs.
During the pandemic the disparity between men and women in the workforce grew, highlighting the hardships that female employees face. Women often take on care-takers roles, so paid family/medical leave and a public option for childcare need to be offered to allow women the ability to work and provide for their families.
Women’s healthcare has been constantly under attack. I will fight to strike down any legislation that would allow insurance companies to discriminate against women and work towards getting women better access to health care. We need to find ways to eliminate the racial disparities that persist in maternal mortality and infant health.
Every woman has a right to choose and should have complete bodily autonomy in the U.S., in addition to access to contraceptives of their choosing.
I will defend Planned Parenthood funding in Congress. Planned Parenthood is under attack from the right who ignores the fact that they provide essential preventative and reproductive health care services like cancer screenings, STD testing, and low-cost birth control to millions of American women.
The notion that Social Security is too costly to continue is a myth. We need to uphold our promise to Americans that they will be provided for after retirement and continuing to pay out Social Security benefits is a question of values, not money. The amount Americans receive from Social Security is modest and sustainable.
Women, minorities, and people who are disabled would suffer the most if Social Security benefits are cut. These people are more likely to have gaps in their employment and lower wages, which penalizes the amount of benefits they are eligible for.
All Americans deserve to live in dignity after retirement and everyone with a disability needs security. Defending the current Social Security program is not enough to ensure the future financial stability of later generations and that is why I support expanding Social Security in a number of ways:
Increase the cost-of-living adjustments to account for rising costs of housing, healthcare, and prescription drugs for elderly Americans.
Increase the contributions by employers and large corporations that have enjoyed tax benefits at the expense of their low-wage employees.
Ensure that all eligible recipients will get the Social Security benefits they were promised.
Protect women who have employment gaps--because they left the workforce to raise families or take care of loved ones--from lower benefits.
Lift seniors with low incomes out of poverty by increasing their benefits to a livable amount.
Campaign Finance Reform
The 2020 election was the most expensive election cycle to date, totaling nearly $14 BILLION, which was nearly double the spending in 2016. That money could go towards paying off our national debt, providing health care, ending childrens’ hunger, and so much more.
It is clear that American elections have become a competition of spending instead of a policy driven competition, where the best candidate for the people always wins. Those with unlimited resources and incumbents with guaranteed donation channels are extremely hard to beat in races, which keeps those with power in power. The election system is no longer representative of the people.
I support spending caps for elections and overturning Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission to get corporate money out of our politics. Our government was built on the premise--for the people, by the people--and a government held captive by corporate money cannot fulfill that promise.
For example, since his election to Congress in 2009 Mike Quigley has taken over $3 million from Corporate PACs. $729,000 of that is from Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate companies and $126,000 from Defense PACs. It is clear looking at his voting record that these sectors influence his vote--not his constituents’ needs.
I will never accept Corporate PAC money because when I am in Congress I want my constituents to know that their voices are louder than any money could ever be.