Candidate Full Name:
5th Congressional District
Friends of Sara
Campaign Office Mailing Address:
3023 N. Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60657
Please tell us about yourself, your background and why you believe you are qualified to hold this office.
Raised in Hollywood Park on the Northwest Side, I am a lifelong resident of this congressional district. My worldview has been shaped my experiences growing up here, and my legislative and budget experience in the Illinois House has provided me with a unique set of skills to partner with President Obama and members of Congress to get our economy back on track and make comprehensive, affordable health care available to all Americans.
I am the adopted daughter of Florence Buky, an immigrant from Eastern Europe who came to this country during the Great Depression. One of only two women in her class to graduate from medical school, my mother worked as a doctor in our community. She often treated patients, many of whom were children whose parents were unable to pay for basic health care, right on our kitchen table. She never turned anyone away.
My mother taught me the true meaning of public service, which has inspired everything I've done in public life.
Having served 14 years in the Illinois House, and six years as chair of the House Human Services Appropriations committee, I have a record of fighting to expand access to health care for women, families and the uninsured. I sponsored the FamilyCare program along with then-State Senator Barack Obama to provide health care for working families. I fought to require insurance companies to cover mammograms and contraceptive services. I championed the All Kids law to expand comprehensive, affordable health care coverage to all children in Illinois who need it.
I was able to get these things done by avoiding the finger pointing and political gamesmanship that often dominates Springfield. That's allowed me to work with both Republicans and Democrats to get real results for those most in need. At this very difficult time in our history we need to rise above partisanship and deliver for people. That's how I've worked in Springfield and it's the type of leadership I'll bring to Washington.
Please tell us your general views about the role of government and some of the most important things you would like to accomplish in office?
I believe that government should be a tool for doing good and helping the underrepresented and underserved. This philosophy has always guided my conduct in public life and I am proud to have made an impact in the lives of millions of Illinois residents.
I want to go to Washington to help fix our nation's economic crisis, create jobs and work to get all Americans access to the health care they need. Amid the toughest financial crisis in our lifetime, I will work to ensure that any proposal to stimulate our economy or provide relief for taxpayers helps middle class families who need it most.
The current economic crisis is squeezing the middle class. What should Congress do about it? What specifically would you do if elected to Congress?
When the Troubled Assets Relief Program was approved in the fall, there was one priority on the minds of Congress and the Bush Administration ? act swiftly to prevent our financial system from total collapse. Further compounding an already bad situation was the absence of a handbook from which our leaders could seek guidance. The only thing they knew was that inaction would be disastrous.
There were, however, serious flaws with the version that eventually passed. As the former Treasury Secretary began doling out billions in tax dollars, it became clear that little had been done to ensure that these billions would be well-spent. TARP's lack of transparency and failure to mitigate foreclosures was a serious breach of the public trust and confidence. The American people ? and the residents of Illinois' 5th Congressional District ? simply cannot afford such miscalculations in the future.
Any proposal to stabilize our banking system must set restrictions on bonuses for the executives of participating firms, make foreclosure mitigation mandatory, demand greater transparency by forcing banks to report how government funds are being used and close other existing loopholes. If elected, I will work to ensure that any future federal assistance to any sector of our economy comes with full transparency, accountability and the expectation that it will be repaid.
We clearly need fast and effective federal action to boost our economy, restore confidence in our future and put millions of Americans back to work, which is why I support the efforts to invest in our infrastructure.
As we move to protect and create millions of new jobs, I want to ensure that we invest in our human as well. As chair of the House Human Services Appropriations committee, I have seen the effect of the national economic downturn on our service providers ? both public and private. A majority of these service jobs are performed by women, many of them single parents. Any plan to stimulate the economy and keep people at work must include the millions of workers who provide the services on which our children, seniors and disabled citizens rely. An infusion of dollars to bolster Medicaid funding and other worthy programs will help Illinois providers and those they serve to withstand this economic storm.
What are some of the main things you would do to help create jobs in Illinois?
I support President Obama's focus on rebuilding our nation's infrastructure, which is the cornerstone of the economic recovery act currently being considered by Congress.
The investment in roads, bridges, mass transit and high-speed Internet lines will create jobs immediately and build the foundation for a competitive economy in the future. We must ensure, however, that such projects are both timely and strategic.
I am encouraged that President Obama and Congress have made energy and environmental issues a priority in this stimulus package. This will foster the development of a domestic green economy and could create between 3 and 4 million jobs over the coming years in new technology and renewable energy industries.
What do you think can be done to bring short-term stability to gas and energy prices? Also, what do you think is the best strategy - to both affordably and responsibly - provide for the nation's future energy needs?
Curbing excessive energy speculation is one step to preventing the type of price hikes motorists encountered last summer. Despite the decrease in gas prices these past few months, our ultimate goal should be to wean ourselves from our addiction to oil and move America's energy policy in a new direction. I support a strong investment in renewable energies like solar and wind power to secure our energy future.
Is there anything that can be done to make health care more accessible and affordable in Illinois? If so, what would you do?
As chair of the House Human Services Appropriations Committee in the Illinois legislature, I have always supported the goal of providing health care coverage to all Americans. Here in Illinois, I led the fight to expand health care to women, children and families. This is important to millions of Americans, many of them working or recently unemployed, who currently lack coverage. It is also important to the future competitiveness of our nation, since health care costs are burdening many of our domestic industries while businesses in other countries don't bear those costs.
The question is how best to achieve the goal of health coverage for all. I believe the most practical approach is to build on the framework already in place. This means allowing workers and families to stay with their employer-based provider if they prefer, or to enter into a national health insurance exchange along with those who don't have employer-based care. It means allowing seniors the choice between nursing homes and assisted living centers or the much less expensive option of in-home care. It means providing Medicare patients the choice to buy generic prescription drugs at a lower cost. Ultimately, we can help pay for a system that covers all Americans by taking steps like these to bring more efficiencies and reduce the skyrocketing cost of health care.
As the daughter of a doctor, I believe that the needs of doctors and patients should drive the health care debate. Most doctors I talk to today share the belief that all Americans should have access to quality health care, regardless of their ability to pay. But they are bogged down by policies from insurance companies and HMOs that encumber their ability to practice medicine as they see fit. The goal of this Congress must be to make health care accessible and affordable to every American by bringing all the stakeholders to the table and building on the system already in place. I am eager to be a constructive part of that debate.
Please state your general views about the war in Iraq.
As someone who actively opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, I would like to see a responsible end to the war that protects American lives and provides stability for the Iraqi people. I support a phased withdrawal to begin in the next few months, with the goal of removing all combat troops by Spring, 2010. I trust President Obama to closely monitor the withdrawal of U.S. troops, and agree with his willingness to adjust the timetable based on developments on the ground.
What are your thoughts on how to deal with illegal immigration? Also, what do you think should be done about illegal immigrants who are already here in the U.S.?
Securing our borders and addressing the issue of nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants are priorities that cannot exist in a vacuum ? they are too closely linked. We need to adopt a comprehensive solution to immigration reform, one that makes our borders more secure while striving to unify families.
As the daughter of an immigrant, I know that most immigrants come to America in search of a better life. The parts of Chicago that make up the 5th district have been home to generations of immigrants who have built this country, fought its wars and raised their children and grandchildren. Our country should continue this tradition by providing immigrants with a path to earn the privilege of citizenship. We also need to establish a new worker visa program that ensures due process and prevents abusive employer practices.
We need comprehensive immigration reform built on both compassion and strength ? one that balances the desire of many immigrants to become citizens with the need to secure our borders and prevent further instances of illegal border crossings.
What ideas do you have for improving our education system and for making our colleges and universities more affordable?
The single biggest barrier to college and career success is the lack of academic preparation, particularly for low-income students.
As someone who has consistently voted to increase funding for the Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP) to help young people pursue their dreams of higher education, I will continue to vigorously support increased Pell grants and provisions of the federal economic stimulus bill to increase capital and operational support for higher education.
Other states, including Missouri and Minnesota, have entered into agreements with public colleges to "buy down" tuition in return for state financial support. I will pursue incentives for public colleges and universities in Illinois to reduce tuition costs in exchange for increased state or federal funding.
I also support President Obama's opportunity tax credit for community service initiative, which would lower college tuition costs and make community college free for those who participate in community service projects.
What are your highest priorities for protecting the environment in Illinois?
As a lifelong resident of the 5th congressional district and as someone who currently represents a district that borders Lake Michigan, our region's most treasured natural resource, I will fight to promote water conservation, oppose any effort to divert water from the Great Lakes Basin and champion tighter water quality standards to reduce contamination and protect humans as well as native aquatic species.
As a member of Congress, I would immediately focus on the crisis of global climate change by publicly urging ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. I would also work with President Barack Obama to create incentives for businesses to reduce their carbon emissions.
During the 2008 presidential election, the misleading message that offshore drilling is a tenable energy policy garnered considerable support among many voters. As a member of Congress I will oppose any effort by oil companies to drill in the Gulf Coast or the outer continental shelf, not only to protect our natural environment, but also to encourage smarter policies that focus on innovative, alternative fuel sources so we can foster the development of a green collar workforce to harness the power of alternative energy sources like wind, solar, biomass and geothermal.
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
National Organization for Women (NOW)
Women's Action for New Directions (WAND)
Americans for Democratic Action
Asian American Action Fund of Greater Chicago (AAAFGC)